Gear and Health
Plants - Animals
Right to Ramble
Towns Along the Way
An index of some towns near trails and parks that I've described.
My Interesting Tales page has old front page items. Dated but still interesting.
Rails to trails: A discussion of historical connections to old rail beds
A Misty path on Mont Royal, Montreal, on a rainy day.
February 27, 2009
Cool page of the month:
Have a look at Talking Walking, a site that highlights people who use walking to inspire them in their work and in life.
Some other cool stuff:
Remember Laurie Anderson? Here's a YouTube of her spacy song "Walking Falling."
Too out there? Try Robert Johnson from the 1920s playing "Walking Blues."
Of course, no walking site is complete without a reference to Monty Python's Ministry of Silly Walks skit. View it here . Remember to take notes.
The text of Thoreau's "Walking" is such a classic that I have included the full text on this site.Check out my notes. They are ongoing, but at this point the early sections are extensive.
One of the irritating aspects of the Internet is the unacknowledged borrowing that goes on. It's easy to find dozens of identical pieces of writing plus photos with no clear idea who did the original work.
I try to acknowledge sources and provide appropriate links. Unless clearly noted, all writing is original to this site. Please, if you use any of this material, acknowledge me (Peter R. Snell) or the credited writer if it is not me, and vishwawalking.ca. Photos without credits were taken by me.
The Peripatetic Perambulations of Poncho Pete (and Other Diversions)
Some parts of this site will forever be unfinished. Its pages are constructed as strolls, which means some sections are not as easy to get at as others.
Happy vishwawalking! -Peter R. Snell"Walking, ideally is a state in which the mind, the body and the world are aligned, as though they were three characters finally in conversation together, three notes suddenly making a chord. Walking allows us to be in our bodies and in the world without being made busy by them." - Rebecca Solnit, Wanderlust (p. 5)
To access information on trails I have described (mostly in southern Ontario), click on the "Vishwawalks" or "Parks, etc." links on the toolbar.
It's cross-country skiing time in my neck of the woods in Central Ontario, Canada. The conditions are prime right now (February, 2015). Left is a picture of a three-story apartment for squirrels, insects and other residents of Vanderwater Park south of Tweed.
Every dedicated walker has felt that at least sometimes their addiction was viewed as a crime. Taking a shortcut through someone's private property one might meet with the outraged "owner" of a large tract of land. (I scare quote "owner" because I lean to the native belief that no one can really own land. We can be caretakers and as walkers we must be caretakers of any land we walk upon.
If some of this sounds familiar, you're part of a tradition that stretches back hundreds of years. Have a look at Donna Landrer's "Radical Walking" essay. This is a fine piece of academic writing. "Whether in cities or the country, we are now in effect poachers in privatised space," concludes Landry.
She mentions 18th-century walker Foster Powell (right), who walked 402 miles in fives days, amongst other feats.
A cartoon of Foster Powell (see comment to the left).This image is
from a delightful collection of images of and writings about quirky
characters in The Book of Wonderful Characters, published in 1869.
Finlo Rohr has written an excellent piece connecting walking with thinking, wandering, getting lost (in a good sense), writing, philosophy and the like. It's a BBC piece called "The slow death of purposeless walking" (May 1, 2014).
Algonquin Park, Ontario
I walked the entire Highlands Backpacking Trail in one day on August 21, 2013. It's a 35-kilometre trail in Algonquin Park, but with the extensions it ended up as a 40-kilometre walk for me. Read my report here. I have also posted my late September walk in Algonquin's Eastern Pines Backpacking Trail.
In the spring of 2013, I walked the first 200 miles of the southern section of the Appalachian Trail, from Amicalola Falls State Park (the approach trail at the south end) to the start of the trail on Springer Mountain (both in Georgia), then on to to Clingmans Dome just inside the border of Tennessee, with North Carolina to the south. I've completed a description of the approach trail and the first 60 miles. See here for my Appalachian page
The U.S. government is cutting off its nose to spite its face, as my mum used to say.
Here's a piece from the Knoxville Daily Sun describing cutbacks to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and similar parks across the country. It's killing a thriving tourist industry and depriving millions of Americans of a cheap and healthy way to relax.
A view of the Blue Ridge Mountains from Rocky Bald on the Appalachian trail (127.5
miles from Springer Mountain). A photo cannot do justice to the breathtaking
splendour of these mountains: after hours of long, exhausting trekking, the top of
a mountain is reached, or there is an opening in the trail's forest canopy, and you
cannot fail to be awestruck by the grandeur of these ancient hills. Photo: June 5, 2013
Here's a touching story from 1969 about a seven-year-old boy who got lost in the Great Smokies and was never found.
In Canada, the federal government and the Ontario provincial government (and likely other provinces) are slashing programs too. It's somewhat more muted than the American version, but it's slow and steady and it's eroding our parks and natural spaces. (See this Globe and Mail report for federal park cuts; this Toronto Star article for Ontario park cuts.) Same end effect: a nasty jab at affordable recreation for the middle and lower classes, a devastating kick at the livelihood of tourist operators, and the elimination of hundreds of research programs, youth programs and the like to generally lower our standard of living. False thrift. Recently, (2014) the Ontario provincial government, backed off slightly, reopening three parks—and then wanted accolades for correcting their error.
While their language can be obscure, the U.S.-based Performing Mobilities Network is intriguing. They apparently use performance artists to investigate aspects of "mobility" including walking. If they could get a tad further from the foggy artistic/academic doubletalk, they could be onto something. As one of my careers includes performance, it seems a good thing could be developed here. Of course, gypsies and the like were on to this years ago, but still, a formal (practical) investigation of art and walking could be exciting. Sign me up!
