My 100 Favorite Walkers
#1 John Francis
I read his book Planetwalker a couple of years ago. John Francis walked everywhere. I remember two things the most from the book– that a black man walked Pt Reyes roads – (roads without shoulders) and that his mother called him out for riding an elevator (when he was in Chicago or New York to receive an award ??).
John Francis stopped riding in motorized vehicles after witnessing the environmental devastation of an oil spill in San Francisco Bay (2 tankers collided). So, he walked everywhere from 1972 until 1994 to not participate in using oil. For almost that long he didn’t speak. (To better listen to and stop arguing with people.) In that time, he earned a BA, a Masters and finally a Ph.D. in land management. (He did write, gesture and play the banjo to communicate.)
He walked extensively, crossing the United States and South America, often for his education or his environmental career. In crossing from Venezuela to Brazil, he finally got on a bus. His environmental mission was more important than that he personally walk everywhere.
#2 John Muir
John Muir seriously walked around. We owe some of our open space to his ability to hike California. (Think Yosemite.) Where he walked, many today would rightly call hikes. But for him it was just walking to get somewhere.
#3-11 Romantic Poets
Wordsworth, Keats, Blake, Coleridge etc. walked around a lot. They thought nothing of walking over to someone’s place to share a few rhymes. Not that they had many transportation choices.
Walking is very big in England. I think you can still call it ‘walking’ even though the individual trips are long. I easily find bloggers and tweeters in England who are all about ‘walking’ while in the U.S. everyone’s a hiker. Because America is a bigger country? Has higher mountains? We’re more competitive, even in conquering hiking trails?
#4-5 Walt Whitman / Henry David Thoreau
In defense of American poets/writers/walkers, I’m pretty sure Whitman walked around a lot. Again, not much choice.
Thoreau may have roughed it at Walden Pond, but he walked home for dinner.
#6-11 Poor People
Okay, this would be many more people, but I’m trying to keep this concise. When I was young with my first job, I walked to work on payday when I couldn’t afford the 35¢ for the streetcar fare. Sometimes I had to walk home the day before payday for lack of money. When you see people walking the roads, they’re not making a statement like John Francis, they’re too poor to pay for the bus, have a car or a bike. In a city, maybe you don’t even notice them – everybody’s walking and the sidewalks are packed.
Poor people walk because they have to – but it may make more sense than driving miles to walk for exercise. Okay, that’s what I do – I prefer walking in places that are beautiful. So far, I have a car that can take me there.
#12 Bill Bryson
Bill Bryson may be more of a hiker, but he writes so well I have to include him here. I even forgive him for sucking all the romance out of the Appalachian Trail (A Walk in the Woods). I followed a blogger who hiked the AT from March to September last year. She did it, but it took its toll. She tried heading out again on another challenge, but she simply couldn’t do it.
#13-23 Senior Walkabouters
I found Senior Walkabouters via Meetup.com. I walk with one of the groups that heads out every Monday morning along Santa Rosa Creek. Walking with them for over a year, I’ve gotten to know some of them well – generous people who take care of each other, coo over new grandbaby pictures or pitch in on a birthday lunch.
Senior Walkabouters has grown to over 580 walkers with one or two walks or events almost every day. Some of the walks are fast-paced and energetic. Monday morning is relaxed and short. (Suits me best.)
#24-99 Walkers who have joined one of my walks
I have been leading walks for the Sonoma County Family YMCA for almost three years now. There is a core of regular walkers, but I have had some join me for a while and some just once or twice. I always appreciate that they show up, join in and participate with the group.
Now that I have a group who join me for twice a week short walks, I am amazed at the older people who are willing to try new activities. They are always ready to go.
#100 My husband
My husband started regularly walking before it became the activity we did together. With his photographs and my words we developed this blog. For me there’s nothing better than having this person to discover and explore the world with. (He’s often my editor and would have made a better sentence of this.) Along the way we have learned the common names of lots of wildflowers and trees – but mostly we have had the beauty of nature and each others company to reward us. Guess he should be #1.
Thanks honey and all the others who walk for fun and necessity.
Words by Lynn Millar
Who is your favorite walker?
Amendment: Aristotle should be on this list. Visit article Walking Where Aristotle walked.