Sunday, June 10, 2012

Reason No. 15 to hike: Need for simplicity

We live in a technological world, one terraformed to meet our needs and our desires for ease. Despite the comforts and longevity of life that such a world has brought, we also pay a price for it: there’s information overload via books, video, Internet; we have lost our sense of place thanks to the ability to move great distances in short times; we bulldoze, pave and manicure fields and woods for our homes and schools and places of work.

Yet, as Colin Fletcher, author of “The Complete Walker” book series, wrote, “For the human spirit needs places where nature has not been rearranged by the hand of man.” A yin and ying sort of need, a longing for simplicity, exists among us.

For Americans, this need isn’t just about being human but also part of our culture. As environmentalist Joseph L. Sax noted, “There is something about the idea of an encounter with nature that has a powerful hold on the American imagination – an idea of independence, of self-reliance, self-sufficiency and autonomy. These are ideas that lie very close to the heart of the cultural values we prize most, and that seem to be most threatened by the style of modern, urban, industrial society.”

So escape from technology for a little while today or this weekend. Head out into the wilds with your children on a day hike.

Read more about day hiking with children in my guidebook Hikes with Tykes.