“People ought to saunter in the mountains – not hike! Do you know the origin of that word ‘saunter?’ It’s a beautiful word. Away back in the Middle Ages people used to go on pilgrimages to the Holy Land, and when people in the villages through which they passed asked where they were going, they would reply, “A la sainte terre,’ ‘To the Holy Land.’ And so they became known as sainte-terre-ers or saunterers. Now these mountains are our Holy Land, and we ought to saunter through them reverently, not ‘hike’ through them.”
– John Muir, as quoted in Albert Palmer’s 1911 book The Mountain Trail and Its Message
Hey, all, remember me? I took a break from regular blogging last month while I juggled a few dozen other things, both professional and personal.
On the book front, my developmental (the big picture) book edits are almost done, and were pretty painless. My editor did a fantastic job of picking out the places where I contradicted, or didn’t explain, or made a joke that went a little too far, and we’ve got a manuscript I’m excited to share with you…eventually. My official release date has been set for October 2018. Between now and then, I’ll work with the team at Mountaineers Books on a title, cover design, interior art (original maps! photos!), copy editing and proofreading, and marketing. There’s a lot of steps to making and distributing a great book. I’ll keep you posted.
In the meantime, I’m thinking about what it means to “saunter reverently” instead of hiking. To linger in holy places, like this chapel in Rochgude just outside Le Puy. (I’ve told the story of my Moment on a Mountaintop before.) To measure a day not by distance, but by experience.
This writing process is fun, but I’m itching to go sauntering again.
Anyone else know that feeling?
2 thoughts on “To Saunter in the Mountains”
Monday I returned from my first pilgrimage, the Camino Frances from St. John Pied de Port to Santiago. My heart and mind are flooded with memories and emotions, faces, dawns, the marvelous way my body thrived on each day’s walking. The group I used to hike with chooses beautiful, steep trails with stream crossings but I cannot join them because I can’t keep a 2.5-3 mph pace for 12 miles now at age 70. Maybe this is a call to saunter and walk more like I did on pilgrimage–listening to my own body and spirit. Thank you for the shown Muir quote about sauntering. Tomorrow I saunter
Welcome home, Bette! And thanks for sharing. May we all, at every age, be sainte-terre-ers.