Interview with Regina Baker
Regina Baker is the founder of Back Roads and Pine Trees, a “do-it-yourself guide to accessing the great outdoors from New York City.” Raised in a rural environment, Regina missed easy access to hiking, backpacking and camping when she moved to NYC. The more she learned, though, the more she realized that it is possible to live in the most populated city in the United States and still get outside. She created Back Roads and Pine Trees to inspire others to do the same.
Learn more in Regina’s interview, after the jump.
Photos above and below (C) 2015 Keith Morrison
What inspired you to create Backroads and Pine Trees?
Ever since I started sharing my weekend trips on social media, it became apparent how many New Yorkers were itching to get out into nature, but just not sure where to begin. I wanted to create something that was accessible, inspiring, personal, and not too intimidating to help guide New Yorkers to the outdoors. The New York Metro area is fairly centrally located and allows access to the Hudson Highlands, Catskills, Jersey Highlands, and even the Adirondacks. It’s a shame to not go out and discover these incredible parks, especially when public transportation makes it so convenient to do so.
Have you met any “country” transplants since moving to NYC?
I’ve met a handful, and you can’t help but feel instantly connected to those that come from a similar background and share similar values. I’ve taken for granted being raised in an environment where sitting around a campfire past dark was just a typical Friday night. Although the urban lifestyle is still an adjustment, it’s refreshing to know there are others like you amidst the crowds.
What do you believe are the benefits of balancing city time with the great outdoors?
Living in New York City can tend to make one feel trapped and it’s difficult to find an outlet or moment to yourself, and most importantly: fresh air and nature. Escaping to something so natural and vast can put things back into perspective and help to reset. The more places I go, the more people I meet, and the more I learn what’s right outside the city… the adventure never really ends.
Getting out to the mountains is a good way to boost your heart rate in a different way. There’s this excerpt from “Waging Heavy Peace” by Neil Young which has resonated with me: “The moon means a lot to me, as does the forest. All things natural speak to me with a rhythm that I feel. There is no evil in the forest or the moon. Or if there is, I don’t see it.” That’s a pretty accurate description of what the woods mean to me, I’ve never regretted a day on the trail.
What’s the most common misperception about accessing landscape from an urban area like NYC?
The most common misperception is that you need to have a car. That’s what originally frustrated me when I first moved to the city. You really don’t need to look far to discover the many public transit routes that stop either directly at a trail-head or close by. It’s pretty incredible the places you can go with a little cash and your own two feet.
What trips are you most looking forward to?
The best way to get through the Winter months is to embrace it, and plan outings to keep the energy high. February will be a special month as I’m collaborating with a good friend to present a Girls Only Trail Run along the Appalachian Trail, and traveling out West for the first time to Portland, Oregon. I’m also looking forward to heading back to the Adirondacks and Catskills to hike a few peaks in early Spring.
Interview by Gale Straub