This article appeared in the September 03, 2020 edition of the Monitor Daily.

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Backpacking in the Big Apple

Mark Lennihan/AP
A woman jogs past a banner by artist Yoko Ono at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Aug. 20, 2020, in New York. Ms. Ono's two banners on the front of the museum say "Dream Together."

This summer, Jessica McKenzie and her boyfriend set off on a backpacking trip with a different kind of scenery: New York City. Skyscrapers supplanted mountains, a gushing hotel shower replaced waterfalls, and a polluted federal Superfund site revealed some urban wildlife to the pair. 

Facing travel restrictions due to the pandemic, adventures this year have been put on hold for many people. But some have found innovative ways to adapt. 

“I wondered,” Ms. McKenzie, a journalist, writes for, “what would happen if I took to heart the advice to recreate right in my backyard?”

The trek she designed traversed all five boroughs of New York entirely on foot, save for the ferry to Staten Island. During the couple’s nearly 40-mile, two-day hike, they met another backpacker stymied by the pandemic: a man who had been set to walk the famous Camino de Santiago in Spain. In place of his original plan, he was walking the streets of Queens with a backpack full of books. (I highly recommend reading Ms. McKenzie’s own account of her adventure on

Not everyone’s city adventures have been so grand. Many city dwellers have been exploring new parks or discovering other nooks and crannies in their neighborhoods that they never knew existed. In general, we’re just slowing down and noticing little things more. As wanderlust has struck this year, it’s also drawn out a creativity in many backyard adventurers.

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This article appeared in the September 03, 2020 edition of the Monitor Daily.

Read 09/03 edition
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