Friday, December 24, 2010

Oakey Mountain Shelter to Jones Branch

View from the shelter

12.5 miles

Walking on the trail today, I thought about walking. Not much else to think about. I thought about how I have walked at least 3000 miles in my life. I’m not even sure that’s a lot. I’ve spent several years of my life doing little but walking, but how does that compare to those African women who have to walk three miles a day just to get to a water source?

Compared to what a lot of people have walked, most Americans for instance, 3000 miles is a lot. Walking 3000 miles makes me something of an expert. It makes me a walker. But what is it about walking? Why is it so important?

I like to think of my own walking adventure as a pilgrimage—hence my subhead—just like Annie Dillard does. My walking is a pilgrimage because I’m seeking after something as I walk. I’m following in the tradition of great walkers of the past. But what am I seeking? Is the answer the walking itself? Is the adage true—the journey is the destination?

Being a walker means I have bad knees. Because I carry my belongings on my back, I have bad shoulders, too. But I continue to walk. Searching after something, not always knowing what, like all the pilgrims who have gone before. On this not-all-that Christmas-y Christmas Eve, maybe I’m one of those magi who still wander unknown paths, following a strange star.

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