The joy of walking in the mountains

One of my abiding memories of childhood was walking. Living the way we did in suburban Zimbabwe walking was not a part of our daily routine. Rather it was a pleasurable leisure activity. Occasionally there would be walks around the Hillside dams (conveniently at the bottom of the road). Most weekends we would walk in the Matopos. An area filled with ‘whaleback’ granite kopjies. But my memories mostly come from holidays in various parts of the country. Walking in Nyanga with its pine forests and trout filled dams. And walking in Hwange with the promise of close encounters with game. Of course, now when I reminisce with my siblings we inevitably recall my dad’s ‘short cuts’.

I don’t remember enjoying walking much as a child, so it puzzles me slightly that I find so deeply fundamentally restorative now. A good five or six hour hike in the mountains is worth about three days of pottering around at home.

There is something about the gentle rhythm. The pace is markedly slower than the pace I usually walk. It has a semi-meditative quality.

There is something about seeing new vistas. As you climb up onto a ridge and see a new world open up before you, there is hope for new possibilities.

There is something about the quality of the companionship. I have yet to find a person who walks regularly on the mountains who I find difficult to be with on the mountains.

There is something about the physical fatigue. As someone who is paid for my brain, doing something which is entirely physical is quite delicious.

But still, the sum is greater than the parts. At the end of such a day I feel mentally, emotionally and spiritually revived.

I am truly grateful to be living in a part of world where mountains are so accessible.

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