Blog by Sumana Harihareswara, Changeset founder

09 Apr 2012, 9:08 a.m.

Hiking Lessons

Hi, reader. I wrote this in 2012 and it's now more than five years old. So it may be very out of date; the world, and I, have changed a lot since I wrote it! I'm keeping this up for historical archive purposes, but the me of today may 100% disagree with what I said then. I rarely edit posts after publishing them, but if I do, I usually leave a note in italics to mark the edit and the reason. If this post is particularly offensive or breaches someone's privacy, please contact me.

I didn't grow up hiking, but I enjoy it when I can do it as an adult. Saturday, Leonard and I took the subway to the George Washington Bridge on the west side of Manhattan, walked across it to New Jersey, walked around in the Palisades, eventually found the Visitor Center and its neat Revolutionary War artifacts, and then reversed and went back home. We had a lot of fun! We watched an oriole (we think) for like 10 or 15 minutes, and that was amazing.

Lessons I learned:

  • I need hiking shoes that really fit. I got my boots nearly new for $20 at a thrift store just before I went to work on a farm for two weeks in 2007, and it was fine that they're a quarter to a half size too large. I just double-layered thick socks, and I was fine doing ag labor in them. But walking in these shoes for hours produces blisters. So, new shoes time. Five years, twenty dollars -- pretty good value.
  • I like doing this! I like walking on a trail in semiwildness, puzzling over a map with my partner, waiting till we get to a big clean rock before eating lunch, seeing pretty flowers.
  • I prefer not seeing cars while I hike. (The bit of the path that we hiked was mostly within eyesight distance of the highway.)
  • The ultralight backpack OSCON gave its attendees in 2011 is good for something!
  • Not only is water heavy, it's heavy enough that water for me for a day might weigh more than everything else I need to carry.
  • Tucking my pants into long socks works better than tucking the pants into the shoes.
  • The George Washington Bridge is too loud, and the pedestrian/bicycle path is too narrow and busy, for a really pleasant walk. The Brooklyn Bridge and the Golden Gate Bridge have better affordances for strolling.
I'm interested in doing similar day hikes, but it's offputting to have to take an hourlong subway ride and then walk for half an hour to get to the trailhead. Friends with cars might make this easier -- or you could recommend quasiwild park areas within 45 minutes of walking and transit from Astoria. I welcome your suggestions!


Selena Deckelmann
11 Apr 2012, 13:56 p.m.

One recommendation on water is to invest in a CamelBak-like setup. They're nice because they spread the water over more surface area and don't roll around uncomfortably inside a backpack. You may find that friends who used to do lots of bike-related sports have ones laying around their houses.

A few minutes of googling 'camelbak hacks' yielded some fun mods to equipment like:

Yay for hiking! Would love to go for a hike if you come to town for OSCON.