Tag Archives: adventure

Creating A Backpacker’s Journal — Because You’ll Surely Forget!

Photo courtesy Ray Dumas @ Flickr

Photo courtesy Ray Dumas @ Flickr

In the fall of 1985, after a summer backpacking the Appalachian Trail, I spent extensive time at a donut shop north of Boston. I know, there’s no worse way to sabotage a svelte hiker waistline than keeping company with chocolate croissants and dark roast coffee.  But I wasn’t there for an insatiable sugar binge.  I was there to write (OK, I did have some coffee).

I was there to copy what I had journaled that summer from one notebook into another.  I knew the fuzzing of memory over time would dim the the events of those rare days.  The photos I’d taken could never express my feelings, and some entries were so sparse they barely described what happened.  To prevent the potential fraying of my recall over time from robbing me of a record of that hiking season, it was vital I transcribe and clarify my brief journal.

First I reviewed the original material and jotted notes on entries which required expansion.  I corrected misremembered points. I expounded on moments which had deep meaning. I used a fresh corps of words to conjure a picture which featured adventure and exhaustion, frustration and elation, sadness and loneliness.  I penciled in what I felt and thought, all my regrets, misgivings, and moments when endorphins had me feeling I might take wing from the glorious summits I scaled.

I recorded it all: the pain and pleasure, the wrong turns and risks taken.  I apprised the me I had then and since become, capturing in a net of ink and paper a person who, though different today, still lives.  My journal became a lesson book that still reflects the vibrant risk taker I had become.  Each time I read it, I feel I’ve come home.  No video, photo, or electronic blog post can take me back to the intimacy, power and precious story of those days like my handwritten journal.

Thus I would admonish you, my friendly reader; though you blog and video and snap the shutter, nothing will make your hiking memory become a valued legacy like taking pen to paper to document the details.  Do it soon.  Because — over time — you’ll surely forget!


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Filed under Appalachian Trail, Backpacking, Hiking, Timothy J. Hodges

Trail Call

IMG_0341Snowfall turn snowmelt

Turn undulating earth abounding green.

Waking land escapes the winter sleep

And the voice of earth unfolds

And calls souls who hear it.

Hands reach for boots, tie laces.

Inventories and gear and maps

Result in pack shouldered and courses set.

alex_ford_flickrThe trailhead is an embrace,

A unique comfort,

Welcoming the footfalls that are put there.

Moving into the green,

Folded into forest,

Sanctified by mountains.

Home at last! BitoRjbIgAE2g-r


Filed under Appalachian Trail

Setting Out

Bzs8ZSIIcAEV__C.jpg-largeI’m still setting out. Just like I did that mid-April afternoon from Springer Mountain in 1985. I still feel the earth beneath my boots, see the leaves fringe the trees, notice the delicate bluets at my feet. The air smells different, like adventure. Expectation hangs in the air. A thread of anxiety born from that excitement fills me with an alertness unlike anything I’ve known. So many hikers have already passed toward Katahdin, and rather than feeling like I’ve missed the herd, I feel like the trail is somehow left to me more than it might have otherwise been. The gloss of so many years has not diminished the memory; it’s just sharpened it. It has magnified it, not distorted it. I’m still there, filling out the trail register and moving ahead into the span of spring, summer and autum days which will draw me to Maine. I just have to close my eyes to get there. And, most of all, it feels like the trail has never ended, because so many blessing have come from that turn in the road of my life. What would have my life been had I not decided to hike to Maine? As I look back today, I can see the unrolled skein of memory and decision which flowed from that first step to what my life has become now. And all is well.

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Filed under Adventure, Appalachian Trail, Backpacking, Dreams, Hiking, Living, Quest