What Hiking Taught Me About Writing the Dissertation

It's March and it's snowing on top of the springtime buds (because March) and I'm getting that familiar itch telling me that it's time to go for another very long walk outside. Over the past two summers, I've completed two long section hikes (400 and 500 miles) of the Appalachian Trail (A.T.) and I'm ready … Continue reading What Hiking Taught Me About Writing the Dissertation

Walking Away from the Green Tunnel Still Singing to Bears

When I hit 500 miles last year I knew it'd be my last night on the trail if the next day was beautiful. I spotted a fox running through a blueberry patch on my way to camp, which I took as a sign it was time to leave -- one of my favorite passages of … Continue reading Walking Away from the Green Tunnel Still Singing to Bears

Self-Reliance and Interdependence in the Woods

I'm 700 miles into the Appalachian Trail (you can catch up on the journey here, here and here), and this year I've found some truly wonderful friends that have helped me get through rain and pain. I came out here last year and this year solo, looking to discover my "self" at the outer limits of my abilities, and … Continue reading Self-Reliance and Interdependence in the Woods

Spring Sound Recording at Walden

In the first week of May, a Walden park ranger confirmed over the phone that the birds had arrived and there were leaves on the trees. Ready to collect my next sound recordings for The Walden Soundscape project as soon as spring arrived in New York City where I live, I had been asking the … Continue reading Spring Sound Recording at Walden

The Walden Soundscape in Winter

A Project in the Making The Walden Soundscape is a project funded by a Graduate Center Provost's Digital Innovation Grant. It's my effort to share the sounds at Walden Pond with any interested reader of Henry David Thoreau’s Walden in the form of an immersive website experience. I’m recording sounds at the pond in all four seasons, … Continue reading The Walden Soundscape in Winter

Reading American Romanticism with Students after the Election

"What is wanted is men, not of policy, but of probity--who recognize a higher law than the Constitution, or the decision of the majority. The fate of the country does not depend on how you vote at the polls--the worst man is as strong as the best at that game; it does not depend on … Continue reading Reading American Romanticism with Students after the Election

Music as Thinking: Going Back to the Trail with William James

Coming back to New York City after hiking 500 miles in "the green tunnel" of the Appalachian Trail was extremely difficult. I was cranky even at my best, and felt guilty for having been out of touch with my loved ones for so long. It was as if we had been in Narnia, Moose would say, … Continue reading Music as Thinking: Going Back to the Trail with William James

Hiking Like a Woman

Twenty-five percent of thru-hikers on the Appalachian Trail are women, and, let me tell you, these are hardcore women who take after the Mary Rowlandsons and Hannah Dustans of America. Before I reached the 100-mile mark, however, I had already heard several hikers use the phrase, "I'm going to take this mountain like a man," … Continue reading Hiking Like a Woman

“Leave No Trace”: When American Transcendentalism Leads to Wilderness Preservation

Having hiked over 500 miles of the Appalachian Trail this summer, dutifully carrying a copy of Thoreau's writings with me, there are certain habits I've cultivated with a now-ingrained daily routine that I'll take with me off the trail. The "Leave No Trace" policy of American hiker culture is what keeps the Appalachian Trail special for everyone … Continue reading “Leave No Trace”: When American Transcendentalism Leads to Wilderness Preservation

Losing a Wild Soundscape 

Hiking the Appalachian Trail this summer has been a musical experience beyond anything I could have predicted. I've now hiked over 300 miles along the state line of North Carolina and Tennessee, arriving in Virginia yesterday just in time for the shocking gun-like echo of fireworks. Before I get to that, let me share with … Continue reading Losing a Wild Soundscape