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Past front-page items and related interesting stuff
This information has graced the front page in the past. It's dated but there's some good stuff here.

Camping in the air -- from the Daily Mail

Camping in the air. This is from the Daily Mail. Slackwalking and now camping on nets and ropes is 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

This might not technically be walking, but it's known as "wing walking." Pretty crazy stuff. A professional wing walker died in late June 2013 when the plane she was

wing walker-daily mail photo

performing on crashed.

Photo: from the Daily Mail (see link above).


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)

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."

Nude Hiking

You have to read some of the nude hiking forums to really enjoy this passtime. 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."

They're embarrassed so they're looking at your feet, Bud.

Stephen Gough trudged across Britain starkers. In October, 2014, the European Court of Human Rights rejected his bid to get them to support his claim that his rights are being transgressed.

naked rambler - stephen gough Guardian photo He has spent an incredible amount of time in prison for his efforts. See this June 19, 2013 Guardian article for details on his latest jailing.   In February, 2013, the courts ordered him to cover up, but he  obviously didn't abide.

Prudery, attention-getting, psychological warts and so on aside, it's more about the right to be eccentric. The Brits, of all nations are experts at that.

After 2016, personal commitments have cut back Stephen's naked walnderings and he's dropped out of the news.

Stephen Gough hiking in Scotland. See the full Guardian (link to the
left) article for more. Photo from the Guardian site.

June 21 is naked hiking day in the United States. Think I'll pass. Just saying.

Of course, if you meet a naked hiker, depending upon your gender, it could be unsettling. Here's a woman who has some advice if you meet a naked hiker on the Appalachian, or any trail for that matter: Six safety tips a naked hiker taught me.

naked hikers, bbc photo

A Swiss local government objects to naked hikers.
(Photo: BBC, January 2009). I just can't resitst a certain fascination with these hikers; I still have stuff about them on the front page. I guess it's their nakedness and their robust footgear and  backpacks that are oddly incongruous.

Here's a piece from one of Dr. Andrew Weil's monthly health emails:
 "Walking: There is a "Right" Way!
(removed from front page in December, 2014)

Walking is an ideal way to get daily exercise - it strengthens almost every major organ in the body, promotes optimal bone density, and boosts the immune system. But have you considered how to best put one foot in front of the other? Your walking habits can have an impact on how much benefit you get from each outing. Keep the following in mind when walking:

  1. Walk with your head erect. Train your sight 10 to 20 feet ahead of you. If you need to check the ground to avoid obstacles, lower your eyes, not your head, and try not to thrust your trunk forward or let your arms dangle listlessly at your sides.
  2. Keep your back straight. Stretch your spine so your shoulders are level and square, and tuck your buttocks in.
  3. Bend your arms. Flex your elbows at close to 90-degree angles and let your arms swing at waist level.
  4. Take shorter, measured steps, with your feet striking the ground with the heel and pushing off with the toes. An unnaturally long stride can throw you off balance.
The admonition in #1 to lower your eyes and not your head is a tough one. It works on garden paths, but not on really rough terrain.



Texting and walking - not a good idea.
Texting and walking is more dangerous than listening to music or taking a call. In some provinces and states you can be ticketed for it.

Time to walk faster. Some studies indicate that older people who walk slowly will die earlier than those of the same age who walk faster. A 2012 report linked slower walking with a 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.

Some politics

Here's a piece from the Knoxville Daily Sun describing cutbacks to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and similar parks across the U.S. Of course Trump's legacy has only made matters worse.It's killing a thriving tourist industry and depriving millions of Americans of a cheap and healthy way to relax.
appalachian: view from rocky baldA view of the Blue Ridge Mountains from Rocky Bald on the Appalachian trail (127.5 miles from the southern start of the trail at Springer Mountain). A photo cannot do justice to the breathtaking splendour of these mountains. After hours of exhausting trekking, the top of a mountain is reached and there is an opening in the trail's forest canopy. You
cannot fail to be awestruck by the grandeur of these ancient hills. Photo: June 5, 2013 

In Canada, the federal government and the Ontario provincial government (and likely other provinces) slashed programs around 20212 and budgets have never really recovered. (See this Globe and Mail report for federal park cuts and this Toronto Star article for Ontario park cuts back in 2012. ) 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. Governments have backed off these cuts somewhat since then.

bionic leg apparatus from Honda
 Here's an interesting "walking gadget" from Honda that takes some stress off the knees. No price tag on this, but I'd guess it's not cheap. From a CBC article, November 7, 2008.


