The prize for walking the slowest

One of my all-time favourite books is Walking Home:  A Woman’s Pilgrimage on the Appalachian Trail by Kelly Winters. The book is a memoir of Winters’ six-month hike along the 2,000-mile Appalachian Trail from Georgia to Maine — a journey that requires trekking 10-20 miles or more each day, day after day after day, in order to complete the full distance before the snow flies.  Trail hikers often become obsessed with going as far as they can as fast as they can, writes Winters, noting one particular campfire discussion about “trail records” held by people who hiked or ran the Trail in the fewest number of days.  I love what Winters has to say next:

If I ever had to set a Trail record, I’d want the prize for walking it in the slowest time.  I’d hike two miles a day and look at every flower, every stone, every view and every footprint, and I’d spend every afternoon watching clouds, talking to birds, and chatting with other hikers.

Such is the art of being truly present — of being unrushed, of living in the moment, of being aware of your surroundings and engaging with them, of simply being a part of the world instead of burning on by it on the fast track to somewhere else.

The prize for walking the slowest.  Something worth aspiring to, I’d say.

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