Welcome friends, family, and anyone who happens to stumble upon this blog. I’m Sam, and this summer, I am going to take an extremely long walk. More precisely, as the title of this blog suggests, I am going to walk from New York City to Boston.
For those of you who have not yet heard that I’m doing this, I understand if you think this sounds crazy or even downright stupid. But let me attempt to convince you otherwise by providing the following details.
First of all, there is a plan, and a decent amount of thought has been put into it. For instance, this walk will be paced pretty modestly and span approximately twenty days. The idea is to walk from city to city during the day, wearing a hiking backpack for essentials like food, water, and clothing, and to use services like Airbnb to find places to rest during the night.
Now according to Google maps, an optimal walking route from New York City to Boston covers just over 200 miles of ground. But I will not be taking the most optimal route. Rather, I will be taking a route that brings me to interesting landmarks, restaurants, and places to stay. Each day’s total walking distance is expected to be between 10 and 20 miles.
Now let me explain the plan in more detail. The plan has two phases.
Phase 1: Preparation. The first thing I have done is find a list of twenty cities/towns to rest during the night, and they are each around 10 to 15 miles apart from each other. Google maps has been able to provide a walking route between each pair of adjacent cities.
The second thing I have done is order a backpack that is rainproof, and will hopefully be comfortable and large enough to carry everything I need. I plan to carry about four changes of clothes and do laundry frequently, at laundromats or, whenever possible, at the places I’m staying. I also plan to carry food and plenty of water, an umbrella, sunscreen, some toiletries, my iPad, chargers, portable batteries for charging my phone, and maybe a few other small things.
The next thing to do will be to carry out a couple of long “practice” walks here in New York with a fully packed backpack in order to try to discover any problems that may otherwise occur during the real walk.
Phase 2: The walk. Each day of the walk will be planned essentially the night before, and I want to try book places to stay only two days in advance. The reason I don’t want to reserve places to stay too far in advance is that there are a lot of things that could suddenly go wrong. For example, the weather may go bad one day, and I may need to stay an extra day in one place. Since I’m not booking places to stay far in advance, I cannot precisely plan the walks far in advance.
The first two places I plan to stay overnight are New Rochelle and Greenwich, respectively. Some time before the first day of the walk I will have booked a place to stay in New Rochelle during the first night and (hopefully) also Greenwich the second night. So the night before I embark I will find a path to my destination in New Rochelle using Google maps. I’ll to do a little research into whether there are areas to be avoided, like “bad” neighborhoods. The streetview capabilities on Google maps might help with this. I’ll also do a little research into areas that should not be avoided, like interesting landmarks. Stops for food will probably be done somewhat spontaneously during the walk, and again there are apps on my phone which can be used to figure out where to go. If I have not booked a place to stay in Greenwich by the morning of the first day, I’ll try to do that as quickly as possible, before or during the walk.
Once I’m in New Rochelle for the night, it will be time to book a place to stay for the third night (which will be in Norwalk, according to my current plan). Then I’ll plan my walk for the second day (to Greenwich), and I’ll go to bed, wake up, and continue. Eventually, after about three weeks, I’ll make it to Boston, hang out there for a few days, and then come back.
Here are some frequently asked questions.
Answer: Excellent question. Well, I really enjoy walking, especially while listening to music. These days I’ll walk anywhere between 70 and 100 miles a week. I started walking a lot during July of last year, when I embarked on a (quite successful) journey to lose a lot of weight. Then at some point in February I was walking in the park and thought to myself: “What if I just did this in order to actually go somewhere?” The details associated with this idea eventually came together, and here we are.
Question: Will you walk back?
Answer: No, I’ll just take a bus.
Question: Why Boston?
Answer: Because I like it there.
Question: But you’re going to a conference there in June already. Why not just walk there?
Answer: That’s true, I’ll be attending a math conference at Harvard which starts on June 4. But that only gives me two weeks from today to get there, and the plan is to use closer to three weeks. I also didn’t start earlier because school was in session, and then I was on vacation. So I’ll just go to the Boston area again. Like I said, I like it there.
Question: What will you do in Boston?
Answer: Whatever, we’ll see. Maybe this year’s PROMYS counselors will want to hear a talk on Iwasawa theory or something (hint hint).
Here are some questions I anticipate.
Question: Will you actually start at La Guardia and end at Logan Airport?
Answer: No, actually I’ll start from my home in Manhattan and end at a family friend’s house close to Boston. “LGA to BOS” just makes for a fun blog title.
Question: What’s the purpose of this blog, specifically?
Answer: The purpose is to make a record of this walk. During the walk, I’ll be updating this blog (hopefully) every day with details about each day’s segment, including interesting things that happened, notes on meals, things that went right or wrong, or even just things I was thinking about during that day. (After all, I’ll have plenty of time for thinking.)
Question: Why should I care?
Answer: You don’t have to care, but enough people have already expressed interest to make this blog seem like a good idea. In any case, I want a record for myself, if not for anyone else.
Question: Who even are you?
Answer: I’m a graduate student studying math at Columbia, and I feel like doing something that’s both interesting and non-mathematical for once.
Question: What is the list of cities where you’ll be staying?
Answer: The following is my extremely tentative list of cities where I will rest at night, with the distance in miles (according to Google maps) between each city and the previous one in parentheses:
1. New Rochelle (13)
2. Greenwich (12)
3. Norwalk (14)
4. Fairfield (8.4)
5. Milford (13)
6. New Haven (9.3)
7. Wallingford (13)
8. Middletown (14)
9. Hartford (16)
10. Windsor Locks (13)
11. Longmeadow (11)
12. Ludlow (11)
13. Palmer (8.7)
14. Sturbridge (15)
15. Charlton (7.2)
16. Worcester (13)
17. Westborough (10)
18. Framingham (12)
19. Wellesley (6.8)
20. Boston (14)
(Google maps rounds off the decimal point of the distance if it is greater than 10 miles.)
Any other questions and comments are very welcome. I’ll check back eventually with more details later on.
I’ve received the following question since this was posted.
Answer: It has not been decided yet, but I will likely start the walk very soon after the conference mentioned above. Let’s say June 11 as a very tentative date, weather and preparation permitting.
(This post was originally made on May 20 on a slightly older version of this blog.)