A scenic image of the landscape near Sonora Pass on the PCT.

Why We Wander

Sitting in front of a blue light generating computer for eight hours a day is not how we were meant to be. Sitting in traffic watching the turn signal of the car ahead stay on for twenty blocks. The smell of diesel exhaust mixing with cooling coffee while we slowly inch through the concrete maze of paths that take us to our tasks. Tighten the tie, loosen the tie. Sit. Wait.

On a good day our mind can drift past the taillights, past the road signs, and into the world we are meant to be. The squeal of past-prime breaks disappear. Replaced in our mind by the chirp of a bird high among the trees. The wind blast of a semi speeding past is replaced by the gentle breeze and the quake of the aspen leaves. Yes, on these lucky days our minds can take us to the places we were meant to be all along.

A glade of aspen trees in Colorado.

The romantic notion of exploration filled our history classes. Columbus, Lewis and Clark, Neil Armstrong. All saw something that they thought was seen for the first time. Adventure wasn’t a hashtag or t-shirt slogan when it meant packing everything in a wagon and heading into the great unknown. Yet, thousands did it. They risked it all for the freedom of the land or sea. For the chance to be away from the masses and alone on a journey. To explore, to find themselves and to start anew. The maps that they took with them were still incomplete. Just a few lines and a lot of space on a blank sheet of paper.

These days there are no blank spaces left on the maps. Not much is left to be discovered but that doesn’t slow down our desire to wander. The wandering mind that day dreams during the weeks needs to be fulfilled on the weekends. Those visions of valleys and mountains in the city become reality. The difference in today’s wandering is that the discovery isn’t external. Not new lands, lakes or places to homestead. Now the wander is internal. The discovery is more about
finding out what one can do than finding the new world. It is about opening up a new world within. The strength to let it all go and escape to a new world, even if for just a few moments, hours or days.

Fishing in an Alpine lake.

The desire to wander and explore is no less in a smaller world. In fact it could be even more. The deep breaths of clean wild air, the steps on soft dirt instead of concrete. The limits are only set by physical ability and not by a time card. The new feeling of wander is one of excitement. One of recharge. The urge to get further and farther away from the ties to our concrete world. This is how we choose to live. This is how we feel alive and this is why we wander.

Author Profile

Greg Sakowicz

Hi! My name is Greg Sakowicz, but I might be better known as the Fat Man. I started FatManLittleTrail.com a few years ago with the goal of inspiring other hefty hikers to get off the couch and make it to the trails! I only started hiking three years ago but have fallen in love with the mental and physical benefits of being in the woods. I have hiked over 1,600 miles and over 275,000 feet of elevation gain but there is one thing missing, backpacking! 

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