The Hiker’s List by Teddy Law

● 《山友的路線名單》 / 羅榮輝著

大抵每個山友都有一份行山路線名單。這份名單,或長或短,或詳盡或簡略。
Nearly every one of my fellow mountaineers has their own wish-list of hiking destinations. This wish-list may be long or short. It may be highly detailed or little more than a sketchy outline.

最近朋友分享了她的行山名單,當中概分了遠程、短途、陰天和晴天路線。我也有類似的目的地清單,簡略分作九龍、港島、西貢、新界及大嶼山等區域,以配合行山當日的天時地利人和,從中篩選一條合適的路線:天晴時挑選風景較佳的地點,天氣不佳時則選取以歷史文化為主的行程。完成目標後,將它們從名單中逐一剔除,再不斷刪減增補。
Recently, a friend of mine shared her wish-list with me. It was roughly divided into long journeys, short trips, and routes for clear and cloudy weather. I myself have a similar list of destinations, simply drawn up in terms of the different areas of Hong Kong: Kowloon, Hong Kong Island, Sai Kung, the New Territories and Lantau Island. From this list, I choose a suitable route in order to fit in with the season, geographical position and the availability of people to accompany me. If the weather is fine, I select a location with exceptional scenery. If the weather is not particularly good, I pick a route for its history and its culture. As I complete my objectives, I tick them off my wish-list one by one, constantly crossing off and adding things as I go.

或者生活繁忙的城市人都很精於計算,每事都考慮機會成本,衡量付出與收獲。在有限的假期和時間裏,我們都偏好探索新的景點,甚至在可行的時間內多跑幾個山頭,而且從不重複,務求提升效率。此舉原也無可厚非,但與之同時,個人對達成目標的渴望,也多多少少揭露了一點功利主義。
Given their hectic lifestyles, the people of this city tend to be very adept at calculation and, in everything they do, weigh up pros and cons, as well as consider outlays and gains. Since our time in general ⸺ as well as holiday time ⸺ is limited, we tend to explore new vistas, even where feasible making our way to the top of several mountains, never going to the same place twice, to ensure that our effectiveness improves. Such behaviour cannot really be criticized but, at the same time, this individual thirst for achieving goals reveals more than a hint of utilitarian self-seeking.

山行的足跡,不過是山體形成的悠長時間裏的一個剎那的點。看着手裏的路線名單,一個個地點不期然被硬分成好幾個檔次,不禁會問:到某地急登短遊,又如何能讀懂一座山?一份名單,既是清晰目標,又是無形枷鎖。對山的體悟,不免會被名單所限,被地點所困,被數字所惑。不過,有多少人,還是執意走遍香港所有山頭,摘下台灣百岳,挑戰世界高峰。
The footprints we make walking over mountains amount to little more than a split-second in their long-drawn-out formation. With a wish-list of routes in one hand with its individual destinations rather arbitrarily divided into any number of grades, one can’t help wondering: how can we ever hope to understand a mountain in our rushed ascents and abbreviated excursions? Any list, no matter how explicit the objectives, is at the same time a set of invisible shackles. Any true personal insight into a mountain is inevitably limited by a wish-list, restricted by specific locations, confounded by numbers. But for all that, many people are still bent on walking to the top of all Hong Kong’s mountains, ascending all the well-known ranges of Taiwan and challenging tall peaks throughout the rest of the world.

愛山樂水不是難事。隨着個人的體能技巧、心理質素的提升、裝備的改良、步道的完善和資源的配合,逐步達到目標的人已不在少數。將目標一一達成,無疑能豐富一個人的閱歷,甚至能成就一名傑出的登山家,但是我相信,一個真正的岳人,不該只是一名計劃的完美執行者。他不以一張亮眼的履歷來定義自己,而是體現在對大地的感悟。他所展現的,是堅毅精神,是視野胸襟,是素養態度,重責任多於權利,尚集體利益多於個人得失。
To take delight in mountains and rivers is not difficult. With the increase in individual physical strength and skill, an enhancement of mental calibre, improvement of hiking gear, the perfection of pathways together with the coordination of resources, many people have eventually managed to reach their objectives. Undoubtedly, reaching your goals one after another enriches your experience, and might even make you into a superb mountaineer, but in my view, the true lover of mountains should be something more than a Perfect Executor of Plans. Such a person is not defined by a dazzling curriculum vitae but realized through true insight into the Earth. What such a person displays are resoluteness and spirit, vision and a broad mind, cultivation and attitude, with an emphasis on responsibility over rights, and the common good over any personal loss or gain.

