Walking: Bliss or agony?

I read this article yesterday about the French philosopher Frédéric Gros, who claims walking can bring about a sense of peace.  At the same time I am reading Robert Macfarlane´s book The Old Ways where he kind of touches on the history of walking, from a British perspective. Of course. He also claims that walking moves you into a state of bliss. I have also browsed through two of Patrick Leigh Fermor´s books, A Time Of Gifts and Between The Woods And The Water, and there´s no doubt, he agrees with the other two. My friend, Lasse Berg, who is doing research and writes about the origins of humankind, clearly notes that we humans are made for walking and feel at piece when we do. That is how evolution has made us, into walkers.

Right now I am getting ready for another walk. And since I have done quite a lot of walking in my life, but still prefer skiing or cycling, I have been thinking how to enjoy it more. Because for me, I have a tendency, to walk just a little bit too far and instead enter the room of extreme tiredness and agony. Sometimes due to that I walk in 50 degrees desert temperatures, carrying a reasonably heavy backpack. At other times I walk in a perfect climate, like in northern Sweden, but instead carry a brutally heavy backpack since there´s no food or shelter for ten days. I guess you could call that professional walking, since it involves work, by which I mean, i have to perform a certain duty. Sure, I do enjoy the first hours in the morning, but after that time of joy, it ends up in looking forward to rest, eat and sleep. Maybe I am just not made for walking, and my physique and mind is more of an alien, since I prefer cycling or skiing.

My thoughts right now how to find new ways to enter that state of bliss and peace, is too never again use walking boots. I realized on my Yemen walks that they put to much pressure on heels, soles and toes. I hate them. I used Teva sandals for the last walk, perfect! I just taped the feet and no problem! And my cycling and weight training have made feet and ankles strong, so boots to steady the feet isn´t needed. I think a couple of good trainers could be the best solution. And a much lighter backpack!


But since I need to carry computer, cameras, accessories, it is almost impossible to avoid a heavy backpack if you don´t use pack animals. I guess one can leave the tent, stove and all those items and hope people will put you up and feed you. But that isn´t an all accepted way either today, with all that new eco stuff how to behave. You know, take only photos and leave only footsteps. So, it seems like I am doing another walk far from the bliss it is supposed to give!

However, when cycling and skiing, I do understand. It took me years after my three long cycling tours over 7.5 years to feel happy when not pedaling. Still today, when I get up on a bike, it makes me happy, my brain starts working immediately and I feel…the bliss! Same with skiing! And, I think one reason for this, is that at times you can actually relax when going downhill for example. Both these ways to travel gives you some time to pause. Which doesn´t happen whilst walking. One just stops, wondering:

“Why, why? It is just agony!”


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