East of Constantinople, West of Shanghai

Taking a hike



Owen J. Lattimore did it the old way in Turkestan.

A few posts back, I mentioned watching the sky as a probably normal practice of ancient travelers.
Travel in the ancient world (and not so ancient, now that I think about it) was done on foot.
Even if merchandise and goods traveled on the back of camels or horses, humans normally went on foot.
Walking is a way of going that’s close to the territory, it’s slow and tiresome.
It’s something else.

Now I was talking about health, and getting back in shape (or at least try to), a few days back, with my friend Claire, and she suggested Nordic Walking as a soft, pleasant activity.
I pointed out that here, among the savage hills of Astigianistan, finding people to go hiking together might be a problem – the standard leisure activity hereabouts is sitting in front of the bar, gossiping.

But then – back when I was in Turin, I was a walker.
Mind you, just rambling about without an aim or a purpose, without a destination, is very hard.
I need a reason for going from A to B.
And living in Turin I had plenty of reasons: moving through the city using the highly erratic public transport system meant being ever ready to hike it.
So I walked a lot – from home to school, from university to the libraries and bookstores of the center of town, from one side of the city to the other.
I never did less than an average four miles a day, six days a week.
And it was fine.
Good for my health, and it gave me plenty of time for thinking.

So I said to myself – maybe not Nordic walking, but what about plain vanilla walking?
After all, my leg is back in order and my knee is not giving me all that trouble anymore.
And walking is certainly the cheapest, simplest way to get back in shape.
And autumn is fine, for walking in the hills of southern Piedmont.

What finally decided me was talking briefly with my friend Lucy, that’s planning a long cycling adventure along a coastal road.
Her idea caused me a pang of envy.
It’s time to get back on the road.
And in a way, this is in line with the topics of this blog – travel, adventure, ancient (or plain old, dusty and lonesome) back roads.

I dug out a few walking and hiking handbooks I had from the days of yore, to set down a few plans and check out the details (like causing stress on an untrained, damaged leg), and I’m trying to find my old pedometer.
Then I’ll have to dig in the wardrobe and find suitable clothes.
Let’s give the guys sitting in front of the bar something to gossip about.

Author: Davide Mana

Paleontologist. By day, researcher, teacher and ecological statistics guru. By night, pulp fantasy author-publisher, translator and blogger. In the spare time, Orientalist Anonymous, guerilla cook.

3 thoughts on “Taking a hike

  1. You do know, don’t you, that those funny sticks you use when doing NW take a lot of stress off legs, whether damaged or fit? 😉

    That said, yes – I can sympathyse with the Aimlessly Wandering feeling. I can walk indefinitely in a town, provided I have somewhere to go. To do it for sport, with or without sticks, requires some concentrated effort, and either good company or good music – but it’s worth it.


    • No music, here – too many hazards on the roads, with trucks and cars running like crazy along narrow lanes.
      Better to just walk talking to oneself – for the delight of the local gossips.


  2. Give theme something to talking about, this will improves your karma 😉


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