Walking Home

reveries of an amateur long-distance hiker

About Walking Home

August 19th, 2015



“Walking Home” initially calls up directionality and even purposiveness–a space must be traversed in order to arrive, ostensibly at a living place or some state of mind. But walking can also be a home; one can be at home while walking. Long-distance hikers always find themselves wavering between those two states–transition and immediacy. I grew up in the mountains of Virginia, spending most of my childhood outside, and a lot of it in the woods. I did camp a good bit over the years and made several week-long trips, but did not start long-distance until 2011 when my son Bennett and I hiked the first 500 miles of the Appalachian Trail. Over the next two summers we completed all 2165 miles, summiting Katadhin August 12, 2013. I’ve also had the chance for some short treks in the Italian Dolomites, and Croatia, in 2014 I hiked the English Pennine Way, in 2015 New Zealand’s Te Araroa, and in 2016 the Annapurna and Helambu Circuits in Nepal, climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro in Tanzania, walked the Camino Santiago (Camino Frances), the Trans-Swiss Trail, and Iceland’s Laugavegur Trek. In 2018 I spent two months wandering Patagonia, in 2020 I walked the Tasmanian Port Davey, South Coast, and Overland Tracks, and in post-pandemic 2021 the Benton Mackaye Trail, followed by the Scottish National Trail and the English Ridgeway in 2022. This blog is an attempt to document these walks. Having read many of the classic books by great walkers and taught classes at Georgia Tech on the literature of walking, I puzzle about how to articulate a walk and hope to experiment with form a bit here. Let me also emphasize that, in addition to being an amateur hiker, I’m an even more amateur biologist, geologist, and botanist. The advantage of writing in the field without resources (books are too heavy for ultralight, and there are minimal opportunities to check something through the Internet) is that these will be speculative articulations of what I am seeing and of course will be replete with mistakes. So, it’s a blog by an amateur hiker and a speculative naturalist. hugh.crawford@lmc.gatech.edu