Dromomania – The Reason I Hike
Thru-hikers tire of answering the one question we get asked many times: why do we do it? A few cannot answer; others will spoil you with many reasons. Perhaps it’s just the pure act of hiking itself, or maybe the thrill of spending several months in the wild.
I have pondered this question many times over the years but it wasn’t until a few months ago that a definitive answer presented itself. So definitive in fact I reclined in my chair, clasped my hands behind my neck and I smiled.
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Crikey, that’s it!
Dromomania, from the Latin dromas (runner) and mania (excessive or unreasonable desire, even insanity) is an uncontrollable impulse to wander. It’s often appeased at the expense of careers, relationships and with a blithe disregard to mortgages, pensions and general financial planning. When I first saw the word, despite it sounding like an illness, a dazzling light bulb blinked on upstairs.
In extreme cases, a dromomaniac may have no memory of their travels – such as Jean-Albert Dadas, a Frenchman from Bordeaux who walked to far-away cities such as Moscow with no recollection of his travels.
The fact that mania is tagged on the end of this word is unfair. Let’s face it; most of us consider anyone with a mania to have been dealt some rough cards. The act of indulging in dromomania should not be frowned upon, it should be embraced. I believe that instead of chastising the condition, the blame should be laid firmly on the act of being stationary, being in one place for too long.