hike the city.


hike the city.

artist statement.
I don’t like the city.
This project is an attempt to reconcile my differences with the urban environment. It is based on a journey taken in the summer of 2010 in Washington D.C. A walk: from the northern most point of the district to the southern tip. Twelve miles, one day. In order to experience the entirety of what is the District of Columbia, the planned route wound through a diverse cluster of neighborhoods: rich, poor, safe, sketchy, urban, green, touristy, almost forgotten, historic, colorful and bland. The journey was based on the idea of hiking, something I miss every day. It was an attempt to pry my mind away from the notion that a hike is not limited to a place covered in trees, far removed from society, but that it can be anywhere. What came to be was a guide to urban hiking. An examination of the act of wandering the urban landscape, from the planning stages to the completion and celebration of the trek. This is for all who live in the city but have left their hearts in wide open spaces.


wander lost in the city.
Humans have always had the urge to explore uncharted territory, to go out into the woods, to get dirty, to live under the sun, to be self reliant. But we also have the need for human contact, for community, for social and family structures. People come to the city for many different reasons, be it school, money, family or anything else. Once there, it’s easy to get stuck, among the noise, in a place where everything else falls away...
lifetime to explore an entire city; it’s constantly changing, alive with the over abundance of activity. An ecosystem of its own. A living, breathing entity. Sometimes all it takes is a change of pace, taking a different sidewalk to work in the morning, enjoy the public transportation instead of wishing you were somewhere else. Stop and smell the flowers in the neighbors overly-landscaped yard. Hell, pick a few and bring them inside, they’ll never know, they’re caught up in their daily routine too. Walk in the rain. Find a spot to watch the sunset, even if it means climbing the water tower in that vacant lot that you pass by every single day. Take something and make something out of it. Find ways to make a greenspace for yourself. Grow a garden. Get dirty. Be creative, let your mind wander outside of the boundaries set by the sardine can society that you live in. Being active is the best outlet. It helps to have a bit of a sense of humor as well... that will get you far in life... especially if you live in the city. Not being able to laugh and take a step back will surely lead to your demise! So if you are frustrated, bored and feeling slightly trapped in your concrete world, take a hike. Don’t just go for a walk in your neighborhood, make it an event, an excursion, something to look forward too. Get outside of your comfort zone. After all, that is what we do when wander out into the country on those barely blazed trails. Nothing good ever comes from staying inside the 9-5 lines.

Find your peace of mind.
Day after day we see the same things over and over. Our commute makes us numb to our surroundings and becomes a means to an end. Take a second and really look at what surrounds you. Things will take on new meanings and you will start to enjoy things that you never knew existed but were near you all the while.

There must exist a balance. Balance is necessary for life and wellbeing. How does one cope with living in the crazy labyrinth that exists between the city walls? Where do you go to get away when you can’t get away?

Adaptation and evolution. If you can’t get to the wilderness, bring the wilderness to the city. It doesn’t take a change of latitude to grab a your pack, throw some hiking shoes on and head out the door for somewhere new. It would take a






things you will carry.
What to bring on your hike.
Hiking in the urban outdoors is sometimes tricky. Since there are plenty of available resources, such as drinking fountains, ATMs, grocery stores, pay phones, directories, people, and everything in between, it is possible and quite easy to go “ultralite”. But for those who like to be independent and resourceful, there are several basic things that every urban hiker needs to bring along.






1. A good, comfy backpack for carrying all of your things. Smaller is easier in the city. 2. Cell phone, in case of emergency Facebook status updates. 3. Weaponry. 4. A good map. Must have coffee stains and tears or it won’t work. 5. Water. hydrate or die. 6. Music is essential for any excursion. 7. Mail! Send some mail, people will be happy and you’ll feel like you’re on vacation. 8. A small journal for note taking and sketching. 9. Don’t forget the dollars. City hiking can be expensive. 10. Coffee. You will need at least four shots of espresso to start off your journey.


Don’t plan your route.
Don’t do it. Don’t plan your route. Don’t map out the trails you intend to follow. Don’t follow a trail. That’s the best part of being in the city. Are you ever really going to be lost? No. There will be some random person from which you can get directions. Or if you pay attention, and follow the grid that every single city is based on, you can easily follow letters and numbers and get yourself out of any bind.

That being said, it’s handy to carry a street map. And kind of fun too. But beware, if there are too many people around, you may resist pulling out said map due to the chance you may be mistaken as a tourist. This will not be a good situation, it is highly recommended that you avoid looking like a tourist at all times. If you do come to a fork in the road, take the most adventurous and strange looking direction, it will be far more rewarding. You may end up in an alley eating the best burrito of your life, or you might end up sitting along the river as the sun sets. The greater the risk, the greater the reward. This can be taken advantage of whilst in the city, as opposed to the wild, where you may fall off a cliff, get eaten alive, run out of food, or become hypothermic. Satisfy your inner wanderlust.


leave your trace.
The city is your canvas.
Everywhere you look, everyone is leaving their mark. It’s nowhere near pristine, but it’s more interesting than staring at unmarked, untouched, boring, grey concrete. Take in the colors of the city. The stickers, the grafitti, the marker tags, the posters, the murals... the visual surroundings of your city can give you a lot of information about your environment. Just like the animals in the wild leave footprints and scat.

