On a Sierra Club Outing, author Albert Palmer tells of a conversation he had with John Muir on the trail. He asked Muir, “someone told me you did not approve of the word “hike.” Is that so?” His blue eyes flashed, and with his Scotch accent he replied:
“I don’t like either the word or the thing. People ought to saunter in the mountains – not hike! Do you know the origin of that word ‘saunter?’ It’s a beautiful word. Away back in the Middle Ages people used to go on pilgrimages to the Holy Land, and when people in the villages through which they passed asked where they were going, they would reply, ‘A la sainte terre,’ ‘To the Holy Land.’ And so they became known as sainte-terre-ers or saunterers. Now these mountains are our Holy Land, and we ought to saunter through them reverently, not ‘hike’ through them.”
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