Saturday, July 18, 2020

#200 / Let's Take A Walk

There’s a misty-eyed look that comes upon people who have hiked the Appalachian Trail that convinces others there must be something spiritually transcendent about the trek, so I’ve encountered confusion when I’ve explained that in my limited experience—I’ve hiked only a quarter of the AT’s 2,200 miles—the reasons the expedition is so memorable are both more modest and more meaningful. The first is about companionship. Forget the myth of the solitary adventurer: The Appalachian Trail is virtually a mosh pit in high season and you leave having forged deep and unforeseen friendships. The second reason has to do with basic physical fitness. Those who can persist beyond the crucible of the first brutal weeks quickly find themselves in better shape than they have been in their entire adult lives.

The quotation above comes from a Wall Street Journal book review by Sam Sacks. His review of recent books on walking is intended to stimulate readers to take on any kind of walk at all, from the Appalachian Trail to a "Trumanesque" one-mile walk each morning. My son has actually walked the Appalachian Trail (the whole thing), and I will try to get his reaction to Sacks' assertions, but I think my son would agree with what Sacks says.

As for the illustration at the top of this blog posting, that comes from a child's coloring book, and derives from an original photograph that I remember from a Truman biography that I read in college. President Truman is looking very spry, and full of "vim and vigor" in the original photo, which I could not track down on the Internet. I have always remembered the photo, which does convey the truth of Sacks' assertion that walking is a great way to get into good shape physically. Sacks also claims that walking "has its magical effect: 'It alters time; it untangles thoughts.'" Consistent readers of this blog may remember that I heralded the exploits of William Helmreich some weeks ago. Helmreich walked the streets of New York City, putting in 6,000+ miles and covering every street in every borough, talking to the neighbors as he meandered through their streets. I touted this achievement as a good idea and an "original thought" that is worthy of emulation. I am sure Sacks would agree. 

I do (at least somewhat) practice what I preach, and so I can speak with at least some authority when I recommend the "let's take a walk" prescription. I walk less consistently than President Truman, and less extensively than my son, and I am nowhere near the goal of walking every street in my own community, as Helmreich did. Still, what Sacks is advocating has my full endorsement. I like the exercise, and I like the trees!

In this blog posting you will find a documented itinerary of one of my recent walks. If you don't find it to be an encouragement to take Sacks' advice, you can think of it as a kind of test of your neighborhood knowledge. Santa Cruz friends, perhaps, could figure out the route I walked, from and to my home!

Total time elapsed: 53 Minutes
Total distance: 2.6 miles
Total steps: 5,486
Flights climbed: 2

Is "walking" recommended? It is! Take it from Sam Sacks, and from me, too. Let's talk a walk!!

Image Credits: 
(1) -
(2) - (35) Gary A Patton personal photographs

1 comment:

  1. Good walking post, Gary! Jean and I see the places in your photographs on our daily walks through the neighborhoods, twixt here and downtown, and/or 41st Avenue. Walking is the best way to get anywhere, no need to park, no need to tie up your bike and risk theft of important parts. All it takes is shoes and one foot in front of the other.

    The first thing one learns from walking is that a mile is an easy stroll, two miles is a pleasant outing and five miles is a satisfying stretch. And it doesn't have to be an onerous task. Most everyone is within two miles of needed shopping, making most business needs within an easy walk.

    Walking is fun, easy, traditional and culturally meaningful.

    Hmmm, where shall we walk today?


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