This past weekend my partner Tracy and I went on a 6+ mile urban hike in NYC from Midtown to the Bronx. It was about 120+ blocks. We started in Time Square on 42nd Street and meandered northeast to 5th Avenue where we Hiked along Central Park stopping to admire some goats and llamas from the zoo that are visible from the Street. We walked up to maybe 72nd Street and then crossed over the 3rd Ave towards a Vegan Restaurant where we stopped for Lunch. After an incredible tasty and creative lunch, we continued north on 3rd Street. We watched the Upper East Side turn into Harlem at the crest of a hill and then continued thru Harlem all the way to the River where we cut over to a pedestrian-friendly bridge that would take us to the Bronx where Tracy’s friends were awaiting our visit. Once in the Bronx, we used Tracy’s smartphone to take us to her friend’s address. I’m guessing it took us in the most direct route but not without some confusion as it routed us under a highway through an industrial area with a lack of sidewalks.
Along the way, we compared urban hiking to wilderness hiking. I thought about how a trail in the forest goes through different climates and ecosystems. How when I am hiking a mountain, I can be in a thickly dense pine forest for while where baby trees grow easily along the trail so much sometimes to the point where volunteers have to pull them out in order to maintain the hiking trail. This same trail then eventually becomes totally exposed in an alpine zone where signs caution hikers not to step on the fragile trees that grow much more slowly at these higher elevations thus becoming hearty and wind blown. The woods can take me thru the most lushy greenest and softest mosses I have ever scene and then deliver me onto unrelenting jagged rocks. I thought about how every part of the mountain has something different to offer whether it is welcome or not. I recall times I am so relieved to get out of the trees because I am escaping the bugs, I am reaching the views, I am being cooled off by the cooler air, and I am being humbled by the universe. And I recall moments on top of mountains and ridges where I am racing to get back below tree line to seek shade or shelter from an oncoming storm or a burning or setting sun.
When Tracy and I reached the Northern edge of Harlem we had to change course to cross over Harlem River to get into the Bronx. The bridge we thought we were going to cross did not have a sidewalk. Tracy likened this to crossing a brook and I thought about the many crossings I’ve experienced where there was no longer a bridge or the water levels were so high that I would have to search up or down stream to find a safer place to cross.
Our 3rd avenue trek inspired me to simply bring more of an adventurous mindset to the simplicities and complexities of everyday life that can often get lost for me when my route or daily plan doesn’t feel efficient or direct enough.