The Downeast Lakes Land Trust was gratified to host a book talk at the Grand Lake Stream Historical Society with freelance journalist and summer resident, Wayne Curtis. Discussing his up-coming book, The Last Great Walk, Wayne outlined the 1909 journey of Edward Payson Weston who walked from New York to San Francisco in 105 days at the age of 70.
“Thousands of people came out to see Weston walk.” Wayne explained. ”Walking in general was a big deal. There were large events around competitive walking, with practitioners espousing different walking styles. It was serious business”
“For instance, Weston was pathologically concerned about someone stepping on his feet and injuring them. He generally had a group of walkers around him to form a barrier so no one could step on him,” Wayne explained. However, Weston’s walk came as Model Ts were surging off assembly lines, making mechanized travel increasingly affordable to the public.
Weston’s walk was at the end of an era. Since then, America has plunge into sedentarianism, with the associated deleterious effects on both physical and mental health. “We sit all the time now. Our back muscles weaken, so we need more cushioning and support. The chairs get bigger and bigger until we are subsumed by them. The first Lazyboy was made out of what looked like a packing crate– in the newest models– the person disappears into them!” said Curtis.
Citing studies from the Kahahari bush to Amish country, Wayne compared the number of steps walked from culture to culture and their associated levels of obesity. Wrapping up, Wayne pointed to research which found regular exercise such as walking was as effective in managing depression with medication. “We were designed to walk, and it is something we need to return to.”
The Downeast Lakes Land Trust regularly hosts speakers, sponsors workshops, and leads outdoor adventures that highlight the natural and cultural history of the Maine woods and waters. These programs support the DLLT’s commitment to protecting both the environmental and economic health of the Downeast Lakes region. Visit their website to discover what is happening next.