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Investigaciones geográficas

versão On-line ISSN 2448-7279versão impressa ISSN 0188-4611

Resumo

FRANCH-PARDO, Iván; SUNYER MARTIN, Pere; URQUIJO TORRES, Pedro Sergio  e  JIMENEZ RODRIGUEZ, Diana Laura. Hiking and Geography in Post-Revolutionary Mexico: the Club de Exploraciones de México. Invest. Geog [online]. 2018, n.97, 00005. ISSN 2448-7279.  http://dx.doi.org/10.14350/rig.59680.

The study the origins of hiking in Mexico is highly relevant from the geographic standpoint. The early itineraries and objectives of hikers, as well as the stories they developed from each field trip, are a source for the historical geographic knowledge of mountainous areas, which are usually forgotten and overlooked. They also allow us to get closer to the role played by the associations of hikers as communicators of national social values and knowledge. A geographical reading of hiking should address at least three aspects: first, the location of places visited; second, aspects observed in them, if at all; and third, the perceptions and feelings of hikers in those places or along the paths chosen. This article focuses explores the origin of organized hiking in Mexico, its objectives and scope over the first three years of existence. We will focus particularly on the first aspect mentioned, i.e. the destinations and routes employed by hikers, supplemented with references to the observations made, from the review of the documents and publications of one of the oldest formally established associations of Mexico, the Club de Exploraciones de México (Hikers’ Club of Mexico, CEM). Created in 1922 from an initiative of the Californian Otis Mc Allister, CEM is a good example of an association that has inspired many generations of young men and women, for nearly a century, to carry out an activity considered by them to be more than a sport.

In this first approach from historical, political and social scenario of hughe changes, we explore the concerns of this group that met periodically to walk around and get to know the geographical environment in their surroundings. The idea of McAllister was to charter an association similar to the Sierra Club, in California, in which, in addition to being a member, he was also the son and nephew of two of its founders. The mission of the Club, the social characteristics of its members and the analysis of more than a hundred of field trips between 1922 and 1924 reveal the importance of hiking as a social practice and as a means for the communication of national values; the relevance of the contact with the natural environment in the formation of an individual; and the role of hiker clubs in the discovery and knowledge of the national relief.

Among the key findings, we can affirm that the Mexican hiking, at least in its early stages, seemingly was not driven by scientific curiosity, unlike European and North American alpine clubs. As in Europe, the Mexican hiking was an urban phenomenon led by middle-class citizens who wanted to make good use of leisure time while broadening the knowledge of the country through its mountains. It also had a nationalist side, reflected in its coat of arms and the exaltation of human growth through contact with nature and physical activity.

Field trips carried out by CEM in its first two years indicate an interest for national emblematic places, such as archaeological zones (Teotihuacán-Acolman, Cuicuilco-El Pedregal, Huexotla, Tepozteco, Xochicalco, Tezcotzingo), some of which were in process of recovery and restoration. Also of interest were areas of pre-Columbian and colonial historic-artistic value such as Tepozotlán, the convent of Los Remedios and the aqueduct (Naucalpan, State of Mexico), Tepoztlán (Morelos); forest areas and other areas of unique natural beauty (El Chico, Zempoala lagoons and Hueyapan); and peaks located relatively close that promised spectacular panoramic views (Ajusco, Cerro San Miguel, Coconetla).

There was no apparent systematic exploration plan behind these destinations, from either a chronological or a geographical standpoint. Instead, the selection criteria seemed to have been based on a certain historical tradition of beautiful sites whose knowledge led to others.

On the other hand, destinations were selected were according to accessibility by transportation means, as these played a key role in the expansion of its geographical range. Although hikers converse spatially with the territory by traveling across it on foot, most of the goals of the hiking club would not have been possible without transportation means. The territorial structuring conformed by the network of trains and trams allowed traveling to places that were frequently remote, at a time when owning a vehicle was uncommon and the road network was still to be consolidated in Mexico.

Palavras-chave : historical geography; associations of hikers; mountain travel; Otis Mc Allister.

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