Saunter, don’t hike

John Muir Saunter, don't hike
John Muir

I love hiking. I love walking for the purpose of exercise, of a heart rate over 100bpm for hours on end, of the feeling of walking fast and strongly for exercise.

I also love to walk for a different reason, to walk to allow the process of walking to clear my mind, to solve a problem (see Solvitur Ambulando and here), to slow down (see here), to be creative (see here), to stretch time (see here).

Clearly walking is a repeated theme for me on this site! It is a miraculous thing and now that I live in a country with mild weather, I walk a lot, typically well over thirty miles a week.

Today I write about the power of sauntering as opposed to hiking.

Sauntering? What is that really?

Hiking – “I don’t like either the word or the thing. People ought to saunter in the mountains – not hike! Do you know the origin of that word ‘saunter?’ It’s a beautiful word. Away back in the Middle Ages people used to go on pilgrimages to the Holy Land, and when people in the villages through which they passed asked where they were going, they would reply, ‘A la sainte terre,’ ‘To the Holy Land.’ And so they became known as sainte-terre-ers or saunterers. Now these mountains are our Holy Land, and we ought to saunter through them reverently, not ‘hike’ through them.”

John Muir

John Muir was an inspirational and highly impactful Scottish-American naturalist, conservationist and philosopher, also known in the USA as “the Father of the National Parks”.

His wisdom on sauntering speaks for itself.

Sometimes I hike, often I saunter. Nature is, however we may each define the word, holy. Let us take time to saunter, to be in and with nature. It may solve problems, it may stretch or even stop time, it may make you more creative.

Take a walk, and sometimes, choose to saunter.

Also published on Medium.

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