Several times a week I walk up and down the foothills our town of Woodland Hills perches on. Santaquin Peak and Tower Mountain rise above us to the southeast and east, Utah Valley stretches away to the north. I carry my cell phone in my back pocket in case I see something I want to photograph and while I walk the STRAVA app records my route.
Looking at several of the recordings, I’m a little abashed at the repetition that occurs over weeks and months and years. Can’t I find other places to walk?
Introducing our book Wild Riders & Wildflowers, Sam Rushforth and I explained our mostly repetitive routes this way:
Our intent was to ride a single portion of the Great Western Trail on the foothills of Mount Timpanogos again and again and again until we had seen its flora and fauna in every variation over the course of several years. We were looking for patterns, for meaning found only in repetition. We set out to catalogue our experiences with flora, fauna, weather, and geology, to see and hear and smell and taste everything along this trail so minutely, so sensitively, that our readers would be astonished. Unfortunately, we are aging men with tics and foibles that preclude much sensitivity. So we wrote about what we knew: fear of aging, male behavior patterns left over from junior high, anguish at the relentless “development” of wild lands in the West, and about what Thoreau described as “wild and noble sights…such as they who sit in parlors never dream of.”
Repetition was also the theme of the book Repetitions, co-written with Zarko Radakovic. Our trip from Austria across the border into what was then Yugoslavia repeated a trip by a character in Peter Handke’s novel Repetition and our separate reports on events during that trip converged and diverged in ways only possible through repetition.
So despite the STRAVA images that suggest a lack of walking imagination, I’m suggesting that while they look remarkably similar, each single walk was rich with discovery.
Take a look at these earlier posts about walks along this route and see if that isn’t true: