Monday, January 19, 2015

After the Inman 300

It's been 3 days now since I completed the Inman 300. I took two days of rest and recuperation, during which I caught up on sleep, my online classes, laundry, grocery shopping and letting my mind wander. I needed time to let the logistical parts of my brain rest. In order to do this hike, I had to figure out busses each day to and from new locations, as my stopping points were different each day, and often our hotel location was as well. Reed & I managed to share a hotel, while we was working in the foothills near Irvine and I was hiking across Los Angeles proper. We tried, and mostly succeeded, in choosing hotels that would allow him to drive to and from work in about the same time that I bussed to and from my hike. That meant that we each spent about four hours per day on transportation.

My hours spent on public transportation allowed me time to figure out other logistics while en-route - like where the bathrooms and food would be located along my hiking route for the day. Reading Bob Inman's guide helped a great deal with this, and then I did additional research by looking on google maps, zooming in close on intersections or areas that looked like they might have a park or cafe. I tried to figure where I could guzzle water (when an available bathroom would be in the near future), and when I needed to grind through the miles in order to get back to services like bathrooms, grocery stores and cafes. Inman's guide provided an excellent overview to each section, so that I had an idea of what the overall day would entail, and what I would see within each subsection. I'm a person who likes to figure some things out for myself along the way, so his guide was just the right amount of information, and allowed me to feel elation when finding or coming upon a surprise treat - like a cart selling fresh sliced fruit in a bag one afternoon, and another, a cart selling cold whole coconuts for drinking their coconut water.

As I mentioned earlier, I slept off-route each night. I think it would be possible to stay in hotels and motels on-route at least half the time, especially if one had the finances and flexibility to alternate between levels of price and comfort. Some areas had inexpensive looking hotels that would have seemed like luxurious palaces on a long-distance hike, but might seem less that way to normal hotel-goers. In other areas, there were upscale hotels that likely would have cost quite a bit. If a person wanted to push through the route quickly, and was willing to vary their daily mileage totals, they would have more options for where to stay. My point is, although I didn't do this as a pure thru-hike, staying on route each night, I think that it's possible to do so.

In regards to food, this hike was quite different than the 210 mile John Muir Trail, or others hikes of comparable distances. Food was overall abundant, one of the benefits of urbanity. Each day I ate a big breakfast before getting on the bus, then brought along extra breakfast items to have as my second breakfast after getting on trail: yogurt, fruit, muffins. I often would buy a coffee or tea when transferring busses, or soon after arriving at the start of the day's route. This purchase would also buy me an opportunity to use the business' bathroom. In my pack, I carried along snack items and protein bars including my favorites, Cliff builder bars. This allowed me flexibility about where I would buy food during the day. I wanted to buy food along the route because I wanted what was offered, or because I needed a break or to fill up on water or use the bathroom. I didn't want to buy food simply because I needed it at the time and it was the only thing available. This policy allowed me to sample some of my favorite high calorie foods, that I can't usually eat: pizza, burritos, horchata, bubble tea, a rice crispy treat, and juice. I even ate sushi with a spoon one afternoon, while walking through a neighborhood. I find that having a few food items in my pack puts me at ease, because I know I can feed myself when I need to.

This hike was different in another major way: I carried a tiny day pack instead of my house on my back. My pack weighed roughly 3-7 pounds throughout the day, depending on how full my 1-quart water bottle was and how much food I was carrying at the time. It usually felt like I was carrying nothing on my back. In fact, I had a large number of items in my pack to help me through the day. Some of the items that I either carried in my pack, hands or pockets were: small sunscreen, extra phone battery (Anker) & cord, ear buds, emergency blanket, thermal shirt, thermal hat, lip balm, sun hat, food, trekking poles, first aid kit & pain relievers, headlamp, toilet paper and hand sanitizer, sunglasses, toothbrush & paste.

I'm excited about this route getting better known for how it can potentially start a whole new area of long-distance hiking. I love the idea of using our cities, and the transportation routes that they already have to explore. I love the way that walking, biking and running my city of Seattle has allowed me to know it in ways that I otherwise wouldn't. Urban hiking is so much more practical, over all, than wilderness hiking. One can launch right into it, without the requisite drive to a trail head. It's excellent exercise, especially when tremendous numbers of stairways are thrown in along the route! And it's possible to see one's city from a truly human pace and at eye level. I hope for urban hiking to continue to grow. I'd love to see more urban long-distance hiking routes created. I'm grateful to Bob Inman, Andrew Lichtman & Ying Chen for being the creators and first hikers of the Inman 300. They have inspired and encouraged me and many others to get out and see our cities.


  1. Thanks for documenting your days on the Inman 300. The details of your experience will be helpful for my planning.

    1. Bob ~ Thanks for your comment! It's encouraging to hear that my blog has been helpful to you. When are you planning to hike / run the Inman?