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Just Pretend They are Trees

New York Canyons

I don't know how people can live in New York. I arrived at Penn Station yesterday at the peak of rush hour and there were so many people on the side walk. It was disorienting. Luckily I was with my friend and colleague Hikezilla. He knows his way around this part of New York as well as the woods of New Hampshire and Georgia.

There were record breaking temperatures when we emerged from the train station. It was hot. We tried fruitlessly to get a cab and then started the long walk to our hotel. We took turns leading. I'd follow him, walking against the crowds for a while and weaving from one opening to another. A flash flood of people.

There are no hills, no grass, and no landmarks to distinguish one block from another. For someone who lives for the woods and mountains and streams, this place is hell.

We sat in a cafe and wondered, what if the people were all trees? What if the stoplights were trail junctions? Is there enough oxygen in this place for all of the people?

Thankfully we took the express train back to Boston and back home. Quiet, cool, with free wireless for the laptops. It's almost worth riding the rails for 3 hours of complete peace and quiet.

Back to Red Sox Nation and the dark spring mist


  1. I had to laugh about this, Philip. I waited almost 50 years to make my first trip to NYC, certain that it would be a wasteland of buildings and crushed humanity. When a friend talked me into going, I fell in love with the city immediately. All the people! My species! A constant flow of energy!

    Not to say I don't seek out Central Park on every trip. But mountains are mountains and cities are cities – both places wonderful in their own ways.

  2. I was born in NY and have been back many many times. I wasn't expecting to have this reaction on this trip. Maybe it was because I was traveling with hikezilla, who always reminds me of New Hampshire. I often just solo NY.

  3. Perhaps I had an advantage. Because, you see, earlylite did not "go light" on his NY trip. In fact, he had a briefcase AND a rolling bag, whilst I only had my new Mountain Hardware Enterprise daypack. A perfect size for a single night trip.

  4. Interesting observation there zilla. For some reason I need to bring a lot of comfort clothes and toys when staying in a hotel, but not when I'm sleeping outdoors. Never thought of it that way.

  5. I always used to feel like a shower after visiting New York, so I can understand the need for a change of clothes. Don't know why because I've learned to live in or around other cities (Philadelphia, New Haven (almost a city), Washington & Atlanta) without that feeling.

  6. Oh I like this thread. As a person whose favorite place is the Adirondacks but who manages to navigate NYC with my partner's encouragement, I think of it as cross-training (ultralight packing principles, map reading, footwear experiments). My preference is sleeping on the ground, but a cozy B&B in the West Village and a hike along the Highline can be fun if I keep my anxiety level in check.

  7. Wooly – you know I had the same thought about map reading practice and using a compass and not using the street signs as references. Do you want to write a post about navigating in NYC with just a compass/map?

  8. Well it's not like I use a topo map of NYC but I do have a mental picture of the shape of Manhattan. Every time I come up out of the subway I'm turned around and the sun is behind skyscrapers but my compass heads me in the right direction. If I came up on Park Ave and had to walk a whole block to see if I arrived at Lexington or Madison (east versus west) I'd be screwed. And I guess using a compass reminds me I am still walking the earth albeit obscured by human structures. So the lesson is when you can't rely on landmarks your mental picture of the lay of the land plus your compass will serve you well.

  9. NYC???

    No thank you….

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