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  1. #1
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    Default When Does a Thru Hike Become a Slave to the Trail Journals

    A question for other long distance hikers who have kept Trail Journals ...

    a. Did you ever begin to feel pressured on your hike.... to do a Trail Journal (or other Trail Journal-like social media) ?

    b. If yes, why were you feeling that pressure?
    (1) Family and friends requesting updates
    (2) Your online "fans" posting comments
    (3) Putting pressure on yourself to maintain an "interesting" or "entertaining" Trail Journal, with lots of pics

    I'm curious, because I've met many hikers on the AT who talk about feeling pressured to entertain their TJ or Facebook "fans" or "friends", to post interesting TJ or FB entries, and pressure to hike higher miles each day, as if the hike is a race, and the hiker feels a need to impress others on how many miles they are cranking out. Then I've seen this on some journals post-hike, where numerous TJ entries give the impression the hiker was doing the hike for the Journal and misses the daily diary entries and fan following. Not knocking these folks, cuz many of these Journals are filled with helpful info to fellow hikers.

    I'm wondering if other hikers have felt this, or encountered this, and their reaction. I have decided to not do any Trail Journals for next year's AT hike, too much work & hassle, and I want to experience the hike absent any social media.
    Last edited by Praha4; 12-02-2014 at 20:24.

  2. #2
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    I never felt pressured to do it, but felt like I should, even typing while hiking (is that illegal yet?). But had to send a message or 2 in response to we haven't heard from you in a while, were you eaten by a bear.

  3. #3
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    When we get comfortable with who we individually are expressing ourselves there's less need to feel we must entertain someone else unless we're in show biz. Too many people want to live vicariously through someone else's life because they are not comfortable with their own.

    I aim to inspire and be inspired - to let others find comfort in their own lives and find greater comfort in my own.

  4. #4
    Registered User ScottTrip's Avatar
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    I did it the old fashioned way, I kept a notebook journal using paper and pen. I did write just about everyday, then would update a Facebook page when in town.

  5. #5
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    I have written a non hiking blog/website in the past and know how all consuming it can be. When I got back into hiking after many years in an office, I started a hiking blog but quickly felt the pressure to write (even though I gad hardly any readers) so I stopped. I now keep an old fashioned notebook for a trail journal that I write only for myself.

  6. #6
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Praha4 View Post
    A question for other long distance hikers who have kept Trail Journals ...

    a. Did you ever begin to feel pressured on your hike.... to do a Trail Journal (or other Trail Journal-like social media) ?

    b. If yes, why were you feeling that pressure?
    (1) Family and friends requesting updates
    (2) Your online "fans" posting comments
    (3) Putting pressure on yourself to maintain an "interesting" or "entertaining" Trail Journal, with lots of pics

    I'm curious, because I've met many hikers on the AT who talk about feeling pressured to entertain their TJ or Facebook "fans" or "friends", to post interesting TJ or FB entries, and pressure to hike higher miles each day, as if the hike is a race, and the hiker feels a need to impress others on how many miles they are cranking out. Then I've seen this on some journals post-hike, where numerous TJ entries give the impression the hiker was doing the hike for the Journal and misses the daily diary entries and fan following. Not knocking these folks, cuz many of these Journals are filled with helpful info to fellow hikers.

    I'm wondering if other hikers have felt this, or encountered this, and their reaction. I have decided to not do any Trail Journals for next year's AT hike, too much work & hassle, and I want to experience the hike absent any social media.
    on my first hike in 86 i tried to keep a written journal. lasted 5 days. too much of a chore.

  7. #7

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    I gave up on keeping a Trail Journal. Never had anything profound to say and no one cared about the drivel I did write. But if your a good writer and can make a mundane and boring day sound interesting, that as they say "is a different story".
    Follow slogoen on Instagram.

  8. #8
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    This will be a good place for my 2000th post.

    Keeping a daily journal is a big commitment while being on trail especially if you hike long days. 2011 was a huge snow year on the PCt and coming out the Sierra I found myself near the front of the pack. Since I kept a daily journal I had quite a few hikers and families of hikers using my journal as a beta for trail conditions. This added a bit of a slave component because I knew that people were counting on my for these updates. by the mid-point that pressure was off and I spent quite of bit of hiking time thinking about today's theme or what was important. but I am so glad I took the time to do the journal and post additional pictures of the trip because I can go back and reference where I stayed and partially relive the trip.

  9. #9

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    Im in awe of people that do, and do good job. I tried to write up a short hike one time for my own benefit. Gave up after 5 pages and still on day 1. Decided it wasnt that important to me. No time to write a book.

  10. #10

    Default

    Since I'm always carrying my smartphone, I use a voice recorder app to record an audio journal. Sometimes I dictate it while walking and in the background, you can hear my poles clicking, streams flowing, ragged breathing, etc. Listening to them really brings me back to the trail. I keep telling myself that I'm going to type them up.....
    Go afield with a good attitude, with respect for the wildlife you hunt, and the forest and field in which you walk. Immerse yourself in the outdoor experience. It will cleanse your soul.--Fred Bear

    www.misadventuregear.com

  11. #11

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    I have never kept a journal. I do not have a "trail name".

    I am not "into" the social aspect of backpacking, at all.

    I like wilderness: Even if only a small place. I like a place that has never been logged. I like a roadless wilderness. I like seeing no one, at all. I like to see the world unmodified by mankind. I like to breathe that air. I like to be there.

