The word “pedestrian” describes a person walking, but it also means “prosaic, plain, commonplace or uninspired,” and for centuries that has cast a negative light on walkers everywhere. From the Latin pedester (on foot), the word once caused much derision (a foot soldier paled in comparison to a cavalry man, for example), meaning not to be on a horse or mobile in any way other than by foot, was to be utterly unremarkable.
The idea of walking through the countryside for pleasure developed in the 18th-century, and arose because of changing attitudes to the landscape and nature, associated with the Romantic Era. Before this time period, walking generally indicated poverty or vagrancy — and was, well, pedestrian. The Romantic Era launched an appreciation of the outdoors, and a slow, leisurely, up-close method of viewing it.
We called this pastime hiking, which in North America is the preferred term for a long, vigorous walk in the countryside. The word hiking is also sometimes used in the United Kingdom, along with rambling, hillwalking, and fell walking. In New Zealand a long, vigorous walk or hike is called tramping, while Australians often call it bushwhacking.
Whatever the term, mass mechanized transportation began to erode what the Romantic Era spawned, and greatly curtailed the love of walking and hiking, especially in the United States — which is a shame because the U.S. has more state and national parks (and open space in general), than any other country.
Statistics show that these days Americans prefer not to walk much. Experts recommend that a healthy human take around 10,000 steps per day (that’s the equivalent of about 5 miles). The average American takes about 5,100 steps a day, an embarrassing total when compared to Australians (9,695), Swiss (9,650) and Japanese (7,200). A rural South African woman takes an average of 10,594 steps a day (many while carrying a load), and an Amish man takes about 18,425 steps, making everyone else on the planet look downright sedentary.
There are still plenty of folks who love to hike. For them, there’s a simplicity in walking into the woods to commune with your surroundings. With no distractions or modern conveniences, you can learn a lot about yourself on a hike.
The Central Coast of California is a hiker’s dreamland. From the gorgeous coastline along Highway 1 to Big Sur, to the protected lands of Point Lobos, inland to Carmel Valley’s Garland Ranch Regional Park, hikers can find a range of views, topographies and wildlife.
After the sheer beauty, what makes hiking in these parts so appealing is the weather; dry summers, sunny and warm fall harvest months, a fresh, mild spring that produces verdant hills replete with wildflowers, and temperate, green winters. It creates a long season for those who want to explore.
With 400 acres, Holman Ranch in Carmel Valley specializes in multi-day retreats and single-day off-site events that feature unique event spaces and amazing activities, including hiking on property, where you’ll encounter vineyards, agriculture, mountains, olive groves, horses, flora, fauna, and so much more.
Nothing pedestrian about that.