THE THOUSAND MILES JOURNEY
“A walk in Nature walks the soul back home.”
The Nature heals all wounds and empowers our souls. It is a fact that is proven so many times by scientists. What is so majestic about nature? The tranquility that we have lost somewhere on the road of transition from wild homo sapiens to the urban people with no senses. The bond is broken but the desires for reconnection with Mother Nature are still deep within us, like the invisible tattoos.
When I lost myself in civilization, I have a luck to find myself in nature, all over again. It is like coming come after studies abroad and being happy about granny´s apple cookies. You are there where you belong to and the modern, empty cities will never replace the alluring beauty of forests, lakes, mountains or oceans.
I am definitely the person who is oriented towards sport and good nutrition. The fitness is the important part of my daily schedule but I try to combine it with outdoor activities, when the weather is optimal. Somehow, I believe that sport outside is the best solution for body and for mind. It neutralizes the stress and increase the feeling of happiness and soul peace. In other words, the nature addresses all our problems and help us to solve them.
There are people who are not sure how to rebuild their relations with the nature and Earth. The great journey of discovery starts with the first step, the decision we do not need a comfort zone to be happy, and the passion to embrace all the miracles we can see on the road.
What could be your first step into the wonderland? There are many amazing opportunities to enjoy the wildness and you should pick up the one that will be in harmony with your own personality. The goal is to challenge your own limits and not to create the insecurity, fear or boredom. That is why I decided to write about three great sport activities that could be realized in nature, depending on your interest, mental strength or adrenaline drivers. The hiking, trekking and mountaineering sound similar but they are very different because each of those outdoor activities requires the different level of physical capacity, equipment and mindset.
The hiking is usually a warm-up for trekking and mountaineering later. It is the simplest from all of three but not less demand. There are marked trails and you can choose how fast or how slow you will do your hike. It is a half- day or all-day hike but sometimes could last for few days, especially if the route is longer (The Camino de Santiago in Spain or Inca Trail in Peru). The hiking field could be some mountain, flat region or coastline. Everything is allowed but the route should be adjusted to the level of fitness of the participator. It is very important to have right equipment so the hike could be comfortable and without stressful moments. The pair of right hiking boots will make your feet happy and try to get the better quality to escape the swelling and pain during long walking session. I am fan of Mammut but La Sportiva has also very nice hiking shoes. You will need leggings or convertible hiking pants, waterproof shell with hood and thermal T-shirt. Don’t forget appropriate 30 L Backpack, hiking poles, lots of water and first aid little package. The nutrition is also crucial so do not save on food. The body could be very fast exhausted and empty and you will need fuel.
There are hiking trails all over the world and some of them are unforgettable. Start the basic training in your area, then move to global known hiking routes, put your flags there, and make memories.
The most beautiful hiking tour that I have experienced until now is definitely Cinque Terre – Italian Riviera. The sleepy fishing villages and Italian charismatic nature let you be born again and living your own dream of freedom.
What we know about trekking? Trekking is between hiking and mountaineering, combining the easy trails of hiking with big challenges of mountaineering goals. The experts always say that trekking has more similarities with hiking than with mountaineering but treks are longer and include sleeping in the nature or accommodation in mountain cottages, lodges or bed and breakfast apartments. Trekking itself requires the higher level of fitness and condition; it is a kind of advanced hiking with full enjoyment of the exploration.
The mountaineering is the last one, the most demanding and the queen of all activities in the nature. This is a kind of trekking with special equipment and techniques. It is a gradation of your physical and mental strength and the final exam of your trainings. It is not only about conquering the highest peak but also about to learn to respect your own limits and the limits of wild nature. If you are one of people who accept the mountaineering as your own sport, you have to be ready to work a lot on your own physical condition and to study the moods of unpredictable mountains. The trekking into the sky is related to the balance of fear and adrenaline. You need fear as a friend and not as an enemy. With the fear, you can see the borders; you will know which are opened for you, and which of them are better to be closed for you. The constant weather changes, potential snowstorms and the lack of oxygen will make you sometimes loose the appetite for life or fighting to survive. That is a flame of passion for discovering the undiscovered and embarking the unknown as the road to walk on.
