My Íslendingasögur: Learning How To Walk

Dorset trail

My favourite exercise is the rowing I do in my 1989 Hudson scull, a beautiful 28 pound boat that just glides across the cool, bug-free lake. This year I am using it less and hiking more, preparing for roughly 15 kilometers of hiking per day in Iceland in August. It is not nearly as nice, with deerflies buzzing in my ears, wearing long pants and sleeves and a hat in the heat, since being eaten by mosquitoes is even less appealing.

But where the first 12.2 kilometer hike to town and back was tedious, the second and third were so much easier and seemed so much shorter as I got into the swing of things.

This morning I drove into Dorset and took the tower trail, up to the fire tower that overlooks the town and Lake of Bays. It’s not long at only 2.3 kilometers, but it is steep going up and rocky at points going down. It’s a totally different kind of workout. Every five minutes Runkeeper on my iPhone would chirp out “estimated pace 14 minutes 30 seconds per kilometer” which just seems so slow when I am used to running at 6 minutes per Km.

Dorset Tower

I was going to run up the tower and take a photo for you all, but It has always scared the crap out of me and my children were not there to goad me up to the mid-landing (I have only been to the top once, it terrified me) and I just decided after one flight of stairs that I don’t have to do this, and I turned around.

The boots now have close to 40 km on them; they never hurt or rubbed from the first second I put them on and I think are pretty broken in by now. Tomorrow I will do the trail with my backpack for the first time, albeit with very little weight in it.

Getting used to the slow pace of walking has been my biggest challenge. When I run I am usually listening to podcasts of the CBC’s Spark or Ideas; I have decided to walk in silence. I spend all my day wired to my computer, and can’t really remember when I last spent an hour just…..walking.

Solvitur Ambulando is usually translated as “It is solved by walking” and usually attributed to St. Augustine. I once did in a TreeHugger post and was corrected by Enrique, a philosophy student I met a few years ago, who wrote:

As for “solvitur ambulando”, the first one was a Greek philosopher called Diogenes, actually, long before Augustine. There was Zenon, his teacher, saying that movement was impossible (for sure you know the paradoxes of Zenon), and Diogenes got desperate listening to too much nonsense, so he woke up, started walking and said “it [all this long philosophical discussion] is solved by walking”.

After spending far too much time listening to too much nonsense on the computer, I am finding that indeed, much is solved by walking.

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