Camping in the air. This is from the Daily Mail. Slackwalking and now camping on nets and ropes. Definitely out there! Take a stroll with nothing but 420 feet of air between you and the desert sand.
Camping on nets and wires in Moab, Utah. The feat took
twelve daredevils to haul up the supporting ropes.
Daily mail photo by Andy Lewis
"But the slightest rise and fall in the road,—a mossy bank at the side of a crag of chalk, with brambles overhanging it,—a ripple over three or four stones in the stream by the bridge,—above all, a wild bit of ferny ground under a fir or two, looking as if, possibly, one might see a hill if one got to the other side of the trees, will instantly give me intense delight, because the shadow, or the hope, of hills is in them.
— John Ruskin, The Mountain Glory
Study of Gneiss Rock, Glenfinlas, 1853, Ashmolean Museum,
Oxford, England. Pen and Ink and wash with Chinese ink on
paper. Photo: From John Ruskin Wikopedia page.
Vanderwater Park, near Thomasburg, Ontario is my "home park." This ice and water pictorial essay of a little seasonal falls and creek that flows in the park, eventually pouring into the Moira River, describes one of my favourite haunts.
The "Vishwawalks" and "Day walks" links to the left will lead you to the walks I have chronicled so far.
The former are generally long-distance trails (which I break down into day walks) and the latter are parks and more contained trails.
The trails listed are mostly local to central Ontario where I live. I trust this will expand with time.
Some parks are more than day walks and some shorter trails can be done in a day; check them both out.
For those who are a little more daring, check out my "Get Lost" link to the left. Follow the links and you'll find my investigation of abandoned buildings and the like. (These adventures are not for the timid.)
The site map page has a standard index that may help. A list of towns near trails and parks may also help.
"Funky places" will lead you to some great not-so-mainstream places to wander around.
"Future walks" is an ongoing exercise in which I build up information on walks I have not yet taken. In this section I am presently checking out a 19th-century book by C.G. Harper, tracking his travels through England and adding more contemporary information.
***Interesting tales Stories and links that have graced the front page in the past can be found here. Cool walking sites, mechanical legs, naked hikers, we'll keep you posted.
World walkers: It seems that many world walkers either weary of their walks or weary of the business of updating their websites. A casual stroll through several world-walker sites reveal bold plans, but no clue as to whether they were completed. Still, have a look at the sites of Hawk McGuinness, Jean Béliveau, Darren Wendell, William Bryan Schlackman et al., and the walkers in the column to the right. Amazing stuff.
The Goliath Expedition: Karl Bushby started walking around the world in November 1998. His last Internet message seems to be April, 2012, so where he is now is anybody's guess. The above site has nice graphics but poor information.
Gary "Walkingman" Hause"Keep on Walking, Life is Amazing, Singing Zippity Do Dah , All Day Long." — quote from House, who has completed his Australia leg walking and biking around the world. Apparently, he' headed out of Arizona in November 2012 walking toward Mexico.
Captain Robert Barclay-Allardice, 1779-1854, the Celebrated Pedestrian. He once walked 1,000 miles in 1,000 hours — a walker to be reckoned with. Peter Radford has a book about him called The Celebrated Captain Barclay, Headline Books Publishing, London, 2001. Check out this Guardian Review of the book. (Photo from the Wikipedia website: Photo by Robert Adamson and David Octavius Hill in the National Galleries of Scotland. Check out the Wikipedia links about the artists; they're a fascinating pair.)
"I have met with but one or two persons in the course of my life who understood the art of Walking, that is, of taking walks — who had a genius, so to speak, for sauntering, which word is beautifully derived "from idle people who roved about the country, in the Middle Ages, and asked charity, under pretence of going a la Sainte Terre," to the Holy Land, till the children exclaimed, "There goes a Sainte-Terrer," a Saunterer, a Holy-Lander. They who never go to the Holy Land in their walks, as they pretend, are indeed mere idlers and vagabonds; but they who do go there are saunterers in the good sense, such as I mean."
— Henry David Thoreau
Left to right: Matt Snell and Peter R. Snell, Vanderwater Park, Ontario. Photo: Carol Snell, October, 2008
This site is a chronicle of rambles, both long and short. There is a section on odd or out-of-the way sites of interest. You will find various ruminations on the art of walking and some practical information that will make walks more fun. There's lots of impractical stuff too, to keep things lively.
Vishwawalking is both the physical act of walking and the mental act of dreaming an exotic walk. I make no apologies for the wordiness here; this is not a find-it-fast website.
The planned walks I have not done outstrip the ones I have chronicled. It's a game: the virtual trips unfold until there's nothing for it but to attempt it in reality.
Both virtual and real trips are always works in progress.
Real walks need to be taken with a care for observation; virtual walks are a meander through endless sources. They too should never be rushed.
The larger dream: just as road maps connect highways and backroads, so "vishwamaps" could connect walking routes in a fantastic web across nations around the world.
an opportunity here for those who are willing to take the
road less travelled to find attractions that are not
in many guidebooks.
Vishwawalking can be undertaken by anyone with a love for walking, whether it be a quick half hour at lunch or four months on the Appalachian Trail. Its more particular meaning involves creating walking "threads," which I describe here.
"We should go forth on the shortest walk, perchance, in the spirit of adventure, never to return, — prepared to send back our embalmed hearts only as relics to our desolate kingdoms."—Thoreau
Sunset, Moira River, below Vanderwater Park. November 2008