Plan Ahead and Prepare Know the regulations and special concerns for the area you are visiting. Prepare for extreme weather and emergencies. Schedule your trip to avoid times of high use. All you need is your smart phone. Use a map and compass to eliminate the use of marking paint, rock cairns or flagging. Travel and Camp on Durable Surfaces Good campsites are found, not made. In popular areas concentrate use on existing trails and campsites. The entire city is a durable surface. Camping overnight is not recommended, unless you have a thing for cardboard boxes. Keep campsites small. Focus on activity in areas where vegetation is absent. In pristine areas, disperse to prevent the creations of campsites and trails. Dispose of Waste Properly Pack it in, pack it out. Deposit solid human waste in catholes dug six to eight inches deep at least 200 feet from water, camp, and trails. Do not deposit solid human waste in the city. It is illegal and you will get arrested. Find a Starbucks, use the restroom. Cover and disguise the cathole when finished.

Leave What You Find Preserve the past: examine but do not touch, cultural or historic structures and artifacts. Leave rocks, plants and other natural objects as you find them. Take what you find, it’s probably trash. Avoid introducing or transporting non-native species. Minimize Campfire Impacts Campfires can cause lasting impacts to the backcountry. Where fires are permitted, use established fire rings, fire pans, or mound fires. Build fires only in trash barrels in sketchy underpasses. Keep fires small, use only sticks from the ground that can be broken by hand. Respect Wildlife Observe wildlife from a distance, do not follow or approach them. Never feed animals. Feeding wildlife damages their health, alters natural behaviors and exposes them to predators and other dangers. Do not feed the tourists. Protect wildlife and your food by storing rations and trash securely.


both nature and the city are very strange places. they are polar opposites, but just as easy to get lost in and equally isolating. they can make you feel tiny.

eat your way through the city.
Enjoy your culinary trek.
The good news about eating while urban hiking– you don’t have to pack anything to eat at all if you don’t want to carry extra weight. Strategically plan your route so that restaurants, cafés, food carts, vending machines, dumpsters and gas stations are located at points in your journey when you know you will be hungry.

the art of the dumpster.
foraging in the world of steel and concrete.
You can take your hike to the next level and live like a true hunter-gatherer. NOLS would be proud. Learn the art of the dumpster dive. It’s not as sketchy as it sounds if you follow a few guidelines. • Stay away from hospital dumpsters. • Avoid meat and any animal products. • Befriend employees of bakeries and pizza joints. Grab the leftovers as they close. • Hit up Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s. • Never say no to a good lookin’ bagel. • Have a friend keep watch while you peruse the selections. Sometimes diving is equivalent with trespassing, although you won’t know it until it’s too late... • Never actually get inside the dumpster. Ever. • Watch out for wildlife, specifically raccoons, rats, possums, bees, spiders, possums, alley cats and rabid dogs. • If it looks good and smells okay, eat it. • Don’t tell your mother..

So you can’t afford a trek in Tibet. Australia’s just too far away for a day trip. You live in the flat lands but crave elevation. Add a little regional spice to your hike by dining at a restaurant serving regional cuisine. Below are some suggested culinary destinations. 1. For the mountain lover, anyplace with that rugged feel, serving lots of meat-and-potato type fare. Suggestion: Outback Steakhouse. 2. Can’t make it to Baja for the weekend? Crave the hot sun of the desert trek? Visit Baja Fresh. Get the Diablo Shrimp Burrito. 3. Want to hike the Appalachian Trail barefoot in the same tie-dye that you wore at Bonnaroo (three years in a row)? Find your local vegan joint. 4. For any international craving, there should be plenty of restaurants in the city that will cater to your needs, from Ethiopian to Chinese, the city can usually off a diverse list for your destination dining needs.


this is the playlist page.
Rock this city...
One advantage of being in the urban environment is having access to technology and electricity. Grab the iPod, the headphones and one of these awesome playlists and choose to either tune into your environment or tune out entirely. If you’re seeking that solitude that only the most isolated backcountry can provide, try hiking with earplugs.

into the wild.
You’ve had enough of the city life. The noise, the smells, the trash, dirt, grit and grime. You want a pristine experience, even if it’s all aural. The following tracks will put a little Zen into your steps.

themed shuffle.
Do you ever feel like your life is a movie? As if there should be a swelling soundtrack backing up your every move? What better way to spend a day hiking than to spend it hiking with a most excellent soundtrack in the background. Or maybe you want to feel the dirty grime of the city. Choose some hip-hop or rap. Buy some local mix tapes off the street and support a struggling artist. Put a little bounce in your step. If you know where you are going to hike, and have the time and energy, put together a themed playlist based on your location. Maybe it’s made of all local musicians, maybe it’s a list of songs about that particular place. Customize it to your trip, grab those headphones, hit shuffle, and immerse yourself in your newfound culture. You can even pick up new music along the way by visiting those off-the-beaten-path record shops you’ve been meaning to check out but never had the time. That’s another perk of the urban wild. You won’t find that in the woods.

