Point, focus, click. Blog, take a selfie. These are just a few of the ways to document your hiking and backpacking trip. None of these methods existed when last I did an extensive trip around 1989. The dawn of the worldwide web and the Internet was just breaking. Now, with so many technological means of recording your trip, you might think it’s the best way to go. And there’s nothing wrong with using tech to tell your tale.
I would like to suggest, however, what I think is the most powerful and personally meaningful means to putting your story down for posterity, and it involves not new, edgy innovations — it’s distinctly and intentionally “old tech.”
I had recorded my journey using pen and paper. Not longer after “re-entry” when my trip was over, I looked over the water-spattered and smudged pages. I noticed my entries were sometimes lacking detail and somewhat sketchy. So, I decided I would do a complete revision of my journal, before the “little gray cells” lost their grip on the memories.
Here’s what I did.
First, I got a headquarters; a place I would go at least one or two days a week to get comfortable, grab some coffee, and have space to write in. I chose a Dunkin’ Donuts. I would camp out there about one or two hours, coffee and donuts at hand, and with a fresh, new notebook, I would transcribe my old journal into the new one. At first this felt awkward. But, then things began cranking along and I was remembering things I had forgotten which happened to me on the trail, and I also discovered that as I rewrote paragraphs I was expanding them, which made them more memorable and made for richer reading.
Next, I said I did the work by hand — yes, longhand! That slowed my brain down and gave ample time for the memories to sort of re-process and for forgotten episodes to be remembered. This was exciting and engaging. It felt like I was reliving the trail adventure, which I was, but in a way I had not anticipated. I used a pen and paper, not a laptop, so I could spend the time I needed to make the memories indelible in a way only handwriting can do.
The entire process took about three months, and I ended up with more than a record, more than a journal. I created a keepsake that will be part of my legacy, and will have my own personal stamp of effort on it.
I suggest you try it. Nothing will make your re-entry from the trail to daily life more meaningful, and process the experience at the same time, than revisiting those glory days on the trail in this way.
Try it and see!