Keeping track

13 days from now I’ll be taking my first steps on the approach trail. Most things are as ready as they can be AND there’s not much time left to make any drastic changes, so I fill the remaining time mostly just enjoying the family, friends and comforts of home. The 1-mostly time gets stuffed with little micro prep tasks / decisions. Things that might need to get done, it’s OK if they don’t and they can shrink or expand to fill the time I want to give them. Things like getting fuel for my stove (I can get that at the check in if I don’t get it before), mapping out a few more days in FarOut (I need to resist this one actually – only want 7 to 10 days roughly planned when I start), or how to keep track of the day to day.

I’d like to journal while I’m on trail. I’ve read all the pre and post hike reports of people with exactly the same intention that end up ditching their journal a few weeks or even days in. I’d like to journal for the benefit of both the experiencing me (so I can note and process what I’m experiencing as I go) and the remembering me (so I can look back over the totality of the trip and see what I might have learned). So the decision to journal (at least to try at the start) is made. The decision still up in the air is how to journal.

The easy option is to use the new Jornal app in iOS. It makes it easy since it pulls in any pics and locations from the day. It also adds no additional weight to my pack. There are at least two downsides to this approach though. First it’s just “bits in the cloud” vs something that’s real in the world. It might be a bit of clinging to the “real”, but it seems there will be so little that’s tangible after my hike, so having this one artifact seems important to me. Second, I find that writing is different than typing in terms of where it takes me / what it lets me find the words to express. I think a paper journal will be a more complete exploration and documentation of my experience than a digital one.

The less obvious choice is the paper journal. The benefits / costs of the paper journal are the inverse of the digital. Benefits : I’d have at least one thing in the world as a record of my hike. I’d write / explore more than I would in digital. Costs: it would add weight to my pack. Also, it might get destroyed or lost and not have a backup “in the cloud”.

For now I’ve placed a hard bound leuchtturm1917 journal in my packing bin for the start. The weight is worth it.






4 responses to “Keeping track”

  1. Mark Avatar

    Do the best of both. Write in the paper one, and then snap a picture – that way if the paper gets destroyed, you haven’t lost anything. To manage the weight, I wonder if you can mail the paper journal home on one of your stops, and then pick up another. I’ve got to believe you’ll need more than one book for as long as you’ll be out there.

    I’ll be curious to see how the first journals start – maybe you put more into it. Then somewhere in the middle, you get buy for “remembering you”, and then once over some mythical hump you are back at it.

    Key point – keep journaling!

    1. Chris Avatar

      On the minimal journaling, the only thing I want to avoid is making work for myself, which means making sketches of things I want to journal and then imagining I’ll write full journals sometime later. That sometime later will just eat at me. So whatever time I find to journal I need it to be “done” when I close the book.

  2. Mary Ann Weiss Avatar
    Mary Ann Weiss

    Call me old—old fashioned?— but I like the paper journal idea for the reasons you mentioned as well as the opportunity to sketch. I hope you will occasionally send us vicarious hikers messages.

    1. Chris Avatar

      I’ll definitely be posting here and am sure some of it might be inspired by what I journal.

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