The foot-traveller need not be ashamed of his mode of journeying. To travel on foot, is to travel like Plato and Pythagoras; and to these examples may be added the not less illustrious ones of Goldsmith and Rousseau. - John Davis ('A Wag's Progress', Walking in America, ed. Donald Zochert, 81)
Walking as a method of travel is a natural process. It connects you with your surroundings in a way that other means of transport cannot. Space is seen and experienced. Before hiking the Appalachian Trail, I had no real sense of what 2100 miles actually meant. On the trail we ran into a man from England who, discovering that we were thru-hikers, tried to explain to his son the distance that we were walking. He told him that we were walking about as far as they had flown to get to the US. Such an analogy doesn't really work, though, because of the way that space is compressed when you travel by plane. The faster you go, the less you understand how far you are going. Cars are better than planes but the drive home after we finished the trail was still disorienting. It seemed somehow impossible that we would travel in 3 days by car what it had taken us six months to walk. But I am jumping ahead to the end of the trail when I should be starting at the beginning.
My brother, Josh, left for our Southbound Appalachian Trail thru-hike the day after my graduation at the end of June 1999. We started hiking the next day by climing Mt. Katahdin
in Baxter State Park
, Maine. The trail terminus is at the summit. I had been to the mountain twice before but had both times been kept from summitting because of poor weather. The day we summitted the weather was perfect giving us a clear view of the wilderness that we were about to enter. We couldn't have asked for a better start to our trip.
On the Pacific Crest Trail front, I start my new job on Monday in order to start financing my 2007 trip. Now, while I save my pennies, I need to decide which digital SLR I'm going to lug from Mexico to Canada. I had my heart set on the Canon 20D but it is pretty darn heavy. Today I got my hands on the Pentax *istD for the first time. It is markedly smaller and lighter than the 20D. It also seems to handle fairly intuitively. More so, I think, than the 20D's lighter cousin the Digital Rebel. It also seems more solidly built than the Rebel. So, the question is, what will win out, my love for the 20D or the almost 1/2 lb that I'd save carrying the *ist? (well, in the naming department the *ist isn't winning any points, how are you supposed to pronounce that?)