onsdag 27 januari 2010

On Marcus Aurelius and tools for armchair trekking

Picture linked from : academic.shu.edu/honors/1101.html

Ever since watching the movie Gladiator, where Marcus Aurelius is depicted  briefly in the beginning, I have been interested in reading more about this Roman emperor. A while ago I finally got around to actually read the texts from the emperor himself, the Meditations. When reading letters from ancient people it is often striking how similar their problems are to ours. Funnily enough, Marcus Aurelius even has some consoling words for a longing armchair trekker like myself.

"People try to get away from it all - to the country , to the beach, to the mountains. You always wish you could too. Which is idiotic: You can get away from it anytime you like.
By going within.
Nowhere you can go is more peaceful - more free of interruptions - than your own soul."

Marcus Aurelius, Meditations, Book four (Translation by Gregory Hays, The Modern Library Classics, 2002)

With two small children, and a third one to arrive soon, I suspect this kind of mental escape will have to comfort me even more in the future. Books and maps certainly help in providing fuel for the journey, but nowadays with Internet applications we can get even closer to the destinations of our dreams.
When doing the research for my increasingly utopian Sarek project route, I used Google Maps, Google Earth and  the  3D maps of  Hitta.se . The quality of the 3D maps (especially Hitta.se) is often amazing.  It's  almost like flying over Sarek in a helicopter. To complement these views of my imagined route, I got extra information from people on the Swedish outdoor forum, Utsidan.se. One kind member, Pär Lindh, even sent me a link to a picture he took of the exact ascent from Sitojaure to Vassjavaggi I was thinking about (I feared that it would be too steep , but from the picture it seems quite OK). It would be interesting to hear from you, dear reader,  what tools you use for armchair trekking.