On our new EverWalk Nation app/website, you’ll find many resources for walkers.
One of the most exciting is our chat feed and resource area for folks who love to walk and travel, travel and walk. Join the new EverWalk Nation and check it out here: WALK OUR WORLD
The chat feed is called the Which Way Travel Club — a place where walkers can connect and plan their next adventures with other walkers. The club inspired the title of this blog. Because in deciding ”which way” when walking and traveling, the most important thing to consider is what makes a great walk — for YOU!
What Kind of Walk Are You Looking For?
Walks can be classified in many ways.
By location: from urban to mountainous, from desert to jungle. . .
By difficulty: from city stroll to Everest ascent (okay, not technically a “walk”). . .
By length: from a day trip to a pilgrimage. . .
By goal: from putting one foot in front of another to reaching a destination to covering long distances to spiritual awakening. . .
There are countless websites and blogs that list the great walks and hikes of the world. But how do you decide which way is the way for you?
Here’s some food for thought. Please chat about it in the comments!
What is a pilgrimage and who are modern-day pilgrims?
A pilgrim has traditionally been a person who journeys, usually a long distance, to some sacred place(s) as an act of (religious) devotion. In recent years, the “religious” concept has broadened to include deeply personal journeys that honor a loved one, an ideal, self-realization, and more. But whether a more traditional or modern idea of pilgrimage — one thing has remained consistent. The journey is as, or more, important, than the destination.
Which is probably why poets such as Constantin Cavafy capture this so well.
In his poem Ithaka (which was Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis’ favorite poem — and was read at her memorial), Cavaky reminds us that on every journey we will encounter adventure, discovery, even monsters that teach us something. We will encounter the beauty and the joy of seeing someplace for the first time. We will find riches and learning. And at some point, all of that begins to seem more important than any actual destination. Because it is. So even if reaching that destination takes a lifetime, you will be rich inexperience. Because the destination is what “gave you the marvelous journey”. So even if the place you thought you were going doesn’t end up being as extraordinary as some of the places you have been along the way, “wise as you will have become, so full of experience, you’ll have understood by then what these [pilgrimages] mean.”
If this is the kind of journey you feel called to take, here are links to some iconic pilgrimages: BECOME A PILGRIM
Inspired by EverWalk founders Diana Nyad and Bonnie Stoll’s epic swim(s) from Cuba to Florida, EverWalk has its foundation in the epic adventure. Our walkers have covered 135 miles in a week from San Diego to Los Angeles, Boston to Maine, Vancouver to Seattle, and Philadelphia to DC.
What is the appeal of an epic adventure?
In some ways, our contemporary thirst for epic adventure is an extension — a modernization, if you will — of the pilgrimage. As the world got smaller, the “frontiers” and wild places became “civilized”, the classic quest that took us out of our comfort zones into the unknown became more difficult to achieve. But get out on something like the Appalachian Trail, and you’ll find it. Try to walk twenty miles a day, and you’ll find it.
Epic means different things to different people. To Diana Nyad, epic means “not wasting any of your time. It’s not that the dream is that big. It’s that you’re engaged. You want to feel alert and awake every minute of your life, that you are living an epic life.”
Epic adventures give those of us who feel our lives have become, perhaps, less than epic, a chance to kickstart ourselves. So if you need a little kickstart, here are links to some epic trails (and other gentler pursuits, too). A wonderful list to inspire: WANDERLUST.
For many people, to journey back in time is a pilgrimage that gives us perspective both on the present and the past, our own lives and the state of the world.
One of the best ways to learn about a culture is through walking — especially since walking was the primary mode of transportation in the past — before the invention of motors that most of us can afford to use.
Why go back in time? Because we understand our own place in history, because we learn how we got here — in this moment in time. And because it helps us appreciate the comforts we have now — as well as some of the connection to nature and to one another that we have lost in our modern world.
If this kind of historic journey appeals to you, here are some great walks for you to try: The Great Wall of China The Incan Trail, Hadrians Wall, Mount Sinai, Petra. (But there are so many more — check them out on the Wanderlust list above.)
Are you more of a city person?
If none of the walks we’ve shared have sounded all that appealing, perhaps you are more of an urban explorer. Do you love walking through cities people watching, window shopping, architecture gazing? Do you love who the old and the new blend and how your mind wanders, you feet take you down alleys and into new neighborhoods.
As one of our EverWalk Book Club selections, we read Flaneuse — a book about saunters through cities at a pace that allows you to take in all in, to get lost and find yourself and the unexpected.
According to author Lauren Elkin, a flanuese is a “determined, resourceful individual keenly attuned to the creative potential of the city and the liberating possibilities of a good walk.”
Some of the greatest cities for walking include Paris, London, New York, but there are so many more — including Buenos Aires, Tokyo, Beijing, Quebec City, San Francisco. . .oh we could go on and on! Become a flaneuse, and you’ll see!
To read about Diana Nyad’s love of urban exploration, check out here blog. DIANA’S BLOG.
The Faraway Nearby
Maybe all this sounds fascinating, but you need to find someplace simple and affordable and close by to walk every day. Or maybe your idea of a great walk is around your neighborhood, in a nearby nature preserve. Indeed, you do not have to get in a car or on a plane or train to find a wonderful walk. Most towns these days have created walking trails that connect green belts or parks or even parts of town.
The rail-to-trail movement is a huge boon for walkers, repurposing old railway corridors as safe and beautiful places for walkers and bikers. Check out this wonderful organization to find a walking trail near you: RAILS TO TRAILS.
Day hikes are also a great way to get away without going far. Almost every area has local day hikes — and most usually have produced a pamphlet or book with all of them listed by length, location and difficulty. A day hike can make you feel like you’ve gone on a journey — and you’re home in time for dinner.
And of course, there’s the wonder of exploring your own neighborhood — something so many of us have done during the pandemic. Discovering how much you appreciate a neighbors garden, or look forward to seeing someone’s sweet dog. Enjoying different color doors or waving at folks sitting on their porches.
That’s the beauty of walking. You don’t have to go far to get out of the loop of your own thinking. . .
Do you want to really get to know someplace? The more exotic corollary to local adventures is travel that takes you to one destination and then allows you to explore it deeply. To get to know it — more like a local and less like a visitor. On foot. To do this, you need to find a place that welcomes walking culture — and one of the best places for this is England. To walk the Lake District or the Cotswalds is to be in nature, in history, in local ecosystems, among shepherds and Shakespeare, while staying quaint inns. What a glorious way to travel.
Whatever your style of walking,
whatever your next adventure may be —
we hope these ideas will spark some inspiration.
If you’d like to connect with other adventurous walkers,
plan your next trip, or just walk virtually with others,
please join our new EverWalk Nation app/website
and share Which Way is the way for you!
To join from your web browser, please click here: EVERWALK NATION
To join from your mobile device, please click here: EVERWALK APP