The other day I was perusing the aisles of my local library and came across:
1001 WALKS YOU MUST TAKE BEFORE YOU DIE
1001 walks? Before you die? Is that possible? What are the chances you may shorten your life attempting such a feat?
The book brought back that sinking feeling, wandering through the stacks of the downtown library as a teenager. I even had a crazy notion of trying to combine the walking list with the 100 Most Essential Novels. Could I read Thomas Pynchon’s Gravity’s Rainbow on my hike to Machu Picchu? Could I traverse the original route of Ulysses while reading James Joyce’s opus? How would it end? Where would I start? Would it be best to shorten the walking list to a manageable level? Could I even accomplish a tenth of the list? Certainly any hike over a thousand miles was a non-starter. So scratch:
- NEZ PERCE NATIONAL TRAIL – 1170 Miles
- APPALACHIAN TRAIL – 2160 Miles
- IRON CURTAIN TRAIL – 4750 Miles
Then there is the Trans-Canada Trail at a whopping 14,000 miles. Who walked this trail? Did someone set out one day, get lost and reappear three years later with a beard like Moses and a firm resolve to never set foot in Canada again? There is no way one single person accomplished this whole list. So who wrote the book? I scrolled for the contributors and found ten people. One of them had this shocking revelation:
Simon Adams is a historian and writer living and working in London. A lazy walker who should get out more, he enjoyed dreaming of the great outdoors when writing entries for this book.
How does a writer not even follow his own advice? Should the title be amended to:
1001 HIKES YOU SHOULD AVOID FROM THE
COMFORTS OF YOUR CHELSEA FLAT
I turned to the shortest hike on this list to see if my trip to the mailbox was included. It was not. But clocking in at 295 feet in Florence, Italy, is The Ponte Vecchio, a medieval bridge spanning the Arno River.
By chance I had been to Florence and crossed the Ponte Vecchio, completely unaware I was in the middle of an essential hike. So one hike down…
Still overwhelmed, I made the decision to leave it up to the gods. I fanned my thumb through the pages and stopped on an eleven mile hike from Delphi to the Corycian Cave in the Parnassos Mountains in northern Greece.
I find it ironic that my first random hike would start in a place where those in Greek Mythology went to seek help in making a big decision. Maybe I could ask The Oracle if it’s a fool’s errand to contemplate a tenth of 1001 hikes. Maybe I could bypass Greece altogether, head to Florence and run back and forth on the Ponte Vecchio 99 more times. É finito!
Offering your brain 1001 options when it can only spin seven plates isn’t even fair. In her 2004 study Professor Sheena Iyenger of Columbia University found that participation levels in a 401K fell when more options were provided. (Begley, 2011)
Out of 59 mutual funds how would you even know which is the best? You wouldn’t. You wouldn’t even attempt to figure it out. You would only be thinking about one thing: What to eat for dinner…