Keep a Hiking Journal

Hiking the Pacific Crest TrailTaking a Long Hike on the Pacific Crest TrailCamping on the Pacific Crest TrailBackpacking on the Pacific Crest Trail

Waterfall while hiking the Pacific Crest Trail

Thru-hikers (those aiming to complete a long-distance trail in one season) are on the major trails now, or will be very soon. Make sure to journal your hike.

One great advantage of keeping a daily journal is that you will be able to relive your hike the rest of your life. I began my first thru-hike, the Appalachian Trail, on March 14th, eight years ago. Each year, on March 14th, I can start to read my journal daily and relive that hike day-by-day. 

This year, I’m following my hike of the Pacific Crest Trail, day-by-day. Although I was wise to include daily mileage, start and end times, weather, and terrain, I wish I had included more descriptions of my surroundings.

All the pictures here are of my PCT hike, but as I read my journal I note the lack of setting and the missing details from campsites.  You can fix that when you journal.

It’s your journal. Put some soul into it. How do you feel. What are you learning. Look, examine, show, tell.

Published by Ray Anderson

Hiker and writer. Have hiked the Appalachian Trail, Pacific Crest Trail, The Long Trail (Vermont), and some of the Continental Divide Trail. My trail name is "HAMLET." Have written three hiking novels (thrillers). The first one, "THE TRAIL," was traditionally published in 2015. My second hiking thriller, "SIERRA," released Oct 2016. Book three in my AWOL hiking-thriller series, "THE DIVIDE" releases from Turner Publishing 8/18/2020.

2 thoughts on “Keep a Hiking Journal

  1. Great advice Ray. Even on day hikes I take notes to use later on my trail reports. Little reminders like trail head info, distances to landmarks, tree and plant species found along the way, and hazards encountered help this getting-older-every-day memory with recall.

    I also try to take note of some of my subjective thoughts relating to the beauty of the surroundings, the ease, or difficulty of the terrain relative to my conditioning, as well as simple sights, sounds and smells. Thanks for passing along the advice Ray.

    1. Thanks, Jeff. Yes, I’m also recording more info on flora. There is so much to learn out there, and I’m trying to make up for things missed over the years.

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