I love travelling on foot. There doesn’t need to be a purpose or should I say walking IS the purpose? There is something soothing and meditative about the unhurried and rhythmic pace of walking.
I enjoy solo walks. The solitary walker is not distracted by social commitments. There is no pressure to talk or please or think about what to say next. Alone, I become an observer, I am more engaged with my emotions and more connected with the surrounding environment. With the mind of a traveller, each walking journey is an exploration.
Solo hiking is a humbling and enriching experience. I seek the nature to be away from people and to rid my mind of them. The outdoor is my breathing space. If walking is my purpose, solitude is my motivation. On my own, there is no faster or slower. In the moment of stillness, I breathe in the air, so pure and quiet. I find solace in nature where men are few and far between. It is neither happy nor sad, just tranquility. The outdoor experience is rough on the feet but smooth for the soul. As I walk, the dark clouds that have been clogging my brain starts to clear, thoughts are fewer but clearer, life becomes simpler. Neither the past nor the future matters for it is the now I’m living in. I focus on the trail immediately ahead.
Something about nature touches me as I think about all that human greed and folly she has to endure. People come to the outdoors for different reasons. For some, it is a social activity. There are hikers who come to nature, playing music loud on speakers, I cannot fathom why. That is not my idea of connecting with nature. Ideally, it does not involve talking, music players and phones. The kind of connection I’m thinking is a state of mindfulness that has a primitive instinct to it. It is a different sensory experience in the wild. One becomes alert to the slightest sound and movement. I learn to listen to my own body including my fears. The greatest benefit I have experienced so far is the solitude that comes from being in an isolated place and removed from social expectations and liberated from my own prejudices.
If I find the trail to be populated to such extent I couldn’t walk freely at my own pace, then the purpose of walking is no more. I find myself with an innate drive within me that hounds me to go faster in order to be freed. Perhaps, I need to go deeper into the woods. Most of my hiking experiences are in Hong Kong, where one is never too far from civilisation.
In my solitary hikes, I have had the chance to reflect on some important life lessons.
What goes up must come down. Diversions are inevitable. Expect the unexpected. Know my limits. Retrace my steps if necessary.
I look forward to the day I will experience nature’s grandeur once again.
This post is inspired by:
Teresa Baker, 7 March 2016, “The Bliss I Find in Solo Hikes”. Retrieved from https://tmbaker1165.wordpress.com/2016/03/07/the-bliss-found-in-solo-hikes/
Finlo Rohrer, 1 May 2014 “The Slow Death of Purposeless Walking”, BBC News Magazine. Retrieved from http://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-27186709?SThisFB
Jean-Jacques Rousseau, “Reveries of the Solitary Walker”
Images belong to the writer.
“I love Nature partly because she is not man, but a retreat from him… If this world were all man, I could not stretch myself, I should lose all hope. He is constraint, she is freedom to me. He makes me wish for another world. She makes me content with this.”
Henry Thoreau, Journal, 3 January 1853