他會懂得山的語言,與山對話,能夠在熟悉的環境中尋覓新鮮感,從平凡的景物中找尋趣味,在狹窄的小徑中感受大山大水。他的腳步,順心而行,他的路徑,隨心而寬。
People like this can understand the language of mountains, and so are able to converse with them, and have the ability to discover fresh new feelings in familiar surroundings, delight in mundane scenery, as well as experience mighty mountains and rivers on narrow trails. They walk where their own nature happens to lead them, and their paths grow wider along with their own hearts.

我總覺得,最難攀越的那座山岳,不載列在一紙名單上,而是懸繫在心頭。
At any rate, my feeling is that the most difficult mountain to overcome is not written down on any list but can only be found in our own minds.

Photograph: 香港西貢蚺蛇尖 Sharp Peak in Sai Kung, Hong Kong (www.oasistrek.com)

The Chinese version of this essay first appeared on Hiking Windfire.

羅榮輝 • 《獨行》/ Teddy Law • “Solitary Walking”

Teddy LAW Cover 1

Translator’s Introduction

The following extract is from a wonderful book on the wild places of Hong Kong called 《咫尺山林》by Teddy Law 羅榮輝, first published in 2016 by EDGE/Roundtable Synergy Books. If you love hiking in Hong Kong and you can read Chinese, I think you’ll find it hard to resist this practical-poetical account of twenty-nine Hong Kong hiking journeys. But if you can’t read Chinese, here’s a small taste of Teddy’s take on heading off into the hills on your own. I think you’ll find he manages to distil a lot of rich thinking in a very short space.

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獨行是領略自然的一個方式。它是專注的,坦誠的,赤裸的。踏著土地,逐漸與自然融合,悄然地成為其一部分。與自然無阻隔地對話,更能讓人走進內心深處。自然讓獨行者為其景色而喜悅之際,也同時帶來撫慰,給予一個重新認識自己的機會。獨行者從自我認識中開始欣賞自己,相信自己的價值,進而發掘人生的目標與意義。對獨行者而言,這可能是在某個人生階段的機緣賦予的一把鑰匙,開啓自我尋找的大門。只是方式跟別人不同罷了。
As a way of coming to appreciate nature, solitary walking is absorbed, candid, naked. Making foot-contact with the Earth, gradually you merge with the natural world until ― without even noticing it ― there you are: part of it. This direct, unobstructed dialoguing with nature is even more conducive to finding a way into the deepest parts of a person’s inner life. At that moment when nature allows the solitary walker to take delight in its scenery, there is also then consolation and a new chance to get to know oneself. From this knowledge of self, the solitary walker begins to appreciate herself, to believe in her own value, and thus to bring to light the goals and meaning of her life. This may provide solitary walkers with a key at a particular stage in their lives, opening the gate to a self they have been searching for. We all do this: it is just that solitary walkers do it in their particular own way.