1. John Butler Trio “Ocean” 2. Nervous But Excited “Lake Erie Late Summer” 3. Pinback “Seville 4. Xavier Rudd “Better People” 5. Widespread Panic “Drums” 6. Tristeza “Bromas” 7. Toubab Krewe “Asheville to Abidjan” 8. Sunny Day Real Estate “Faces in Disguise” 9. Rusted Root “Drum Trip” 10. Rodrigo y Gabriela “Stairway to Heaven” 11. Phoenix “Love Like a Sunset” 12. Ludovico Enaudi “Eden Rock” 13. The Album Leaf “Eastern Glow

channeling the city.
Want to embrace the concrete jungle, assimilate with your surroundings and listen like the natives? This playlist will make you feel right at home. You’ve got two feet for walking and you’re going to paint the town red. Just remember, nobody walks in L.A.

1. Berlin “The Metro” 2. Black Eyed Peas “Electric City” 3. Electric 6 “Down at McDonelzz” 4. Kiss “Detroit Rock City” 5. U2 “City of Blinding Lights” 6. Snow Patrol “Take Back the City” 7. Arcade Fire “City With no Children” 8. Ryan Adams “City Rain, City Streets” 9. Fleetwood Mac “The City” 10. Bear Naked Ladies “Hello City” 11. Ryan Montbleau “The City” 12. Madness “In The City” 13. Pete Francis “Sandcastle City”


it’s a jungle out there.
Don’t feed the animals.
Who says there’s no room left in the city for wild, savage beasts? Just like you’d find a different ecosystem in Alaska compared to Costa Rica, the city is just another cycle of predator vs. prey, plants and animals, fight or flight and kill or be killed. Think of it as Mother Nature’s newest habitat, with so many different species and creatures to be discovered. Besides, you never know when that giant alligator will escape from the city zoo and camp out in the drainage ditch next to the bus stop. You’ve seen them before. They travel in large packs, ravaging anything that stands in their way. They’ve been spotted in every city around the world. They’re completely unpredictable and have been known to appear out of nowhere, making even the easiest and safest trails some of the most deadly places on earth... not to mention they can completely upend a public transit system in a mere matter of minutes. Beware: the tourist. Best avoided altogether, most times it is inevitable that you will cross their path. If and when you should encounter a pack of tourists, DO NOT MAKE EYE CONTACT. And never, ever, ask them where they are from. They will give you an earful that will set you back a good hour of trail time, most likely in a backwoods accent that you will strain a muscles trying to decipher. If they begin to surround you, never bribe them with food, especially if they are travelling with children. Chances are, you won’t have enough to feed all the young and will be left to fend for yourself against a screaming pack of sweaty, slimy children. It has been speculated that the structure of the entire herd is often based on the males and females in the two to three year age range. It’s a dangerous world out there, but keeping a keen eye will help you avoid any unwanted and potentially lethal encounters.

beware of the tourist.



you’ve made it out alive.

Have a beer.

You’re finally back at home after a long enduring day on the trail. Your roommates think you are a little strange for hiking across the entire city in one day, but you are exhausted and satisfied and could care less. This calls for some celebrating and reflection.

Your day had a beginning, and it had an end. But it was really about the journey in between. From point A to point B, what happened in the middle? If you walked that same route again tomorrow, it would be a totally different experience. It has probably altered your life in some small way, maybe you won’t discover it until later. If you’ve made it this far, you have avoided all the perils and pitfalls of the city. Maybe you came home bleeding, for sure exhausted, and you might wake up in a day or so a little sore in places you are not used to. But it feels good. It feels good to use your body, to depend only on your own two feet, and take the time to experience the city on foot. It’s a

different world when you remove yourself from the rush of the daily commute and slow down to really take in the small things. The actual terrain of the city holds more weight when you are moving about at ground level. Small things matter more and the big heavy stuff slowly fades away. Crack open that celebratory beverage you’ve had chilling in your fridge. Grab your camera and peruse your photos from the day. Kick back with your feet up and relax. Pat yourself on the back, and start planning your next excursion. There are so many cities out there to hike. It’s a wild, wild, world. Take a shower, you smell horrible.


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