November 25, 2013

Central Park - My Favorite Urban Hike

Start spreading the news……hiking doesn’t always have to be in the woods.  You can hike right through the very heart of it—New York, New York.  My little town blues, they are melting away.

Of course, I’m referring to Central Park. Situated on 840 acres at the center of Manhattan in New York City, Central Park is the most visited urban park in the United States.  It is 6 miles around the entire park, 2.5 miles from north to south, and .5 miles from east to west. It is a lovely place to walk, hike, or jog.  From loops to pedestrian pathways, Central Park is the place to be in New York City for anyone looking to enjoy outdoor exercise.

Here is a small glimpse of what Central Park has to offer:

Central Park starts at 59th Street and ends at 110th Street.  East to west, it extends from  Fifth Avenue to Central Park West.   Here is an interactive map of the park. 

Created by landscape designer Frederick Law Olmstead and architect Calvert Vaux in 1857, it is a visual masterpiece.   Here is more history on the park. 

No horse and buggy for me, I want to be a part of it. 

Central Park was the first landscaped public park in the United States.

Early advocates for Central Park included wealthy merchants and landowners who admired the public grounds of London and Paris.  

More than 305 films have been filmed in Central Park making it the most filmed location in the world.  

Scattered throughout the park are many bridges,  playgrounds, benches, arches, and ornamental fountains.   Here is more information on a variety of park features. 

The 15-acre Sheep Meadow was actually home to a flock of sheep from 1864 until 1934.  In 1980, the Sheep Meadow was designated as the park's first Quiet Zone. 

There are 24,000 trees in the park including 1,700 American Elms.

Located near Central Park West between 71st and 74th Streets, Strawberry Fields is a 2.5-acre area of Central Park that pays tribute to the late Beatle, John Lennon.

The Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Reservoir. 

Central Park has seven bodies of water totaling 150 acres. 

The Reservoir loop is a 1.58-mile soft surface cinder pathway.  Famous runners on this track include President Bill Clinton, Madonna, and Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis (for whom the reservoir was named in 1994). 

The Reservoir loop offers spectacular views of the city.  Stay to the right on this path and hike or run counter clockwise.  Here is a link to running in Central Park. 

If you're not too hot and sweaty after the hike, you may enjoy the Guggenheim Museum located at 89th Street and Fifth Avenue, just steps away from Central Park.  Designed by architect Frank Lloyd Wright, it is now designated the youngest New York City landmark.  Here is a link to more information about the Guggenheim. 

If you enjoyed hiking in Central Park, no doubt you'll enjoy a casual stroll down the famous Fifth Avenue for some window shopping.

For hiking clothes, be sure to visit the UNIQLO store (which stands for unique clothing), the largest retail location on Fifth Avenue.  It features 100 dressing rooms and 50 cash registers. 

UNIQLO offers extra warm Heattech which has one and half times more heat retention properties than regular Heattech.   Here is more information on UNIQLO.

Not your average department store, Bergdorf Goodman is a luxury goods department store along Fifth Avenue.

Only window shopping for me at Bergdorf Goodman. 

How about some Breakfast at Tiffany's?  

Just like Holly Golightly,  Tiffany's is only a dream for me. 

Hope you've enjoyed this post as much as I enjoyed visiting New York City.  I want to wake up in that city that doesn't sleep, but for now, these hiking boots are longing to stray so I can "Keep On Hiking."

November 19, 2013

What's In Your Backpack?

Ask any hiker what they carry in their backpack, and the items will vary from person to person, season to season, and from hike to hike.  As an avid day hiker, here is my list of suggested items for your backpack. For convenience, they are separated into four categories:  Essentials, Safety, Nice to Have, and Personal.


Water, food and snacks, photo ID, insurance ID, money, credit card, rain gear, sunscreen, compass or map, cell phone, insect repellent, and bandana. 

Lunch along the trail is always enjoyable.  I like peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, protein bars, fruit, and nuts.  I also like to take another drink in addition to water for those times an energy boost is needed.  Be sure to "leave no trace." All trash, fruit peels, etc. should be taken with you. 
When you need it, it's nice to have that rain gear tucked away in your backpack. 

Using a map or compass is smart hiking. 

There are many uses along the trail for a bandanna.  If you missed last week's post on this subject, here it is again.  


Whistle, First Aid kit, flashlight or headlamp with extra batteries just in case, Safety Blanket, and insect bite ointment. You will notice a snake bit kit isn't included, and here is a link on how to treat snake bites.     

All hikers should carry a whistle which can be heard far away and takes less energy than yelling.  Three short blasts is a sign of distress. 

Hope you never have to use it, but always be prepared. 

The Coleman Safety Blanket reflects the heat back to the body and is compact and lightweight.  


