Thursday, September 18, 2014
Last month, eight brave souls from the New York area set out with Discover Outdoors on our inaugural Appalachian Trail section hike. My co-guide, Lydia, and I led the team from the New Jersey line through Cortland, New York, toting five days' worth of supplies on our backs: food, gear, tents, clothes. Today, we bare the Appalachian Trail Section Hiker badge proudly.
What did we learn? Being New Yorkers works to our advantage. Check out 5 reasons your New York'ness will give you a leg up on the trails:
New Yorkers know how to pack.
Thirty years worth of squeezing into a studio apartment pays off. We put up with small bedrooms, tiny closets, and tiny closets that pass off as small bedrooms, but we find a way to make it work. When you're trying to fit 5 days' of food, gear, and shelter into a backpack, the ability to pare down and pack in is priceless...
New Yorkers walk... everywhere.
Whether we're taking a stroll through the park or hoofing it through midtown, New Yorkers walk. A lot. We walk so much that we have our own subset of rules about it. Considering that the most basic goal of a section hike is to walk from one place to another, we already have a head start. Forty miles? That's just a quick walk from Canal St. to 96th St. and back four times.
New Yorkers know maps.
New York City is basically a grid, but it can still be a tough city to navigate between the updates, delays, new lines and surprise closures. Because of that, we are constantly referring to maps. On the AT, the ability to read a map is essential. Figuring out where you are and where you're going is the difference between safe and stranded.
New Yorkers can handle scary wildlife.
Sure, the woods have a whole range of creatures from bugs to bears, but have you ever seen a subway rat? I am not the only one who has come down with serious ornithophobia from those dive-bombing pigeons. The truth is that the creepy crawlers you see in the city are a whole lot ickier than the ones you may run into in the wild. In fact, spotting a family of deer from a safe, respectful distance is actually quite a treat. Spotting a mouse in your kitchen is not.
New Yorkers are tough.
Being a section hiker takes guts, strength, fortitude, and passion - four things that New Yorkers have in spades. As much as we all love it, life here can certainly knock us down sometimes, but what makes us New Yorkers is our ability to get back up. When you've been hiking for days and you look up at a huge climb, it's tempting to give up. That ability to dig deep and find your inner strength is what's going to carry you to the summit. Maybe I'm biased, but for my money, there's nothing more New York than that.
So, the next time you hear someone ask, "What can a New Yorker know about living in the wild," remember our little secret: we already do.
By Lauren Skonieczny, Discover Outdoors Guide
Categories: Adventure, People, Education