A couple of years ago, I wrote a post entitled “Walkin’,” in which I detailed the pleasures of short walks around town. In that post, I also mused about long-distance walking, and even about its popularity in the 1960s and 1970s. One of my readers and subscribers even noted the construction of The Palmetto Trail, a five-hundred-mile trail that cuts diagonally from the Upstate (the northwestern corner of South Carolina) down to the Lowcountry (the southeastern side of our State’s triangle), of which roughly 380 miles are completed. That trail wends through State parks and towns, offering a variety of landscapes and scenes.
In listening to John Taylor Gatto excessively over Spring Break (and nursing a bad foot-and-ankle sprain), he frequently mentioned stories about famous individuals who completed massive, almost absurd tasks, often with little training. For example, he frequently told the story of a six-year old Richard Branson walking home in London after his mother drove him around for a few hours, and then asked, “Richard, do you think you can find your way home?” When the child responded yes, the mother told him to get to it, booted him from the car, and drove home. Branson (per Gatto) said that after that experience, he was never afraid of anything again, and could face any challenge.
I’m not advocating we drop six-year olds off in the middle of nowhere and make them walk home (my niece is six, and while she is brave and confident, I shudder to think what might become of her if my brother pulled the same stunt). But there is a real need for adventure in our lives. There’s also something to be said for the benefits of taking on and conquering—or even just attempting and failing—a large-scale undertaking.