Walking is a noble but neglected sport. Americans “hike” once in a long while but seldom walk. And hiking easily becomes hitch-hiking. The automobile, organized athletics, and the fact that American cities and American suburbs are dismal places to walk in have caused American feet to abandon the roads. For every climber in an American national park–some of which are quite as beautiful as any Alps–there are ten “hikers,” fifty who “pack” on horses, and ten thousand who survey the wonders of nature from the windows of a sedan.
Walking in this country is a lost cause, yet walking is one of the habits I should wish my son to acquire. No other exercise, if indulged in several days at a time in pleasant, moderately wild country, has greater power to remake a man, to iron out his creases, to produce deep health and spiritual calm. The first steps in this elementary course had best be taken in Europe, where the natives do not look upon people with heavy shoes and knapsacks as slightly cracked.