Gear and Health
Plants - Animals
Right to Ramble
My Interesting Tales page has old front page items. Dated but still interesting.
Towns Along the Way
An index of some towns near trails and parks that I've described.
Rails to trails: A discussion of historical connections to old railbeds
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 Choking Hazard Orchestra:
Peter R. Snell's musical site (Nothing to do with walking!)
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.) Many thanks.
Like a walk, 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
N.B.: Some pages look wonky on Internet Explorer. Sorry.
To access information on trails I have described (mostly in southern Ontario), please click on the "Vishwawalks" or "Daywalks" links on the left toolbar.
"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.
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. The insane push to save government dollars will kill a thriving tourist industry and deprive millions of Americans of a cheap and healthy way to relax. It's happening all across the States and it's devastating parks.
Photo: from Flickr.com. I'm off to the Appalachians in June, when I'll
get my own picture of the sign!
Here 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.
Know your poisonous plants
I got a tip from a volunteer at Yosemite Park in California (an awesome park, by the way, with the Pacific Crest Trail cutting through it) referring to a site giving good information on poisonous plants. The link is here. I'll build a more comprehensive page as time allows that will expand on this information. Meanwhile, click on my "Plants-Animals" list in the links to the left to see the rough beginnings of the page. Thanks for the tip, Rachel.
The Art of Walking: A conference will be held at the the École Normale Supérieure de Lyon, October 10-12, 2013. It looks like the window for submitting papers is over (April 15, 2015), but the conference could be interesting if you're academically minded. In fact, the above link to a "Walking and Art" blog has some interesting reflections. The conference will feature papers that "engage the conceptual, cultural, textual, and visual dimensions of walking."
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.
Here are my January 2013 chronicles of the O'Hara Mill Homestead and Conservation Area, near Madoc Ontario. It has some fine trails with lots of loops so you can take on as little or as much as you like, from an easy half-hour walk to a full afternoon of hiking.
The Visitor Centre at O'Hara Mill Homestead and Conservation Area
Needing a lawyer for "slip and fall" cases is not something walkers like to think about. However, lawyer Madeline Johnson provided me with an article she wrote on such issues. Interesting reading, and stuff one should know but hopefully never need to use. Check out Madeline's Slip and Fall piece.
Walkers with invisible dogs invade Brooklyn! See this YouTube. The walkers with invisible dogs event is the creation of Improv Everywhere. Check out their 2013 No Pants Day in New York and around the world. Or, more recently, try their Ted talk that goes awry.
I can't have a front page without regular news on nude hiking. (See Interesting tales for past stories concerning hikers who get a charge out of walking in the buff in Germany and elsewhere. For places to do this and general news, check out Hiking Naked in America and Around the World.
You have to read the forums. Here's a sample: "I left my house this morning wearing only my trusty loincloth/kilt and my VFFs [Vibram Five Fingers, a type of "barefoot" shoe]. The loin cloth must be passing muster with my fellow Bostonians on my local trails, as several people, men and women alike, pulled me aside today and started chatting with me about my VFFs, how do I like? etc."
Stephen Gough is trudging across Britain as we speak. He has spent an incredible amount of time in prison for his efforts, but continues his hobby with passion. See this March 13, 2013 National Post article for details. In February, 2013, the courts ordered him to cover up, but if the past is anything to go by, he won't abide.
Prudery, attention-getting, psycological warts and so on aside, it's more about the right to be eccentric. The Brits, of all nations are experts at that.
Naked hiking in Vermont. Watch out for the poison ivy!
Photo from a Vermont "Freehiking" organization.
June 21, 2013 is apparently Naked Hiking Day (it's on the solstice). Get planning.
Some years ago, the Canadian Federation of Podiatric Medicine, declared Vancouver the best Canadian walking city. (By the way, the CFPM site is pretty cool if you're looking for advice on foot care.) Second was Fredericton, followed by Nanaimo, Brantford and Peterborough. A CNW article (which looks like it's actually a CFPN news release) provides more information, including a list of the top 15 cities. Westjet airlines has a 2010 list that's interesting, although a check of where the judges live indicates some bias in city choices.
Texting and walking -- not a good idea.
2012: Here's a CBC report on texting and walking. Some U.S. states are considering a ban on texting or listening to music while walking. Recently, after a decline, there's been an increase in deaths while walking. Some say this is because of inattentive walkers, listening to music or texting while walking. CBC filed a report from New York.
In Fort Lee, New Jersey, cops are Handing out $85 tickets for texting and walking. You are warned: in Fort Lee, just walk and chew your gum. Stop at a bar for a couple of beer before texting.
Time to walk faster. An article in the Post Chronicle discusses a study in which it claims older people who walk slowly will die earlier than those of the same age who walk faster. A report last year (2012) links slower walking with the greater chance of getting dementia in later years.
On the other hand, some claim that walking slower burns more calories. Be careful here: an often-cited University of Colorado report by Ray Browning actually makes a more subtle point, which is that obese people, who may like walking at a more leisurely pace will make more strides within a weight-loss management program than if they push themselves.
The Human Body is Built for Distance Check out this New York Times article. It's mostly about running, but there are arguments here for walkers to ponder.
I like the pitch for lower tech footwear. I'm testing out a very light pair of Vibram Five Fingers now (March 2013). It's too early to tell, but I think at the very least they'll make a light second piece of footwear for fording creeks and sitting around a camp in the evening giving my boots a rest.
Vishwa (or vishva) is Hindi for "world."
Walter Benjamin, in One-Way Street (1923-26):
"The power of a country road when one is walking along it is different from the power it has when one is flying over it by airplane. In the same way, the power of a text when it is read is different from the power it has when it is copied out.
"The airplane passenger sees only how the road pushes through the landscape, how it unfolds according to the same laws as the terrain surrounding it. Only he who walks the road on foot learns the power it commands, and of how, from the very scenery that for the flier is only the unfurled plain, it calls forth distances, belvederes, clearings, prospects at each of its turns like a commander deploying soldiers at a front. Only the copied text thus commands the soul to him who is occupied with it, whereas the mere reader never discovers new aspects of his inner self that are opened by the text, that road cut through the interior jungle forever closing behind it: because the reader follows the movement of his mind in the free flight of daydreaming, whereas the copier submits it to command. The Chinese practice of copying books was thus an incomparable guarantee of literary culture, and the transcript a key to China's enigmas."
I am walking; it is enough.
What's a site if no one views it? I have to accept that this enterprise involves a dose of indulgence. My writings, like Benjamin's copied texts are a discovery of "new aspects of [my] inner self, ... that road cut through the interior jungle forever closing behind it."
My graphically challenged site has no sophisticated wizardry to propel it to the top of search engine lists. Like my walks, I'm generally happy meandering the cyber backwaters.
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Ice grass, Nesowadnehunk Stream,
Appalachian Trail, Maine.
Page created: February 3, 2009
Updated: April 29, 2013