Why I Walk

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Home Forums Campfire Editor’s Roundtable Why I Walk

Viewing 18 posts - 1 through 18 (of 18 total)
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    Backpacking Light


    Locale: Rocky Mountains

    It’s four-thirty in the afternoon and I’m feeling a sleepiness only caffeine, napping, or walking can fix. English tea time. Utah amble.

    Rex Sanders
    BPL Member



    Just today, I (finally) took a break from the screens that dominate so much of my life and went for a walk. Ideas started pouring out, as they often do, and I’m glad I brought my pocket recorder this time. Plus I think I solved a problem that’s stumped me for days.

    These mental breaks are essential and soul-filling. Unfortunately, backpacking anywhere in or near California will be nearly impossible for quite some time. So shorter walks must do.

    Thank you for reminding us.

    — Rex

    Paul Wagner
    BPL Member


    Locale: Wine Country

    As a friend of mine says (he’s a cyclist, not a hiker): when you get back from your ride you never remember why it was hard to get up off the sofa…

    Doug Coe
    BPL Member


    Locale: Bay Area, CA, USA

    you never remember why it was hard to get up off the sofa

    Man, so true. I need to just kick myself out the door sometimes. I mean, now that the air around here is breathable again (East Bay, CA).

    Alex H
    BPL Member


    Locale: southern appalachians or desert SW

    Nice piece Ben.  Of course many of know that in The Complete Walker, Colin Fletcher has many quotes about walking in the back of the book but one of my favorites is one of his

    “I find that the three truly great times for thinking thoughts are when I am standing in the shower, sitting on the john, or walking.  And the greatest, by far, is walking”

    BPL Member


    Locale: The West is (still) the Best

    Nice reminder to get off the couch.  Living in a walkable neighborhood or safe bike trails helps in this regard especially as age conspires to slow down our metabolism.

    Jon Solomon
    BPL Member


    Locale: Lyon/Taipei

    Great article.
    Walking is definitely therapeutic.
    I combine walking with mantra practice.
    When the skies are clear it is also helpful to direct the gaze to the empty sky.

    obx hiker
    BPL Member


    Really nice piece, almost lyrical. You mentioned several great reads for walkers and centered the article to a degree around “Wanderlust”. It’s a really interesting book and highly recommend. The origin of the term or verb saunter as described in “Wanderlust” is one of those little gems or flickers of light that bubbles up into consciousness with some regularity; sort of filling out or adding some history to the often spiritual nature of walking. You also mentioned McFarlane and his body of work might also tie in or help folks with becoming better observers while walking and thus better ‘amateur naturalists’

    One you didn’t mention that certainly applies to all of us that follow trails or even make our own is “On Trails”.

    It’s a great big wonderful world out there even if it’s confined to a small familiar space. I walk therefore I am. To walk is human to forgive divine. Think I’ll take a walk!

    BTW Solnit is generally credited with coming up with the phrase ‘mansplaining’ (and there I did it didn’t I?)

    BPL Member


    Locale: Northern California

    Yes, Wanderlust is a great read; Solnit is a really fine stylist. I find it interesting that she didn’t mention Rimbaud in this book. Rimbaud was one of the great walkers of literature and ended wandering through Africa and writing reports for the Geographic Society.

    Dave Heiss
    BPL Member


    Locale: Pacific Northwest

    We are made to move, which I think is why it feels so good to get up and take a walk.



    Locale: The Cascades

    “We are made to move, which I think is why it feels so good to get up and take a walk.”

    I agree, even when we can’t walk.

    d k
    BPL Member


    OMG, Doug, that article, and especially the video.  Thanks a lot for making me cry ;-)

    Tom K
    BPL Member


    It is what we were designed to do, and we forsake it at our peril.

    BPL Member


    Locale: Colorado

    Tom K, a great read, many thanks for that!

    Tipi Walter
    BPL Member


    To me, it’s not walking that is important as nearly everyone walks—in towns, thru Malls, in Walmarts ETC ETC.  What’s important is doing my walking in the great outdoors or what’s left of it—in wilderness for example.  I better hike in it now before it’s all gone due to sprawl and human development—the Vanishing American Landscape.

    And to me there’s a vast difference between “mere” Dayhiking and multi-day Backpacking.  I see the first as torture and the second as fulfilling; torturous because dayhikers don’t spend the night—and what’s the point of reaching a pristine area if you can’t sleep with Miss Nature???  But that’s just me.


    AK Granola
    BPL Member


    These writings are all great, thank you for sharing. I try to walk to work many days, or walk home if I can get a ride in. Sometimes I walk both ways, but that’s a lot of time. I’m 5.5 miles from work. I love walking home, the first 1/2 mile I’m still “working,” brain won’t stop. Then suddenly I notice I’m not thinking any more. I’m just walking. I’m aware of everything, smell, sights, small critters, reflection of light on water, I can sense when someone is behind me, even quite a ways behind me. I walk the next 4.5 miles without thinking, just being, on paths in the woods. The last half mile I come to the busy highway and have to cross, so I’m back to thinking again. Sometimes the drivers honk at me, or throw something out the window (not often, fortunately but it has happened more than once). Sometimes it’s catcalls or the creepy psychopath who lives in my neighborhood is on the road and I have to watch my back. I have to watch for moose too, because I go through a tunnel of brush. When I arrive home, work is far away, and worries are nonexistent. I love walking. I wish I had more time for it. And I wish it didn’t hurt. But everything hurts these days, c’est la vie.

    David Gardner
    BPL Member


    Locale: Northern California

    Walking. If you had to choose only one, the single best exercise for longevity. And forest bathing makes it even better.

    Ben Kilbourne
    BPL Member


    Locale: Utah

    @rex I love the idea of taking a pocket recorder. Better than taking a phone and the temptations inherent therein.

    Thanks for the Fletcher recommendation. I’ll check it out.

    I’d like to hear more about the combination of walking with mantra practice. I’m curious also about vipassana meditation retreats, how even walking to and from the bathroom is supposed to be a continuation of practice. I’ve only read about this, I have no personal experience.

    @obxcola Thanks for the “On Trails” recommendation. From Wikipedia: “In 2018, during a lecture at Moe’s Books in Berkeley, California, Solnit said, “I’m falsely credited with coining the term ‘mansplaining’. It was a 2010 New York Times word of the year. I did not actually coin it. I was a bit ambivalent about the word because it seems a little bit more condemnatory of the male of the species than I ever wanted it to be.””

    Good call on Rimbaud. One of Patti Smith’s heroes.

    @doug-i Thanks for sharing this. A good reminder that everyone needs to get out, including people who don’t walk.


    Certainly my preference too. Unfortunately, it’s not realistic for a lot of people to make it into the backcountry. For many, especially lower-income folks, neighborhoods and local parks will have to suffice.

    Thanks for pointing us towards forest bathing, I love the idea.

    Thanks for sharing. I love hearing others’ experiences with walking and the transformation that takes place. And with regards to “everything hurts these days,” I hear you. Personal physical pain, yes, but when I read those words I thought immediately of the state of the world today, where uncertainty is pain. It’s been interesting to see how walking during this troubling time has become such a life-giving ceremony for so many people.

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