Old Front-page news:
Utopians unite!
Gil Penalosa, Executive director of 8-80.org2012: Gil Penalosa (left) is the director of   8-80 Cities,  a Toronto-based organization with an international outlook that promotes ways to develop liveable cities. He described amazing progress made in major cities such as New York and Copenhagen.

Perhaps with vision, we'll see the demise of the vehicle-centred city. Imagine a city with only public transit in its main thoroughfares.Penalosa and his organization show that, with imagination it's possible and far more economically feasible than some of the crazy vehicle-based projects most cities take on.

On the 8-80 site is a report on walking, cycling and obesity. Anyone who has walked in North America and Europe knows that Europeans walk/cyle much more than us lazy U.S. and Canadian citizens  (I'm not so sure about the Mexicans) and that obesity rates are much lower in Europe generally. Is there perhaps a connection?

The U.S-based Smart Growth America has similar goals.


¡¡Abandoned site alert!!
March, 2010: History destroyed! I have received emails from local folks in Lakefield, Ontario, noting the demise of the Lakefield cement factory silos. I walked through the silos in the old cement factory there in May 2009. The silos are now in the process of being torn down. See my exploration of the site here in my Get Lost folder.

Many people, it seems, saw them as an eyesore. However, their acoustic properties were fantastic. I compared them to the Montreal #5 grain elevator in my description..

See the Lakefield Herald (thanks to writer Anita Locke for this piece, for alerting me to the wrecking and for the other links).  See also:  My Kawartha (Note the cutline under the picture, referring to a "wreaking" ball. Exactly.).  The Peterborough Examiner also has a story and a picture of the silos being felled by the freaking wreaking ball. Shed a tear...

Presqu'ile Provincial Park, boardwalk opening, June 14, 2009.June 14, 2009: The boardwalk is back! Presqu'ile Provincial Park near Brighton, Ontario has a reconstructed boardwalk that officially opened on June 14, 2009. It's a loop, just slightly over a kilometre long including non-boardwalk bits and gives the walker a glimpse of some fine marsh wildlife. In season, view pumpkinseed fish (as kids, we knew them as sunfish), mayflies, tiny red mites swimming about and of course frogs and the usual birds — and so on and so on. It's magic.
A "teaching station" near the end of the boardwalk,
June 14, 2009.

The "boards" are actually made largely from recycled plastic. The Friends of Presqu'ile Provincial Park are the hard-working folks behind this. They have one more observation tower and a spur to build.

The original boardwalk was dismantled in 2005 after it was decided it was too dilapidated for the public to use.

August, 2010: This is a booze ad, granted. But it's a good one and the company's slogan is "Keep on walking." A little nip along the trail is always a treat on a long walk.

Sept 25, 2009: Nude Walker alert. Uh-oh! The proponents of nude walking are at it again. They're having problems establishing a trail for nude walkers in the Herz Mountains in Germany, but some people are bucking the move. These walkers are doing more than hiking their trousers/dresses, they're chucking them off completely and travelling with only their backpacks and hiking boots. They look a little odd with in their partial clothing and gear, but hey, if it amuses them why not? See the BBC article.

September to October, the Frontenac Provincial Park Challenge, The park is is north of Sydenham, Ontario, which is north of Kingston. As in past years, the Friends of Frontenac Park are sponsoring the Frontenac Challenge. It involves walking all 160 kilometres of the park's loop trails (a couple of the non-loop trails are not included) between September 1 and October 31. If you concentrate, you can do it in a week. I did it in eight days this year over an 11-day period. I camped for a couple of nights (three days)  and made day runs for the rest.  That means you still have lots of time to catch the fall colours in a world-class park. For information, including contacts and rules, see this Friends of Frontenac page.

