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Down the Road

By Milton M. Gross
Feb 2, 2014 - 12:33:05 AM

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Even when I'm not walking, I think of walking a lot. Not hiking, as up and over Saddleback or Old Speck, but walking as along a quiet path.

I'm reading a book now that's supposed to be about walking, but its actually a lot of stories humorous and not humorous about people who have walked.

Many years ago I read another book about walking, written by two doctors. That book talked about the advantages, health and emotional, of walking. I wrote an article about walking, based on that book, for which I was paid several hundred dollars. (Never saw the article in print.)

I have met hikers on the Appalachian Trail, their feet encased in heavy looking boots that I think would leave me exhausted should I try a step or two while wearing them. That's hiking. I mean walking, where you can wear basically any comfortable shoe and where you may be walking a mile or seven or eight -- but not over 2,000 miles as an AT hike involves.

It's true that I have fond memories of the high trails, ridge tops with great views and high winds, steep uphills among boulders, or alongside a mountain pond. But I have even more memories of walks.

Hikes are tiring. Many walks -- not all -- are restful.

When I was receiving therapy to get rid of prostate cancer, which, by the way worked but brought down on my head much criticism when I wrote that it worked, the therapist had me lie back, close my eyes, and visualize a pleasant scene. That scene was along a path by a brook in the southern part of Acadia National Park. I think about that path a lot, and when the bitter winter has turned into the warm summer, I think I shall visit the path again.

I can remember more walks than hikes, including such walks as when I was a kid, my mother made my father go with us around our town on a Sunday afternoon walk, a long walk across Manchester, NH while I was there in the Air Force Reserves, walks along grassy paths at the foot of mountain hikes, and a walk around Eagle Lake one day when I wore the soles loose from a pair of old leather street shoes.

The book I'm currently reading tells tales of those who walked. It's not actually about to walk and why. It's even got some humor tucked in as I approach the end.

As a kid, I walked our large shepherd-collie a lot around several nearby neighborhoods and through a fairly large woods near our house. Often during those walks, I dreamed of hiking in Maine as we sometimes had done during our summer vacations in Belgrade. But, looking back, its the walks around my home town I recall more often than the longer Maine mountain hikes.

Also, as a kid, I would walk through Pennsylvania's Great Valley to Valley Forge State Park, which it was then, not yet having become a national park. I saw deer, pheasants, farms, and other rural scenic non-wonders. Those walks bring back memories as pleasant as the hikes up Katahdin and Bigelow. Only the walks were not as dramatic as the hikes, just more relaxing.

Once when we were renting a camp in Livermore, I walked about ten miles on Sunday afternoon. I wore out a pair of moccasins, since I hadn't been planning to walk far when I left the camp.

A perfect walk for me is along a pleasant path through the woods or along a dirt roadway through a field. For the Maine Appalachian Trail Club, I on our iMac help keep track of groups using shelters along the Appalachian Trail in Maine. Glad I can help.

But when I need a break from Mr. iMac, I go for a walk, usually down our road to a bridge that crosses a brook on in a dirt road to a boat landing on the lake.

I have a pair of walking shoes and a pair of hiking shoes. I no longer wear hiking boots, as I find the hiking shoes to be lighter, more comfortable, and do just as well at gripping sloping rock surfaces as do boots. My lighter-and-more-comfortable-than-hiking-shoe walking shoes are my third in a number of years, having worn out the first two.

Which probably tells what I do more of, walking or hiking.

Of course, when I go out this afternoon to walk as far as the bird feeder that I will bring into the shed so tonight it won't be attacked by wandering beasts, I won't wear either. I'll be wearing my L.L. Bean leather-top, rubber bottom boots through the snow.

Can't wait for walking season to return.

Milt Gross can be reached for corrections, harassment, or other purposes at

Milton M. Gross Copyright 2013

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