Great Saunter 2023

New York, NY, USA

Walkers in tutus

Participants in the Shorewalkers’ Great Saunter wearing tutus

New York, NY, USA

Last year, the weather during the Shorewalkers’ Great Saunter was unspeakably vile: an icy wind and driving rain throughout much of the day. I got as far as Inwood Hill Park, the half-way point of the route, before deciding to call it a day.

This year couldn’t have been more different. The weather was bright and sunny, without a drop of rain or a breath of wind. “I’m glad it’s not one degree warmer,” one of my fellow walkers observed, ”but this is perfect.”

The route has undergone minor variations over the years, in response to changing conditions. The lovely Edgecombe Avenue in Washington Heights, which so amazed me the first time I saw it, is now an apparently fixed part of the route, despite being more than a third of a mile from the shore that the route is nominally supposed to follow. And the depredations of the East Side Coastal Resiliency Project mean that only the fragment of East River Park that remains open is still included.

For the first time in a few years, I walked the complete route. Changes in the route have stretched the total distance from the nominal thirty-two miles to something closer to thirty-three (or, according to Strava, thirty-four). But the Shorewalkers continue to run the whole hike with their usual efficiency, and my feet and legs hurt just as much afterward as they ever did. Some things, at least, haven’t changed.