Why I’m Choosing Blogging Over Vlogging for My Thru-Hike

First, I must preface this post by commending the blogger, vlogger, and every artist in between. To allow the world even a peek of your life through self-expression, in all of its formidable forms, is a respectable act that can only be conquered with tremendous amounts of courage. Even still, I find myself inclined to limit the range in which I write in fear that I’ll show a gaping vulnerability, and I constantly have to remind myself that those moments of pain, fear, weakness, embarrassment, and shame are integral to the experience of life and should not be hushed. In a world that is becoming more algorithmic by the second, it is dire to remind ourselves of our humanity and work together to keep it intact. For me, that means pouring my soul into the written word. For others, that means letting their spirit run wild on film. All in all, sharing our experiences through expression is a noble pursuit, and by no means is blogging superior to vlogging. These are simply my reasons for picking the pen over the lens for my north-bound hike this upcoming April.

     I write to think.

Have you ever felt isolated in your thoughts, only to stumble across something so relatable it stops you in your tracks in disbelief? That glorious moment of connectivity is something I’d often experience during undergrad as I meandered my way through the halls to peruse the motivational posters pinned to the walls. My favorite was a quote by Joan Didion that hung above the water-foundation reading, “I write entirely to find out what I’m thinking, what I’m looking at, what I see and what it means. What I want and what I fear.” Until I discovered this nugget of wisdom above the spigot, I felt self-conscious about my inability to grasp my thoughts until I put pen to paper.

I suddenly understood that it isn’t necessary to know my thoughts before writing as long as I am patient enough to capture them as they flash across my head. The blank page seems to tame my frenetic mind as if I am the receiver of disjointed morse-code with the message being deciphered by my fingers alone. My head hardly feels involved half the time, yet I know the writing is mine because I recognize the emotion behind it. It’s like seeing your favorite shirt on someone else – you know the beloved blouse belongs to you, yet it feels foreign to see it sported by a stranger.

When writing, thoughts that otherwise exclude me invite me to the party, offering me a whack at the piñata to uncover the treats inside.

     I can be present in the moment.

Film beautifully captures the rawness of life in real-time, encapsulating an experience in its totality by documenting sound, color, emotion, and more. In some ways, this is more convenient than writing because there is no need to be patient. One can merely exist and let the camcorder do the work. At the same time, the videographer can become a martyr, relinquishing their ability to be present in the moment in order to capture the moment.

It can be difficult to decide which is better: the experience of capturing or the experience of surrendering. With the first, you imprison life’s fleeting moments in film and risk missing part of the experience, yet you can share it with the world and let others live vicariously through you. With the latter, you surrender to the “now” and leave reliving it up to memory alone. For me, writing empowers me to be present in the moment and capture the adventure as an afterthought. And as I entice my ephemeral thoughts with patience, I can reflect deeper on a moment I could experience more completely by not recording it.

I applaud all the vloggers who can co-exist in the moment and behind the lens because watching YouTube is part of the fun of planning a thru-hike. While I don’t intend to vlog myself, I’ve found much joy in following other people’s hikes through film.

     My mom demands updates.

I’ve strategically placed this reason last to see if my mom actually reads all the way through these things – LOL. If you’re not my mom, please do not let her know. Let’s see if she gets this far. My irreplaceable, ever-concerned mom demands updates not because she is over-protective but because she loves me. Lucky for her, blog updates are a deep-dive into my psyche, so she might be getting more than the “I made it to the next town” texts that she signed up for, but so be it. Love you, mom!

The blogging has begun, and I’m so ready for it – now, let’s just get to the hiking.

Cheers!

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Comments 15

  • Avatar
    Nick Billock : Mar 18th

    Oh, the irony! My wife and I have been discussing this at length. I LOVE to write and record…she, neither. We’re both hooked on watching the many thru-hike videos, gear reviews, etc. and those really move the needle in getting us even more excited to one day thru-hike the AT. The rub with her is exactly what you said: “At the same time, the videographer can become a martyr, relinquishing their ability to be present in the moment in order to capture the moment.” She is fiercely opposed to me recording it in the vlogging style but fully supports me writing. Through two deployments to Afghanistan and Africa, I blogged daily to empty my mind and stay connected with friends/family. It was, like you said, a deep dive into my soul…raw and authentic. Thanks for writing this today and we look forward to reading about your journey! Happy Trails, Faith!

    Reply
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      Faith Breads : Mar 22nd

      I couldn’t agree with you more on the excitement that thru-hike videos bring. Really into Nahamsha’s videos right now! Writing can be so simple, yet so worth-while and I’m so happy to hear it helped empty the mind during your deployments. Thanks for your service and best of luck on the trail!

      Reply
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    Max Kiel : Mar 18th

    This is definitely a question I also debated in the early stages of planning my thru-hike. I have spent the past few months editing for a reality TV series, so some of my family/friends were surprised with my decision to write instead of film. While I love editing raw footage together to tell a story, I think writing updates is better suited for me on this particular adventure. Blogging will be my primary source of updates; however, this doesn’t mean that I won’t be filming short video snippets throughout my hike to send to family and friends.

    Great read and happy trails

    Reply
    • Avatar
      Faith Breads : Mar 22nd

      Thanks, Max! Best of luck on your thru-hike. Happy trails!

      Reply
  • Avatar
    JhonYermo : Mar 18th

    “Sunrise Enthusiast Cock-a-doodle doo! How do you do?”
    Yep, that did it. Good one. I love to read and I also do Sunrises. Usually out in the civil twilight prior so I don’t miss them.
    I am subscribed and will be looking forward to your posts.
    JhonYermo

    Reply
    • Avatar
      Faith Breads : Mar 22nd

      Thanks! I do love a good sunrise. Cheers 🙂

      Reply
  • Avatar
    Andres : Mar 18th

    Very touching and cute. Keep your relationship as gentle.

    Reply
    • Avatar
      Faith Breads : Mar 22nd

      Thank you – I’ll do my best 🙂

      Reply
  • Avatar
    N2DIY : Apr 1st

    .-. .-. – -. .-.. -.- – .-.. – -… …- –

    -. ..- – – -.. .. -.- –

    Reply
    • Avatar
      Darryl Gibson N2DIY : Apr 1st

      Wow, that didn’t parse/ translate well.

      RR GL YL 73

      N2DIY

      Reply
      • Avatar
        Faith Breads : Apr 1st

        GE TU

        Reply
  • Avatar
    Harry Campbell : Apr 2nd

    And to write well, which you do, is key. I had to stop watching videos or checking on Facebook hiking groups and the like, it was information, sound and visual overload, as well as a cascade of opinions. Writing takes patience as does reading, I’ve enjoyed your words here and look forward to more. And yes I agree some things, many things cannot be captured on video or still image. In those moments of awe inspiring sight I tend to leave my camera phone in my pocket and to take it in. I’m hoping to begin a flip flop in 2021 starting in teh Shenandoah, may turn into a series of section hikes, we shall see. Have a great hike/journey.

    Reply
    • Avatar
      Faith Breads : Apr 3rd

      Thanks for the kind words, Harry! I remember the Shenandoah’s fondly from my childhood, grilling hotdogs with my Pappy as we overlooked his home-town in the valley below. That’s a great place to start, especially with all the waysides. Wishing you the best of luck with your flip-flop. Happy Hiking!

      Reply

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