Photo by Karl Manzer, via Momentum magazine
Many people will agree that spending time in the natural environment helps us better appreciate the wonders of our unique little planet. The understanding thus gained often leads to positive action to clean up our own mess. But there remains that eco-conundrum of how do we get ourselves from our mostly urban existence to those deserts, mountains, rivers, coasts and forests with their many lessons to learn. Flying and driving can seem somewhat counterproductive to the greener future we strive for.
Well, there is a small but growing band of people who have decided to enjoy their outdoor experiences without toting along any climate change baggage. They cycle, walk or paddle to the trailhead from the nearest bus stop or train station. And the really keen even forgo the public transit and simply set off from home. Like Goran Kropp, who in 1996, rode a bike, laden with mountaineering gear, from his home in Sweden all the way down to Nepal, then climbed to the summit of Everest -- before mounting his trusty steed and riding home again!
Unfortunately Goran died in a rockclimbing accident some years ago. But his legacy lives on. in 2005-06 Renata Chlumska, paying homage to her late fiance, Goran Kropp, completed the trip they had planned together -- a self-propelled 439 day circumnavigation of the lower 48 United Sstates by cycling (towing a kayak) and kayaking.
Image: Renata Chlumska
Erden Eruç, the climber who was belaying Goran when he had his fatal accident, has likewise taken up the challenge and is working on a self propelled global circumnavigation, which will include an ascent of the highest peak on six continent. So far he has cycled to Seattle to Alaska to summit on Mt McKinley and pedal home to Seattle. Since then he has ridden down to San Francisco and paddled solo across the Pacific Ocean to Papua New Guinea (in 312 days!) Next year he plans to row down to Australia, climb its highest point, and cycle across the west coast before paddling up to Asia before cycling into Nepal and hence Everest. This is all part of his grand vision of a self-propelled circumnavigation of the globe, taking in the highest summits on six continents. Also known as the Around'n'Over project.
Around'n'Over Six Summits route
(Roz Savage, is also working a USA to Australia row, though hers is via Hawaii and Tuvalu. If successful it will be a big first for womenkind.)
But not all of us have the time for such long term adventures. For the rest of us there is the likes of the Self-Propelled Outdoors Club (SPOC), a Vancouver, Canada, based "agglomeration of enthusiasts dedicated to fully self-propelled, wilderness adventures." They became disenchanted with the incongruencies between the use of fossil fuel combusting transportation and the pristine wilderness we seek." Their objective is to encourage, promote, and sustain fully self-propelled adventure through an economically and socially accessible manner.
Momentum magazine has a lovely article on SPOC, where one of the members, who works in a bike is quoted observing that "more and more people are coming into the shop because they are concerned: from climate change to dwindling oil supplies, people are embracing the idea of cycling as a way to independently fuel trips within and beyond the city."
The Varsity Outdoor Club of the University of British Columbia, also have some great car-free outdoor adventures listed on their wiki site.
From further south on the North American west coast comes the blog 'Post-Car Adventuring (in and around the San Francisco Bay Area)' , who have a similar goal to SPOC, "to provide those who, either by choice or by necessity, do not have a personal automobile, ideas and information for car-free trips to (mostly natural) areas commonly thought be to inaccessible without a personal vehicle." They point out that "the goal is not ideological environmental asceticism and/or anti-car militancy, but pleasure while engaged in environmentally and socially-responsible practices ..."
When Peak Oil really kicks in these will be the type of people who'll have adapted best to their new circumstances. Looking at the effort such folk are putting should make that short ride to buy groceries seem all that less daunting.
More TreeHugger on Self Powered Journeys
• First Muscle Powered Global Circumnavigation Completed
• BoardFree: Human-powered Skateboard Crossing of Australia
• Human Powered Journeys