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An Extreme City Day Hike – My First Blister


While this pales in comparison to other important personal milestones such as "my first gray hair", "my first speeding ticket", "my first wife."  This is when I got my first blister  … and didn't even leave my home town.

It was 30 miles total in about 10 hours of "extreme sidewalk day hiking" (Pt Loma to Poway) that finally did me in. This was my 4th extreme day hike of this type a few years ago within the San Diego and adjoining communities.  The hot spots on my foot were obvious after 20 miles but, being an idiot, I didn’t stop or apply anything. Slight foot movement due to loose shoe lacing on the trail running shoes probably caused it. Lesson learned: Tighten the laces even on level ground, and fix the hot spots immediately.

The insidious problem with a germinating blister - a hot spot - is it is easy to ignore because the pain is not bad at first.  By the time it becomes painfully obvious, not much will help and the blister is often beyond repair; you will be suffering through the remainder of the hike and, most likely, for several days later.  Here is a forum that talks ad nauseam about blister prevention and care detailing many possible cause and solutions.

Enough of the blister talk. Being easily entertained, I find this extreme hike from home activity fascinating. While this is not exactly a walk on the wild side, hiking (I guess its called walking when you are on concrete) from your home saves all the travel logistics of getting to and from the trailhead. No question about it … real hikers do the Sierras, the Rockies, the Appalachians, the Alps, the Himalayan’s, the Andes, and all the other nature-blessed points in between. Planning and executing a day trek from your home, however, can be a good substitute while you await the real thing.


1.  Route - Select a route to minimize car exposure and maximize the scenic beauty of your locale. If you don’t have scenic beauty find something else that’s interesting. San Diego is a perfect place for an extended city walk due to its hills and canyons, the Pacific Ocean, two bays (Mission Bay and San Diego Bay). For the ultimate hike planning, drive it first to discern the safest and most interesting route.

2.  Timing - Start out before sunrise Sunday morning to avoid traffic, at least for the first few hours.

3.  Safety - For a more quiet and safe walk, stay off main thoroughfares, even ones with sidewalks. Absolutely stay off main roads with no walking paths … it’s hazardous enough for bicyclists, but pedestrians (not sure I like being called a pedestrian while hiking) are at an even higher risk. It’s fun to find shortcuts through canyons, parking lots, over fences, and other paths accessible only by walking.  

4.  Equipment - Assuming you are in a typical community with a McDonalds and Starbucks every 800 feet, the Sierra Club's ten essentials are not needed, except for the sunglasses. Also going light allows you to blend in with the normal people who are walking or running short distances. If people find out how far you are going, words like "crazy", "nuts", and a "walking Forrest Gump",  will be directed towards you.

5.  One-way Hike - If you can arrange a ride back by private car or public transportation you can go longer one-way and not be bored with backtracking. And best of all, an extreme hike-from-home results not only in an interesting adventure, but you return to your own bed and familiar indoor plumbing.

On this blistered-walk, I strolled the length of the Pt Loma peninsula in pre-dawn hours, joined the joggers at sunrise along the east side of Mission Bay, was passed by bikers along a dedicated trail parallel to Interstate 5, navigated the innumerable upscale condo complexes of La Jolla’s Golden Triangle, traversed an the empty University Towne Center shopping center, took the pulse of the local economy represented in the Miramar industrial parks, moved quickly through the bedroom communities of Mira Mesa and Penasquitos, passed in the shadow of Black Mountain, and then shortly connected with my ride home. It was fun seeing a variety of communities in a slow, continuous mode … like a curious cat exploring a new environment.

Has anyone else done this sort of thing? Post your own extreme city trek experiences on the Forum


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