April 20, 2009: Good news from the Carolinian Canada Coalition. "The group wants to plan a trail system from Point Pelee to Niagara-on-the-Lake [Ontario] and promote education and research on parks along Lake Erie, including Point Pelee’s erosion and species at risk."

The not so good news (Windsor Star, 2008, scroll down a bit) is that human interference, and particularly harbours and breakwalls are causing the beaches and the point to disintegrate on sections of lake Erie's north shore. A CBC news story relates how Point Pelee's sand point was blown away in 2006. It reappeared as water levels in Lake Erie dropped, but there is an ongoing concern for the area. It would be much better if setbacks from waterfronts were extreme. Then these problems would not be as severe — and we'd all be able to enjoy a stroll  along the lakeshore.

Who knew?
from: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Waulking_songOkay, this doesn't have anything to do with actually "walking walking," but fulling or tucking in woolen clothmaking is also called "walking" or "waulking." To walk cloth is to cleanse it and to soften it. While researching sean nós, or "old songs" in the Irish tradition,  I ran into references to "waulking songs." While women conditioned a woolen weave or tweed by beating it rhythmically, they would sing. Usually a soloist took the verses while the group took up the chorus often in meaningless ("non-lexible"") vocables (la-la, ti-de-dum, etc.).

"Walking songs": women singing while  walking or waulking cloth.

(From Wikepedia.)
For more check out the waulking song entry in Wikipedia.

Foster Powell

Radical Walking

Every dedicated walker has sometimes felt that 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. "Whether in cities or the country, we are now in effect poachers in privatised space," concludes Donna Landry in an essay titled "Radical Walking."

She mentions 18th-century walker Foster Powell (right), who walked 402 miles in fives days, amongst other feats

A cartoon of Foster Powell.This image is from a delightful collection
of images of and writings about quirky characters in The Book of Wonderful Characters, published in 1869.

Radical Walking

Every dedicated walker has sometimes felt that 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. "Whether in cities or the country, we are now in effect poachers in privatised space," concludes Donna Landry in an essay titled "Radical Walking."

She mentions 18th-century walker Foster Powell (right), who walked 402 miles in fives days, amongst other feats.

John Ruskin, Study of Gneiss Rock, 1853. Ashmolean Museum, Oxford, England

"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.


Left: a three-story apartment for squirrels, insects and other residents of Vanderwater Park south of Tweed.

Past Cool Sites of the Month:

September, 2012:
Going to Toronto? Live in Toronto? Check out the
Discovery Page
on the City of Toronto's Website. It lists a number of cool walks.
Try the The Walking Connection. It's slightly dated, but there are still some good links  (mostly U.S.) here.

December 2010-January 2011
A cool page with some descriptions of different kinds of walking. OK, OK, you're not into the technical stuff. Still. it's fun to read... Cool Walking.

October, November, 2010:
Here's a no-nonsense site by a self-described "mom, wife, walker, personal trainer and marathon walking coach." It's got straight-ahead info on shoes, nutrition, how to get started (duh, put one foot in front of the other...) Nice site to check out.: the walking site.

November, December, 2009; January, February 2010:
Geoff Nicholson wrote a book called The Lost Art of Walking: The Science, Philosophy, and Literature of Pedestrianism (Riverhead Books, a division of Penguin Books, 2008). It's a fun look at walking through history and a must-have for walkers. Have a look at his photos on Flickr.

August, 2009:
Walking in L.A.  I like Neil Hopper's usually minimalist descriptions of walks he has done, mostly in L.A., in the U.S.A., but he does take some road trips. His description of a trip to Utah: "Drove a lot, saw lots of trees, lots of desert, ate in lots of restaurants, stayed in lots of motels. As close as I ever get to having fun." His L.A. walks have pictures and Google maps but no talk.

ome old pics from the fr
Some old pics from past front pages:

Riviere du Nord, near St. Jerome, March, 2009.This photo was taken in March, 2009:
The Rivière du Nord, near St. Jerome is north of Montreal. It can put on a pretty good show..

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Page created June 21, 2009
Updated: December 14, 2013