然而,社會上對獨行卻有截然不同的見解。坊間不但認為獨行不可取,甚至認為是一種不負責任的行為。傳媒報道獨行的意外事故時,論調也傾向於將獨行歸咎為主要原因,也有輿論指在事故發生後,需要浪費社會資源進行救援,而救援人員也需冒著生命危險執行拯救任務,批判獨行者往往只顧一己歡愉,而做出損人累己的行為。獨行也常予人一種孤僻的觀感。大眾可能會有一種偏見,認為獨行者都有社交或溝通上的障礙,或是一種心理失衡狀況的反顯。
However, society’s views on solitary walking are quite different. Out in the broader community, not only is solitary walking regarded as being undesirable; it is even considered to be a form of irresponsible behaviour. When hiking accidents are reported in the media, the coverage tends to attribute most of the blame to walking on one’s own. Opinion is also directed at what happens after an accident: the social resources that are wasted in rescue operations, and the risks to their own safety run by rescue personnel in carrying out such operations. Solitary walkers are criticized for generally thinking only about their personal pleasure, engaging in a form of behaviour that benefits them at the expense of others. Solitary walkers also often give people the impression that there is something gu-pik or “uncommunicative and eccentric” about them. The community may therefore nurse certain prejudices, believing that solitary walkers are lacking in basic social and/or communication skills, or that their behaviour reflects some kind of psychological imbalance.

誠然,獨行具一定程度的風險。但獨行事故的發生除了意料之外的因素,很大程度也與一些控制範圍以內的因素相關,包括遠足經驗、行程準備、路況認知、身體狀況、天氣狀況,以及遇事時的應變方法。這些老生常談的觀點,甚至是遠足最基本的考慮因素,卻往往是最容易被忽略。因為獨行最大的危機在於未能謙遜地評估風險,以及未能坦白地承認自身能力的不足。然而,將獨行定性為一種高風險的活動,殊為可惜。
To be sure, walking alone involves some degree of risk. Apart from unforeseeable factors, however, the occurrence of accidents involving solitary walkers can to a large extent be put down to certain factors that lie within an individual’s control such as hiking experience, preparation for the walk, knowledge of path conditions, one’s physical condition, weather, and skills in responding to emergencies. Such commonplace notions ― the most basic things even to consider when going on a hike ― are often the easiest things to overlook. This is because the biggest difficulty facing solitary walkers is not having appraised the risks with sufficient modesty and not having acknowledged with complete honesty any inadequacies in one’s physical strength. To define solitary walking as a high-risk activity is a great pity.

不論是為自由、空間、挑戰、或親近自然而出行,這個體驗過程都可讓人更了解自己,進而演化成自我的追尋。可以說,獨行是孤而不僻,開闊而不狹隘的。獨行對心靈和精神都發揮積極作用,塑造正面的思維與價值觀,繼而作出生活與行為的改變。我們珍惜生命的價值,不該只是狹義地存活,而無視心靈層面的追求;我們重視公共資源的合理運用,不可僅僅考慮意外發生後對社會資源的耗損,而否定獨行對一個人思想行為的啓發,從而對社會作出的正面影響。
No matter whether you set off for the sake of freedom, more personal space, the challenge to yourself or to get close to nature, undergoing such an experience can help a person to understand themselves, thereby transforming hiking into a quest for the self. Walking on your own is, I think it is fair to say, gu or “solitary” but not pik or “weird”, an opening out and not a narrowing down. Solitary walking has a positive effect on both the soul and the spirit: it moulds a positive way of thinking as well as a positive set of values, leading to a transformation in both one’s life and one’s behaviour. Cherishing the value of our lives does not mean reducing everything to our narrow existences and remaining indifferent to any pursuit of the spiritual; proper regard for the reasonable use of public resources cannot be reduced to the mere waste of such resources in the event of an accident, thereby depriving us of the enlightenment that solitary walking brings to an individual’s thinking and behaviour and the positive influence this in turn has for a society.

獨行有其兩面性,但它本身並不可怕,可怕的是它只有一種片面而負面的解讀。漠視獨行的本質,抹殺獨行的深層意義,如同摧毀一條自我尋找之路。
Solitary walking has its good and bad points but, in itself, there is nothing terrible about it. The terrible thing is to interpret it in a manner that is only one-sided or negative. To be indifferent to the essential nature of solitary walking and to write off its deeper significance is to obliterate one route to our finding of ourselves.

願有一天,獨行不再是一種忌諱。
It is my wish that one day solitary walking will no longer be something people resent or avoid as being harmful.

Translated by Simon Patton