Walking Distance #03 | Nicholas Kristof

In this episode of Walking Distance presented by The Trek and hosted by Blissful Hiker (Alison Young), we are joined by Nicholas Kristof, an award winning columnist at the New York Times and dedicated section hiker. Nicholas has won two Pulitzer prizes for his coverage of China and the genocide in Darfur, and section hiked the PCT with his daughter Caroline over a few summers. Now, he’s working on section hiking the Pacific Northwest Trail, hiking with his wife, their daughter, and her boyfriend. 

Blissful Hiker covers the benefits and drawbacks of section hiking versus thru-hiking, how to plan hikes and stay in shape while working a job, and hiking with others.

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Interview with Nicholas Kristof

4:02 – When and how did you get involved in backpacking?

4:52 – What’s your relationship like with Caroline, your daughter? You section hiked the PCT together over several summers when she was a teenager.

6:33- Did you give yourself trail names, or were they given?

7:03 – You section hiked the PCT, and I wanted to talk about the difference between thru-hiking and section hiking. What are the advantages and disadvantages?

9:10 – I found it interesting that you pushed yourself so hard while on the trail, even though it was your vacation time.

10:54 – I’m curious about ultralight, have you always been ultralight?

12:01 – How do you plan your trips, itinerary and resupply, and stay in hiking shape while you’re in your “normal life” working?

14:17 – Background of ultralight origins before the mainstream movement

17:00 – You’ve been to many countries in precarious situations while working at the New York Times, so I assume you feel no fear on the trail.

17:48 – Would you describe your backpacking experiences as diversions, vacation, or even therapy?

19:16 – The pandemic has changed our relationship with the outdoors, with more use of our trails. Do you think it’s a good thing?

20:45 – You mention your “summer place” as a spot on Mount Hood.

21:15 – If you could share one thing with someone considering giving backpacking a try, what would you say?

Get all of the Walking Distance Podcast episodes.

Mentioned in this episode:

Nicholas Kristof – NYT columns

Nicholas Kristof – Backpacker Magazine

Nicholas Kristof on Facebook

Bureau of Land Management

U.S. Department of Agriculture

About Alison Young

Alison Young, aka Blissful Hiker, is a former host and producer at American Public Media and professional flutist. She’s thru-hiked New Zealand’s Te Araroa and the Pacific Crest Trail, as well as long trails in South America, South Africa, Europe, Pakistan and all over the US. In her podcast The Pee Rag she shares personal essays from the trail along with collected sound. Her goal in life is to hike until she drops.

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Comments 2

  • Jack DeAngelis : Apr 1st

    Nicolas Kristof is my favorite NYT columnist, I had no idea he was also a hiker. We occasionally do trail magic on the PCT. What a thrill it would be (or would have been!) if Kristof walked up on our spread. I really enjoyed this podcast, thanks.


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