For this 40th blog post on the topic of self-isolation, I’d like to speak about local adventures. I feel the need to do this because I see people posting about their trips to someone two to three hours from live and work during a pandemic and I strongly believe that getting into a car to have an adventure far from home at this time is short-sighted and selfish.
Between running, cycling and hiking I have got to know more and more of the local routes. I have found that there are a lot of nice places to walk off of agricultural roads where you can avoid everyone. Today I was walking in the woods by a motorway and I found what I call the “corkscrew tree”.
Today during my hike I ranged further than usual. I went beyond my usual deflection and return point and kept on going and the reward for this was to see scenes and landscapes that I associate with thru-hiking imagery. i’m not thru-hiking. I am going around in circles and exploring every last trail and path, whether in the forests, along agricultural roads or the walkable space between fields. In some cases this includes fallow fields.
We don’t need to drive for hours to see nice landscapes and to feel that we are visiting a new place. We just need to look around and see a path we haven’t been down, and proceed along it. The landscape above could easily be taken by a thru-hiker, but it’s in Switzerland, just minutes from villages and towns.
The pandemic is an opportunity to go back to the child-like habit of exploring every nook and cranny. By doing so we protect the environment by not using a car or public transport to get anywhere, and we get to find plenty of local gems.
While driving to and from Geneva I often pass by this field and see these cows. Today my walking route took me by the cows and they were close enough for me to take a picture or three. This is local, and yet it feels like I’m travelling to Scotland or the US.
One of my habits, when living in London or visiting big cities is to walk for hours, until I get exhausted, and to return by public transport. I’m applying the same habit to explore the local countryside. I had already explored plenty of the local roads before, but because of the pandemic, I am being encouraged to explore ever more meticulously. By the end of the pandemic, I could write a guidebook about hyperlocal walks.
Aside from coming across cows with very long horns being suckled by calves in a field bordering with France and a corkscrew tree on a trail in the woods I also saw what I think are baby or juvenile apples just starting to grow. As I walk some parts of the routes so many times in a row I see them sowing the seeds, fertilizing, spraying with insecticide and harvesting. I also see how the crops change over time. Today’s reward were juvenile apples.
My message is simple. During the pandemic, to avoid giving the virus an opportunity to leap between cantons, or from town to town, grab the opportunity to explore locally. You will be rewarded.