Contemporary essay formation Philosophy Physical

Essay: Why I Walk

By Ben Kilbourne, Backpacking Light

As part of your formation with the Order of Walkers, there are questions you must pose to gain insight and promote growth. Ponder the age old “Why I walk”?  A simple question but a difficult answer to articulate. There are no wrong answers. It’s a  big sky and your essay of reasoning has a place. 

The question to oneself, Why do I walk ? perhaps speaks to why The Order exists and why it continues to regenerate with an unfailing youthful enthusiasm. I admire those who have sat down and constructed a coherent essay as to why they walk. It is not an easy navigable path. It cuts to the person you are and the way you see the world.

The Order commends this “Why I Walk” essay by Ben Kilbourne to you.

australia bushwalking essay Historical Literature Philosophy Vintage

Why do we walk?

This question sits with the Order of Walkers. Even after a most difficult walk and the passage of time, we are drawn to a new invitation to wander.

I am presenting a response by Norman Richards of the Melbourne Bushwalkers in the 1953 edition no 4 of the “Walk” magazine. Not much has changed.

This is a question that has been worrying most walkers ever since they first got the idea of going out of doors and spending their leisure time in such an abnormal manner. The walking, mountaineering and camping journals of the world have all published contributions by people trying to do themselves justice by explaining their actions to a doubting world. It is human nature to be interested in the logical justification of one’s actions, especially when, as in the case of bush- walking, the rigors of the game often by no means make for personal comfort.

Many good reasons have been advanced. For some the lure is purely and simply the desire for physical exercise, either for its own sake or for the physical fitness which ensues. There can be no doubt of the sense of well-being invoked by steady exercise taken in the fresh, clear air of the hills. There is also the satisfaction to be derived from the self-reliance essential for a trip in a remote area. Others are attracted by the companionship to be found on the track. No matter what your vocation or station in everyday life, once you join a walking party you get a new start; you are accepted for yourself. The pleasures of camp life away from all reminders of your ordinary existence cannot be under-estimated. Companionable sing-songs around the campfire leave many happy memories, as do days spent just soaking up the sunshine, or maybe paddling around the quiet pools of some mountain stream. The clock, although it still exists, ceases to dominate; where at home seconds are important, in the bush the unit of time can quite easily be the hour, or at worst the half-hour. Then, too, many people praise the charms of the scenery to be found away from the motor roads when one has the leisure provided by travelling per Shank’s pony. Especially in Australia where most of our scenery is not publicised but needs seeking out, does this leisureliness pay dividends of enjoyment. To us is often given the privilege of seeing things that few who do not walk can ever set eyes upon. If ever they should be able to drive over our routes we would know that the very road they travel changes the scene we knew. Finally, there are some who have been accused, often with some justice, of being attracted by the paraphernalia and gadgetry which some manage to introduce into their walking; the desire of the juvenile mind for fancy dress.

Any of the above reasons may be sufficient in some cases, but really most of us respond in part to a synthesis of them all, although there are many who do not waste time thinking about the matter at all; they walk because they enjoy doing so. Let’s all just enjoy it, and maybe in that way we’ll really get the most from our walks. The real enjoyment of a walking trip does not lend itself to logical analysis; in it there is much of the spiritual. Bushwalking demands an act of faith; we must put forth the effort before we can know that there is any reward. Once having made the effort we have no doubts. We just enjoy our walking.