By Hannah, 07 October 2006
Oxymoron tramping – From Switzerland with Love
Proposal: “An exhausting tramp is the most revitalising form of a vacation.”
My definition of a successful holiday is such that, once I have returned to daily life, I feel refreshed and have a huge grin on my face. In this brief essay I shall outline why lying on some sunny, white beach or participating in a classic road trip do not satisfy either of the two conditions. Subsequently, I will proceed to explain why an annihilating tramp is a far superior means to the intended end. Well then:
Firstly, what should be the holiday of choice to accomplish a sense of refreshment? We are all familiar with the fact that the scenery constitutes an integral part of a nice hike. Awesome landscapes as far as the eye can see and a stunning geography, which was previously known to us only through consulting the map, are certainly desirable aspects of any trip.
Nonetheless, this is a necessary but not sufficient prerequisite. Roasting in the sun on a lonely island in the Maldives makes you drowsy. The constant consumption of toxics such as Pina Coladas (alcohol) and curries enriched with coconut crème (high on cholesterol) will further pave the way for a progressively decadent physical and mental state. The sporadic swim will not change this anymore and often serves as a pretext only.
A road trip is equivalent in that the only physical exercise consists of an occasional walk to the petrol station. Naturally this excursion is accompanied by the purchase of a chocolate bar whose nutritional values eradicate any eventual progress made.
These examples stand in strong contrast to a physically demanding tramp where the frequent intake of cheese and the usual sweets is well justified by the amplified metabolic activity. As the heart rate accelerates so does the blood circulation. This increased flow will furthermore thoroughly rinse through the cardiovascular system and remove all the sediments that could build up in the course of a vegetable-existence.
The recipe is to rise early, breath in the chilly, fresh air, enjoy a nourishing breakfast and get going! Just walking, climbing and walking. The altering weather conditions, complemented by the constant change of temperature, invigorates an intensified exchange of fresh blood into the smallest vessels and stimulates the senses. The heightened rate of perspiration results in cleansing the system from within. The bottom line is that an active metabolism, a pounding heart and stimulated senses make you feel alive – it literally revitalizes! Keeping the definition of a successful holiday in mind, this paragraph illustrates how a decent tramp accomplishes to fulfil the first of the two conditions.
The “massive grin on the face” is the second objective and is consequently the next subject under discussion. Back in Wellington, while leaving the Maldives-Airways plane, the “breeze” is likely to be the first friend to welcome you back. From there on it becomes increasingly apparent that the only thing just experienced has been an exchange of localities - to one's crass disadvantage. This is a direct result of spending ones valuable days off on a beach or in a car. Both activities are analogous to those of the couch potato at home: nothing but the scenery has changed.
Once again the following will exemplify why, in the light of our definition, an exhausting tramp is the far more effective remedy. Envision a tramp of epic dimensions and unexpected as well as unwanted weather conditions. Navigational difficulties (e.g. misinterpretations of the guide book) and further unforeseeable events, such as a twisted ankle, will only add to the challenge. Opposed to the comfort holidays, here the participants, while dwindling through the snow storm, may well yearn to be back in Wellington. When it is poring down with rain while trying to pitch up the tent in the dark and no-one volunteers to cook dinner, then a pizza delivery service may come to mind. The Arctic gale penetrates your sopping wet gear in such a way that it drains the remaining body heat, carries it away and duly chills you to the bare marrow.
Following these hardships a hot shower may well be all it takes to elicit a sigh of, let’s say, sexual proportions. Sitting at home next to the heater at the desk with a pair of dry woollen socks on while holding a steaming mug of hot chocolate tightly between the palms seems suddenly an outlook to strive for. Let me emphasize the essence of the previous sentence: sitting in Wellington on a desk seems suddenly an outlook to strive for; an auspicious foresight. When one is returned to Wellington, there results a massive grin on the face – must have been truly outstanding holidays!
This concludes the outline why, with regards to the above mentioned definition of a successful holiday, an exhausting tramp is in fact the most revitalising form of a vacation.