Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Walking solo vs social

Five Mile Beach, Wilson's Prom
"No good thing is pleasant to possess, without friends to share it." Seneca - Letters from a Stoic.

My walking over the past few years has mostly been solo and I have to say that it is a mode that I relish.

There are some sublime, top-of-the-Maslow-hierarchy benefits that can only come from extended solitude in remote places: meditative walking ... the sense of connectedness to the natural world ... being lost in your own thoughts without interruption ("cortex interruptus") ... the simple feeling of being alone - even lonely - are all things to be savoured on the solo trail.

There are also other more practical advantages.  Like being able to stop, move, eat and sleep whenever you choose.  Or being exempt from behaviours not particularly acceptable around your fellow humans (insert your favourite anti-social body function here).

When you walk alone the tempo of the march is yours to make - the rhythm of "the dance' is set by you.

For all the joys and benefits of solitude I have nevertheless found myself with others a lot of late.  It started innocently enough - A casual search brought me to a hiking group online.  I saw that they were doing an interesting day walk that weekend and - in a (probably wine-fuelled) moment of social enthusiasm - I clicked the "RSVP Yes" button.

I joined the small group for a walk in the Mt Cole State Forest and had a thoroughly good time - enjoying both the walk and the company.    It was great to be able to share the experiences of the track with the others.  Like me, they were on the walk to connect with nature, to take time out from the work-a-day world and to give their bodies a good workout.  That our demographics and dispositions were different only added to the enjoyment of a shared passion.

Hard Core Hikers at Bivouac Hut, Mt Bogong
I wanted to try some more of this social style walking, so I decided to start my own hiking group, where I can continue to do the sort of off-trail, multi-day walks I love, but to add the social element to the experience.   I named the group the Melbourne Hardcore Hikers and sent a shout-out to like-minded souls to join me in my back country adventures (and mis-adventures).

The group has now been operating since June this year.   There's currently 215 members, with around 30 people who've come on at least one of the hikes.  It has been fantastic finding so many people who like me, just love getting out into the wilderness areas.

The only downside to all of this is that organising the group hikes is very time consuming!  One consequence is that I haven't had much time for blogging.  Hopefully I can catch up with this over the xmas break (Oh, hang on - I'll be hiking for much of it!)

If you're interested in coming along on one of my hikes, feel free to join the Hardcore Hikers Group.

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