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Jun 03rd
The Big Hike PDF Print E-mail
Written by Kim Ogren, BT Contributor   
April 2020

Daily movement is a precious benefit we take for granted

TPix_GoingGreen_4-20his is the third and final leg of a three-part story about my walk from Fort Lauderdale to South Pointe in Miami Beach. In February’s column I told you about my planning and motivations -- that I was compelled to move freely in space after a prolonged injury had kept me cooped up. In March I gave you a sense of the first half of my adventure, taking in all new sights from Fort Lauderdale to Bal Harbour.

Now comes the second day of my adventure, which started off in the luxurious pathways under the palms in Bal Harbour. Around 70th Street, I found things to be much more familiar, as I’ve often walked this stretch, all the way to South Beach.

In April 2019, a segment of the path was developed, connecting 53rd to 64th Streets. It is something the folks at the East Coast Greenway Alliance are happy about, as are us locals. Because this walk was familiar and I had less processing to do, I let my mind wander more.

I thought about my new favorite hashtag: #Life@3MPH, used by my new favorite group, Walk2Connect. It is a national network of walking leaders and walkers who, you guessed it, walk, near home, with others, for the social, mental, and physical benefits walking provides. I thought about how many different walks could be curated around our amazing communities.

Walk2Connect walks offer more than a tour, which usually include lots of standing around. Some leaders take folks on urban hikes of ten miles or more! My two-day adventure felt like the perfect urban hike staycation. So perfect that I am motivated to help start a Walk2Connect chapter in Miami-Dade.

There are pilgrimage walks, where the destination is the goal, such as Costa Rica’s Pilgrimage to Cartago from San José, when millions journey on a single day to the Basílica Nuestra Señora de los Ángeles. Maybe the most well-known pilgrimage route is along the Camino de Santiago, which allows for a variety of nearly monthlong walkways through Europe to the shrine of St. James in northwest Spain.

Camino chapters around the world, including in our area, host very popular gatherings and walks all year round.

I thought about the positive feedback I’ve gotten when I’ve programmed a walk during a conference. When it’s time to take a break, I like to keep people from getting distracted with their phones. I want them to process the discussions so far. So I set us out on a 20-minute informal walk and let the magic happen. Some people chat about the work, some talk about other things, and some don’t talk. Every time, though, folks come back refreshed and ready to engage, having had a chance to strengthen their camaraderie and let information settle for a bit. I think the walks give them the perspective they need to feel confident and comfortable to make decisions when they return home.

I recently saw an advertisement for a walking story at a county park in Pinellas County. You know how trails at nature centers have interpretive signs along the way? Now some parks are including stories that parents can read to children along the way. So clever!

I thought about the role walking plays in contributing to community resilience --how a safe, attractive walk to the closest bus or train station, often referred to as the last mile, is as critical as planning for the train or bus route itself. I think it should get a new name. After all, isn’t the last mile really our first step to increasing transit ridership?

If you think about it, walking is the most natural thing to do. As I’ve written, I’m compelled in spite of injury. Walking is just what makes us human. Until the 1920s, scientists figured it was the size of our brains. But it turns out, our bipedalism is the thing that distinguishes us from all other mammals.

There’s a wonderful documentary you might enjoy while practicing social isolation. The World Beneath Your Feet follows Matt Green on his quest to walk every street in New York City. I can also recommend a variety of books about walking. The accompanying photo contains just a few of my recommendations. I guess I’ll have to wait another year to walk the Kiso Road, as my friend and Miami native William Wilson wrote about.

No matter what, the fact that more and more of us understand and appreciate that walking is the best medicine means we can inspire others to join us. That is my hope for you. Perhaps no other time than this minute, assuming you can stay safe, get outside, get some fresh air, and just move. And I’ll look forward to planning more walks for movement, problem solving, contribution, and connection in the future.

 

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