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Amazing book of “Trail Quotes” to feed your walking love

September 7, 2016


While I miss the satisfaction of stumbling upon a wonderful, previously-unknown-to-me book in an in-the-flesh book store, the internet allows for serendipity as well; a recent tumble down some kind of research rabbit hole led me to an absolute gem of a PDF book titled Trail Quotes : from Advocacy to Wilderness, a mind-boggling (232 pages) collection of wild, wise words (over 1,000 “trail-related” quotes) collected over many years by Jim Schmid, State Trails Coordinator, South Carolina Department of Parks, Recreation and Tourism, and offered to the public in 2001.


Some of the 48 categories Schmid includes . . . Advocacy, Humor, Long Distance Trails, Native American, Outdoor Ethics, Rivers, Safety, Songs, Walkable Communities . . . all the way through the alphabet to Wilderness.

I have had, and continue to have, such fun electronically flipping my way through the pages and getting inspired by so many different aspects of being outside on the trail.

Here’s a teeny sampling of words from the 18th-20th centuries from the 14-page section “Walking”: (interspersed with photos of recent adventures on the trails near Irvine Park outside my hometown of Orange, CA)


I have two doctors, my left leg and my right. When body and mind are out of gear (and those twin parts of me live at such close quarters that the one always catches melancholy from the other) I know that I shall have only to call in my doctors and I shall be well again. —GEORGE MACAULAY TREVELYAN, Walking, essay in The Art of Walking, edited by Edwin Valentine Mitchell, 1934

Never did I think so much, exist so much, be myself so much as in the journeys I have made alone and on foot. Walking has something about it which animates and enlivens my ideas. I can hardly think while I am still; my body must be in motion to move my mind. —JEAN-JACQUES ROUSSEAU, French philosopher & writer, 1712–78

The art of walking is obsolete. It is true that a few still cling to that mode of locomotion, are still admired as fossil specimens of an extinct race of pedestrians, but for the majority of civilized humanity, walking is on its last legs. —SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN, January 9, 1869


Walking may have been considered on its “last legs” in 1869, but in 2016 I find crawling a reasonable alternative (or just a good way to get the whole being warmed up before a run).

I find that the three truly great times for thinking thoughts are when I am standing in the shower, sitting on the john, or walking. And the greatest of these, by far, is walking. —COLIN FLETCHER, The New Complete Walker, 1974 

It is great art to saunter. —HENRY DAVID THOREAU, American writer and naturalist, 1817–62


There are some good things to say about walking. Not many, but some. Walking takes longer, for example, than any other known form of locomotion except crawling. Thus it stretches time and prolongs life. Life is already too short to waste on speed. I have a friend who’s always in a hurry; he never gets anywhere. Walking makes the world much bigger and therefore more interesting. You have time to observe the details. The utopian technologists foresee a future for us in which distance is annihilated and anyone can transport himself anywhere, instantly. Big deal, Buckminster. To be everywhere at once is to be nowhere forever, if you ask me. That’s God’s job, not ours. The longest journey begins with a single step, not with a turn of the ignition key. That’s the best thing about walking, the journey itself. It doesn’t matter whether you get where you’re going or not. You’ll get there anyway. Every good hike brings you eventually back home. Right where you started. Which reminds me of circles. Which reminds me of wheels. Which reminds me my old truck needs another front-end job. Any good mechanics out there wandering through the smog? —EDWARD ABBEY, American environmental advocate, 1927–89


Trails bordered by barbed wire: what would Ed Abbey think of this?

Walking is the exercise that needs no gym. It is the prescription without medicine, the weight control without diet, the cosmetic that is sold in no drugstore. It is the tranquilizer without a pill, the therapy without a psychoanalyst, the fountain of youth that is no legend. A walk is the vacation that does not cost a cent. —AARON SUSSMAN and RUTH GOODE, The Magic of Walking, 1967

It’s about as nice a thing as anybody can do—walking, and it’s cheap, too! —EMMA ‘GRANDMA’ GATEWOOD, at age 67 first woman to thru-hike the Appalachian Trail (1955), 1887–1973


Doing my lunges so I can stay strong and maybe thru-hike like “Grandma Gatewood” when I’m 67. 

Happy Trails! (Preferably barefoot . . .)

8 Comments leave one →
  1. February 27, 2018 2:49 pm

    Amazing book of “Trail Quotes” to feed your walking love
    SEPTEMBER 7, 2016
    I just found your post while down my own research rabbit hole. Glad you liked the Trail Quote book I put together back in 2001. I’m retired now and maintain a website
    I probably have 5 times as many quotes now. I also do a trails quote of the day blog along with other trails stuff.

    Keep up the barefooting


    Jim Schmid

    • February 27, 2018 8:06 pm

      Thanks for sending the note, Jim–I’m honored to have a visit from you on my blog, and I can’t imagine how many “research rabbit holes” you’ve been down in search of all those great quotes you’ve compiled . . . you’ve got all my admiration! I’m looking forward to checking out your website/blog/trails info . . . thanks for including the link. Happy (Quotable) Trails! Thea

  2. laura morgan permalink
    September 11, 2016 1:03 pm

    ‘It is great art to saunter’ – love that!

  3. Gina permalink
    September 8, 2016 9:12 am

    Thea, the first quote you listed was exactly my experience last night after work. I walked in Aliso Woods for 2 1/2 hours straight because of doctors’ orders. It is so good you are still posting with your “more full” schedulel.

    On other matters, my heel is healing slowly, finally, with daily taping and crocs and Zero rise, wide-tow Altras. I got at a steal of a deal for not wanting to buy any more shoes (I can see you cringing with every muscle over there! Mercy!). I had landed the wrong way on the concrete at Firestorm that first night. After reading enough online descriptions, it became clear my right heel was damaged a la Fat Pad Syndrome. This after months of denial and a constant nagging bruised feeling with every other step.

    My barefoot adventures are sadly on hiatus. Bleh. Well, one can live vicariously!

    • September 8, 2016 8:42 pm

      Oh no, Gina . . . so sorry to hear about your heel damage. That parkour stuff is ruff on the body; I think I cracked a few ribs during our second class, trying to get up and over the million-foot wall 🙂

      Best wishes for a speedy recovery . . . as long as you can walk–and Aliso Woods has some great trails–keep moving! (As far as Altras go . . . a couple of family members have worn them and also liked them for all the toe roominess.) Cheers, Thea

      PS: My “more-fully more full” schedule is interfering with my Grand Canyon visits for now. Oh well. I’ll just keep enjoying our local trails . . . lots of fluffy dust right now!

      • Gina permalink
        September 16, 2016 7:39 am

        Fluffy dust sounds so champagne. I hope you can fit some trips in to G.C. over the coming breaks! Thanks for the well wishes too.

      • September 17, 2016 9:15 am

        That’s right . . . “champagne dust” . . . I’d already forgotten about your lovely turn of phrase. Thanks for the reminder 🙂

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