Around one hundred years ago there were still significant undiscovered areas of the planet. But once Amundsen and his team reached the South Pole and proved that it was not a land of dragons and pots of gold, the role of the “explorer” changed forever. “If it was not before, it had most definitely now become a game.” Explorers had become mere Adventurers, doing stuff just for the fun of it rather than to actively discover new and useful things.
So writes Tristan Gooley in his new book, The Natural Explorer. It’s one of my favourite books this year.
He argues that we have fallen into the trap of “believing that territory needs to be virgin for exploration to be possible or, failing this, an explorer must risk their life and dance with the extremes of physical endurance. Neither of these notions is true.”
I suspect that Gooley would approve of microadventures, of seeking out the extraordinary in the familiar, and travelling with curiosity and an open mind. He says that the “aim must be to return to celebrating the acts of discovering and sharing, on however modest a scale…
An ardent spirit of inquisitiveness married with the opportunity to connect more deeply and share more widely with the world around us than ever before: this is where the joys lie.”
The Natural Explorer focuses on every aspect of the natural world: plants, animals, rocks, water, light… The book is crammed with lovely nuggets of observational information and tips for paying more attention to the natural world around us and all its discoveries. For example you take in more details of a landscape if you scan it in the opposite direction to which we read, ie from right to left. And rivers will not naturally run straight for more than ten times their width, regardless of size.
The art and skill of natural navigation is a lovely way for getting more out of any adventure and making even a short walk an epic adventure. Find out more about The Natural Explorer here.