Why Not Walk? by Philip Hyde

April 9th, 2010 by David Leland Hyde Leave a reply »

From THE CHRISTIAN SCIENCE MONITOR Thursday, August 21, 1958 by Philip Hyde

(The original article appeared on the front page of the second section and incorporated five large black and white photographs by Philip Hyde)

Grass On Tarn, Sierra Nevada High Country, Kings Canyon National Park, California, 1951 by Philip Hyde. This was one of the photographs with the original Christian Science Monitor article, "Why Not Walk?" by Philip Hyde.

(To see photographs full screen Click Here.)

Next time you visit one of our national parks, why not try walking? If this proposal seems startling to you in this mechanized age, you might consider some of the qualities that make up the natural scene that is observed in our system of national parks.

One of the most rewarding aspects of nature is the exquisite beauty found in minutiae: the patterns of snow-flakes, the form of a tiny butterfly, or the interlaced perfection of leaf forms. None of these are easily observed from a moving automobile, yet most visitors to our nature preserves depend primarily on wheeled locomotion to “see” the parks.

You can look at the grand landscapes in the parks through the windshield. But to really see them you must get out of the car, at least enough to look at the foreground.

No mountain is so grand that knowing its foreground of small stones, tiny plants, and even the animals that inhabit it does not enhance its grandeur. For the natural world is not a miscellaneous collection of unrelated pieces, but a unified, harmonious whole, interacting and inter-dependent.

What is your favorite place to walk?

Do you walk when you go to national parks?



  1. Mark says:

    Your father’s advice here resembles what many instructors try to tell beginning divers who visit a reef. The slower you go, the more you will see. The same applies above and beneath the water’s surface.

    Wonderful image, and a fitting example of the many overlooked details that are lost by going too fast.

  2. Hi Mark. Thank you for your addition here. I have been enjoying your blog and the sensitivity and skill you bring to photography of the natural world. In this and your comment above, I recognize a kindred spirit to my father in the way you see nature. He would have enjoyed meeting you and I am fortunate to make your acquaintance in his place.

  3. My favorite place to walk is the Big Bend region. It’s one of the few places left anymore where you can really get *alone* and away from the norm.

    In the Big Bend region specifically, it used to be Big Bend National Park, but lately it has become too crowded for my tastes and I have migrated a bit further west to the Big Bend Ranch State Park. 300,000 acres of ground to cover, and in the few times I’ve been there, I’ve yet to run into someone else off the main road in/out of the park.

    I plan to spend a bit of time there exploring before it gets too crowded as well.

  4. Hi Derrick, That state park sounds interesting. You are lucky. In your part of West Texas it is so much less crowded than anywhere in California for example. However, it is still disappointing to see even the remotest places get more and more traffic and change so much over time. I have seen that everywhere I’ve been in the West. Particularly when I revisit places I recall from my childhood. As much as the general population seems to be oblivious to the natural world, it appears more and more people are appreciating it, perhaps in some places appreciating nature to death. Be careful about spreading the word on your favorite state park there.

  5. Richard Wong says:

    I’m usually more enamored with the lesser known national monuments and state parks than the national parks out west because are less commercialized. With that said, I think I had mentioned that the whole area around Mt. Tam is my favorite place to just be out there.

  6. Hi Richard, that’s right. I am going to check out that trail you recommended on Mt. Tam. I have never hiked on Mt. Tamalpais even though it was my father’s favorite place growing up until he discovered the Yosemite High Country. I guess it’s a little strange for me having grown up in the remote Sierra to go to Marin County to hike a mountain. However, I have heard how beautiful it is from a number of people.

  7. Derrick says:

    It is a double edged sword for sure.

    On one hand, we (I) want to share what I have learned and seen with others so that they too can experience the wonder and grandeur that can be found in the outdoors.

    But on the other, I like the quiet.

  8. Derrick, thank you for bringing this up. My dad and other naturalists, famous photographers and writers have done some writing about this dilemma. My dad I believe the most, but also Wallace Stegner, Martin Litton and Edward Abbey. David Brower had his mind made up that it is best to share the wilderness with people and gain as many supporters and advocates for wild lands as possible. Though my dad saw it both ways, ultimately he shared David Brower’s view. I will have to share some about this some time in a future blog post if I can dig up the writings.

  9. Richard says:

    Winter is the best time to go in my opinion because it is so lush up there. It is bone dry by summer though interesting if you get a foggy day.

  10. Thank you, Richard. I will have to see if I can go perhaps this Spring or in the winter.