Wide-brimmed hat, sunglasses, extra socks, sunscreen, Wet Wipes or hand sanitizer, writing pad and pencil, camera, sit pad, pocket knife, and lip balm.  Note: my hiking friend and guru, Wayne,suggests duct tape and fluorescent duct tape.  The first to use for taping blisters or equipment repairs, and the latter for marking the trail if bushwhacking or navigating in the event there are no trail blazes.  Thanks, Wayne.  

A wide-brimmed hat and sunglasses can provide welcome relief on hot sunny days

Most hikers are avid photographers, so don't forget the camera. 

If space allows in your backpack, a change of socks is a smart idea.

4.  Health

Toilet paper, hygiene products, prescription medication (if applicable), lamb's wool for the feet, and pain relief just in case!  

Here is a great article on hiking hygiene for women. 

I would love to hear from you.  If there is something you think should be added to my list, I welcome your comments. Be sure to click on the "comments" (bottom left) and use the drop down button for  "Comment As" to select your profile.  In the meantime, you never know when you may need one of the items included on my list, so you can "Keep On Hiking".   

November 10, 2013

You Might Be A Hiker If.......

With apologies to Jeff Foxworthy's famous catchphrase,
you might be a hiker if...

(Photograph courtesy of Patricia McAlpin) 

You might be a hiker if... you know that a bladder is a hydration source rather than a body part.  Here is a great article from Outdoor Gear Lab on selecting the right hydration bladder. 

You might be a hiker if... you know that Gaiters are something to wear rather than a creature which lurks in the swamps of Florida. Here is a great article from Section Hiker. 

You might be a hiker if you hear someone mention boots and immediately think of hiking boots rather than the high-heeled ones worn with blue jeans.  Here is great resource to shop for hiking boots. 

You might be a hiker if you use a bandanna as part of your hiking gear rather than a gang symbol.   Here is a great article on the many uses of a bandanna.  

You might be a hiker if you buy a backpack for something other than books.   Here is great advice from REI on how to choose the right backpack. 

You might be a hiker if you salivate at the thought of trail mix for lunch. Here’s an article on the nutritional value of trail mix. 

You might be a hiker if you get up earlier to go hiking than you do for work.  Here is an article on the wonderful benefits of nature therapy.

You might be a hiker if your vacations are planned around great hiking trails instead of amusement parks or beaches.  Here’s an article from National Geographic on the best U.S. Hiking Cities.  

You might be a hiker if you trade your 4-door highway cruiser for a trail-friendly SUV. Here is an article on the Best Vehicles for the great outdoors. 

And finally, if you know how to pronounce and spell plantar fasciitis, you just might be an enthusiastic hiker.  Here is an article on the affliction suffered by many hikers.  

With apologies to my favorite redneck comedian, Jeff Foxworthy, I hope you've enjoyed today's post and determined whether indeed you are a hiker so you can "Keep On Hiking". 

November 5, 2013

Keep Your Cool By Staying Warm This Winter

Hiking in the winter can be just as pleasant as any other season.  Wearing the right gear whether coat, vest, or sweater, is essential so you don't get too warm or cold.   Layering is important as you tend to begin the hike a bit cold, but end up feeling warm after a mile or two.   One of my favorite hiker friends says,  "if you are comfortable at the beginning of the hike, you'll surely be too warm after a mile or so."

The following are a couple of winter items that are either on my wish list or already hanging in the hiking closet. 

This North Face jacket is definitely on my wish list.   It has the revolutionary new "Thermo Ball" synthetic insulation which mimics the best of down but is cozy and light.  It has a nylon lining which wicks sweat off the skin for quick evaporation.  Best of all, this jacket can be easily stuffed into its own space-saving, left-hand stow pocket for quick and easy storage.  It repels light moisture and will keep you cozy and warm on a windy day. 

The LL Bean Thinsulate Vest is my all-time favorite hiking vest.  I like to wear it over a favorite crew top or light-weight fleece pullover.  It is lightly insulated so you stay comfortable whether indoors or out.  It has a very feminine shape and suitable to wear on or off the hiking trail. 

I hope Santa brings this Patagonia Better Sweater Jacket.  "With the feel of wool but the easy care of fleece, this sweater jacket is hard to beat for cool-weather adventures" according to Patagonia.  It is sized to be worn over other layers and under a shell jacket.  While on a recent hike with a very experienced hiker, she said by far this is her favorite piece of hiking attire. 

The North Face Warm Crew Neck top is a great first layer to wear with any of the items featured in this post.  It is made of midweight moisture-wicking polyester which keeps you dry even though you may be perspiring on that uphill climb.  This top has a relaxed, next-to-skin fit that skims the body. 

Columbia's Glacial Fleece III 1/2 Zip is perfect for layering and can be worn over a crew top, under a vest, sweater, or jacket.  It has flattering princess seams and a roomy, high collar to keep out drafts.

Many of these featured items can be found in your local outdoor recreation outfitter, and frequently you can find a cheaper store brand.  You don't have to buy an expensive name brand to get quality hiking gear.  I hope this information will help you stay warm this winter so you can Keep On Hiking.