I used to hate camping – there was so much discomfort involved. I did quite a lot of it when I was young, until I realised I could say no. The weather was usually wet (this was the UK of course), the ground was lumpy, I was cold and uncomfortable, and I couldn’t sleep. So I really couldn’t understand the appeal.

Well, it’s all different now. So much so, that I’ve become a passionate bush walker, going for long treks deep into the wilderness. The thing is, you don’t need to carry much. All you need are the clothes you’re wearing, plus a small pack with portable versions of replicator, disposer, and energy box, and that’s more or less it! Anything you happen to need the replicator will produce, from food and drink to thermal underwear to a compass to a tent.

Obviously the delivery chute isn’t big enough to push out a full size tent. What it does instead is deliver a miniature tent, looking like a child’s toy. You place it on the ground in your chosen spot, set the time delay you want, stand back, and watch it expand into the full-size version. And inside, there’s full insulation, the floor is flat and your bed is already made!

Of course, if you prefer the physical challenge of a 23kg pack and a sleeping bag on the ground, you can still have it.

I’m not alone. There are lots of others like me who were put off before, and are now loving it. Put that together with no national boundaries, and the fact that most of us have saucers, and the result is that people are walking all over the planet – including formerly inaccessible places. Suddenly we’re explorers again.

You might think this would be a problem for the plant and animal life, but it isn’t. For one thing, we all care about the natural world these days, and want to take care of it. For another, since the arrival of the new technologies, we don’t need to use the Earth’s resources as we once did; we don’t need to farm food or mine minerals. So most of the surface of the Earth has been returned to nature, and the ecologies are thriving. Nor does everyone flock to the same beauty spot until the beauty spot is ruined. After all, the whole world is now one big beauty spot. So people spread themselves more thinly over it – both in where they live and where they visit.

Although there are no passports or border controls, there are new protocols that we all observe. If you want to land in a new area, you first make contact with the local community, and request permission to land there and go trekking. It’s unusual for them to say ‘No’, but they might ask you to avoid certain areas – for example, where extinct species have been reintroduced. But they’ll usually show you a route you can take without causing problems.

More often than not, they like you to spend some time with the community before you take off – and this is all part of the fun. They might ask you to help with the planting of some trees, or to join them in a ceremony or a feast or an exchange of news. Language is not an obstacle. Most of us are telepaths now, and anyway most communities have one of the translation devices that the Galactics gave us.

Most trekkers bring a gift from their own community – perhaps fruit grown in the community garden, or a song, a story, a painting or a hologram.

So trekking has become a major means of different cultures getting to know one another. This provides as much interest and pleasure as the walking itself, and is transforming international relations.


© Sue J Davis 2015

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