From The Complete Walker. by Colin Fletcher:
There is a cardinal rule of travel, all too often overlooked, that I call
"The Law of Inverse Appreciation."
It states: "The less there is between you and the environment, the more you
appreciate the environment."
Every walker knows, even if he has not thought about it, the law's most obvious
application: the bigger and most efficient your means of travel, the further you
become divorced from the reality through which you are travelling. A man learns
a thousand times more about the sea from the Kon Tiki than from the Queen
Mary; euphorically more about space at the end of a cord than inside a capsule.
On land, you remain closer in touch with the countryside in a slow moving old
open touring car than in a modern, air-conditioned, tinted-glass-window,
80-miles-per-hour-and-never-notice-it behemoth. And you come closer in touch on
a horse than any car; in closer touch on foot than on any horse.
But the law has a second and less obvious application: your appreciation varies
not only according to what you travel "in" but also according to what you travel
"over." Drive along a freeway in any kind of car and you are in almost zero
contact with the country beyond the concrete. Turn off onto a minor highway and
you are a notch closer. A narrow country road is better still. When you bump
slowly along a jeep trail you begin at last to sense those vital details that
turn mere landscape into living countryside. And not long ago, on the East
African savanna -- where it was at the time not considered destructive to drive
cross-country over the pale grasslands -- I discovered an extending corollary to
my law: "The further you move away from any impediment of appreciation, the
better it is."
It is less obvious that these same discrepancies persist when you are travelling
on foot. Any blacktop road holds the scrollwork of the country at arm's length:
the road itself keeps stalking along on stilts or grubbing about in a trough,
and your feet travel on harsh and sterile pavement. Turn off onto a dusty jeep
trail and the detail moves closer. A foot trail is better still. But you do
not really have to break free until you step off the trail and walk through
waving grass or woodland growth or across rock or smooth sand or (most perfect
of all) virgin snow. Now you can read all the details, down to the print.
Drifting snow crystals barely begun to blurr the four footed signature of the
marten that padded past this lodgepole pine. Or a long-legged lizard scurries
for cover, kicking up little spurts of sand as it corners around a bush. . .And
always, in snow or sand or rock or seascape grass there is, as far as you can
see in any direction, no sign of man.
That, I believe, is being in touch with the world.