Each of these actions could be the right for you but you need to know what do you want in life, how much you are ready to invest in your hobby and if you are willing to overcome the risks and challenges to be the best version of yourself.
The outdoor recreation is the prayer for our bodies and souls. We all need the sanctuary. Dare to find your own and dare to keep it.
2 thoughts on “NOT ALL WHO WANDER ARE LOST: AMONG HIKING, TREKKING AND MOUNTAINEERING”
Sarah’s excellent and inspirational article reminded me of the immemorial expression of John Muir (1838-1914), naturalist and environmental philosopher: ‘the way to comprehending The Universe is through a forest…’
During prehistoric times, Homo sapiens were obliged to traverse vast distances across the surface of the Earth, in a search for resources. Thus, Hominids are natural walkers. Throughout the centuries since then, humans have had to walk for pragmatic purposes, in general; although, perambulation for pleasure would have taken place (e.g. prehistoric peoples observing animals, and then recreating them in artistic expressions on cave walls).
The concept of taking a walk for mere pleasure (i.e. as a documented form) in the countryside emerged in 18th-century Western Europe: The Age of Enlightenment revealed to scientists, philosophers, artists, etc., the benefits of pleasurable meandering in Nature. The English Jesuit priest Thomas West (1720-1779) made the idea popular among the privileged classes of England, through his ‘Guide to the Lake District’ (1778). This inspired many English poets to indulge in pleasurable rustic perambulations, and their pastoral poetry influenced ordinary English readers.
However, private land owners objected to the hikers; although, ‘Right of Way’ is inscribed in the Magna Carta, and a person cannot be stopped from walking across a field. All issues would not be resolved until the ‘Countryside & Rights of Way Act of 2000’, though.
The difference between hiking and trekking is that hikers access bucolic paths, while trekkers ramble over areas without paths. Arguably, trekking first began (i.e. again, as a documented concept) in The United States of America, which had very little infrastructure in the pastoral regions, in 1783. A father and son, Abel Crawford and Ethan Crawford, trekked through Mount Washington in New Hampshire, in 1819. This influenced others to undertake trekking expeditions in the area.
John Muir was an important early-advocate of the preservation of wilderness in The United States of America; although, a foreigner himself. He petitioned the US-Congress for The National Park Bill that was passed in 1890; establishing Yosemite National Park and Sequoia National Park. The spiritual quality and enthusiasm towards Nature expressed in his writings inspired others to take action to help preserve large areas of undeveloped countryside for people to appreciate, value and enjoy.
Concerning mountaineering, prehistoric peoples climbed and crossed mountains, but the concept was not documented until Mediaeval periods in Europe: in the spring of 1336, with surfaces clear of snow, the Italianate poet Francesco Petrarca (1304-1374) climbed to the summit of Mount Ventoux (1,912 metres / 6,273 ft), in southern France.
Though, it would not be until 1492 that mountaineering would be noted as a true concept: Antoine de Ville (1450-1504), French noble, established a small team of climbers to reach the summit of Mont Aiguille, in France.
What a nice and positive article, Sarah !
I find hiking very interesting. I went hiking , during my California years, in Pacific Palisades by the Pacific Ocean ! It was beautiful and rewarding ! I was told by other hikers that there was a rattlesnake “Crotalus Oreganus” in one of the bushes along the trails ! Scary !
Further, as a teenager, I hiked extensively in the French Alps in Savoie, Mont Blanc ! I remember feeling exhausted because the camp forced us to hike all day for so many days in a row, but ultimately, when the trip was over, I looked back upon all those hikes and those days with a lot of fondness and nostalgia !
Trekking might be acceptable to me, but definitely not mountaineering, as I am too much of a scientist and am very aware with all the associated risks !
Thank you, Sarah, for this refreshing article ! You have brought back memories of my teenage and young-adult adventures !