    I hike. I backpack. I kayak. I find that, and, I am there.

    I share that experience, by helping others get out there.

  12. #12

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    I kept a pen and paper journal on all my hikes. I loved taking time every day to write what happened and how I felt about what happened. I did this for me, not for anyone else. A lot of the detail gets lost, when you don't write it down. A lot of the days just blend together in your memory. I like going back and rereading and remembering what the trail was like and how my hike was going. For my later hikes, I put the journals out on the web because at the time (2000) there weren't many journals available that described what the CDT, PCT and GDT were like. We hiked the CDT just when trailjournals was starting out. I never put my AT hike on the web because there were plenty of books and journals online so my story wasn't necessary. I wouldn't do a realtime journal, because then I would be writing for others, not for myself. It is a lot of pressure. What we did do was send weekly updates for friends and family, so they knew that we were still hiking. Those updates just had the highlights, and probably about as much detail as most non-hikers could handle. Even then, it was sometimes a hassle trying to find an open library with internet so we could send our updates. Small towns often have limited library hours.

  13. #13
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    I have not taken a long enough hike to do a trail journal. But I have written travel logs / travel journals for vacations I have taken. They were short enough trips that I would write the narrative from memory after the trip was over, rather than writing while traveling. I really enjoyed reflecting on the trip after the fact. Also, I was finding that I quickly forgot little details about the trip and the process of recalling them and getting them down in writing helped me remember things. Thus, I wasn't really writing for someone else. I was doing it for my own enjoyment and benefit.

  14. #14

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    Quote Originally Posted by Lone Wolf View Post
    on my first hike in 86 i tried to keep a written journal. lasted 5 days. too much of a chore.
    Ha, well you made it four more days than me.

    How many monkey butlers will there be?

    One at first. But he'll train others.

  15. #15
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    Keeping the journal serves all of the purposes mentioned above, but it is a pain. For me, I was pressuring myself to keep one because I know how days blur together and I wanted something to have to look back at. I also knew that friends and family were following diligently. I consider the pressure I felt to be positive, because in the end my trail journal is more valuable to me than any photo album.

    As far as difficulty in maintaining the journal goes, it really matters how you go about it logistically. For the AT I brought along a small keyboard and paired it with my dumb smart phone, and although this sounds excessively techy, it's really a simple set up and drops your journal writing/transcribing/posting time by at least 50%. The last trip I took (only about a week long) I used pen and paper and later on I typed and posted it, and this took so much time I almost quit.

  16. #16
    Digger takethisbread's Avatar
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    I felt I was a slave to it almost immediately. Stopped doing it almost immediately. Took lots of pictures and I texted friends and family. That's how I kept connected.


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
    YOUTUBE: https://m.youtube.com/channel/UCMDkRcGP1yP20SOD-oiSGcQ
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    AT 2x, LT, JMT, CT, Camino, Ireland Coast to Coast, HWT, WT, NET, NST, PCT

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by Connie View Post
    I have never kept a journal. I do not have a "trail name".

    I am not "into" the social aspect of backpacking, at all.

    I like wilderness: Even if only a small place. I like a place that has never been logged. I like a roadless wilderness. I like seeing no one, at all. I like to see the world unmodified by mankind. I like to breathe that air. I like to be there.

    I hike. I backpack. I kayak. I find that, and, I am there.

    I share that experience, by helping others get out there.
    +1


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

  18. #18

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    For twenty years, I kept a pencil journal when hiking, but when I attempted a thru-hike in 2013, I made daily entries to a TrailJournal, usually making the entry to Notes and then cutting and pasting it into the journal when I was in town. I also posted a daily photo. I had great feedback, and that was nice, but if I had hiked much longer, I think I would have abandoned the journal. It's the same problem I have with cameras. I find myself viewing my own experience through a viewfinder and instead of just living in the moment. I would ask myself the question of what was the "key" experience of the day, forcing a level of analysis that I find incompatible with why I hike. I will continue to use Notes this year for my private journal, mostly so it will be backed up to the Cloud. I lost my paper notebooks in a house fire a few years ago so I want the backup.

  19. #19
    Garlic
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    I met that guy! He was stressing about getting to a motel room to upload photos and journal data and recharge all the devices. Later, I just had to look up his blog (he was very proud of it). It was pretty lousy--full of typos, poor grammar--and only had a few hits. Gadgets don't make you a good writer or photographer. The blog and devices were definitely controlling his trip, and I was thankful I wasn't in that trap.

    I've kept on-line journals, but not real-time--written notes uploaded when I find a public computer--boring things with no photos. A week or more delay in posting just heightens the suspense.

    I've gotten lots of benefits from keeping a journal and I understand the compulsion, but I agree it can go too far.
    "Throw a loaf of bread and a pound of tea in an old sack and jump over the back fence." John Muir on expedition planning

  20. #20
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    I would add that Facebook can now be a leash as well if updates are expected by friends and family. I get around this by setting up my SPOT to post to Facebook for a limited distribution (people who actually might want to know the track of my trip) and I usually post a very brief update at a resupply stop along with a couple of photos that I've taken over the past few days. Keep the expectations modest and people will be happy with periodic informal updates. Write an essay every day for the first couple of weeks and then when the posting drops off, readers will be disappointed and/or worried.

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