Artificial Intelligence? A ChatGPT Trail Journal Mashup

I’m No Hemingway

I’d like to think that I’ve improved as an author over the course of my Long Trail journey, but I’ll be the first to admit that I’m no Hemingway. But what if Hemingway had walked the Long Trail in my shoes? What would he have written about this adventure? My buddy Jim suggested using artificial intelligence (AI) to find out, now that I had already published my final trail update. Fun idea!

One of the rare occasions that I did some trailside writing on the LT.

So, I transcribed the daily journal entries from my final week on the trail into the AI program ChatGPT and asked it to convert my words in the style of several authors including Jack London, Hemingway, Twain, Thoreau, Muir, Steven King, Bryson, and just for laughs, Dr Seuss and Lemony Snicket.

There were some amazing results. For example, ChatGPT converted my words, “I Can’t believe how stinky my new Altras are. Socks too!” into this amazing prose:

“My new Altras, however, proved to be olfactory offenders of the highest order, reminiscent of the pungency one might associate with a cheese shop on a sultry summer’s day. The socks, too, were accomplices in this aromatic assault.”

ChatGPT’s first attempt at a mashup using authors I specified. The response omitted the journal entry from September 21. So I repeated the mashup, but let AI choose the authors for the next round.

It was pretty cool. But I soon found myself travelling down a rabbit hole of endless stylistic interpretations, trying to choose the best or funniest passages. I started to compile my favorites as a mashup of authors, but ultimately decided to just let AI do the mashup for me. I simply pasted my journal text into the chat box again and asked ChatGPT to “convert this text as a mashup of styles from several famous authors” AI made a few mistakes, occasionally moving text to the wrong date, omitting important passages, misinterpreting what I meant, or sacrificing detail for flowery prose. Somehow, I find the misinterpretations reassuring.

The combined word count in my journal from the final days on the trail was 2287. ChatGPT reduced that to 717 words. I think it got bored reading my daily entries!

But still, it really was amazing. This is what ChatGPT spit out in just a few seconds:

September 19th – 3.6 Miles – A Journey’s Prelude

In the style of J.R.R. Tolkien:

In the midst of the unknown, the border ceased to be a mere abstraction, and the prospect of completing this odyssey sparkled on the horizon like a distant elven haven. An emotional storm brewed within, pondering the impending climax—tears, akin to the rain-soaked trail, a fitting tribute to the toil of blood and sweat. Yet, the destination awaited, and the trek must persist.

In the style of J.K. Rowling:

Post 592, an enchanted metal obelisk marked the border. The shelter, akin to a magical haven, displayed a conspicuous green road sign proclaiming, “Canada Border.” Amidst the camaraderie of fellow hikers, the mystical notes on weather and distances played a crucial role. Each hiker on a personal journey, yet bound by common threads, creating a tapestry of shared experiences. Plans, a careful alchemy of emotions, aimed at reaching the land of maple by 9/24.

September 20th – 15 Miles – The Magical Traverse

In the style of Lewis Carroll:

Down the rabbit hole of mud, the adventurer moved with an unusual swiftness, encounters with slippery conditions turning the trail into a whimsical Wonderland. Falls and a bonk on the head, a curious interruption in the journey. A Spruce Ledge, a shelter adorned with coolness, hosted an assembly of magical characters—Legacy, Ices, AKA, and No Hitch—their journey, a fantastical train hurtling towards Canada.

September 21st – 8 Miles – Nature’s Reverie

In the style of Walt Whitman

A day of transcendence, the 21st. Emerging from camp, time unfolds like nature’s poetry. Devil’s Gulch, a canvas of light, rocks, and caves, a testament to the divine. A cruise towards Belvedere, where false summits playfully jest. Cell signals pierce the solitude, connecting with Emily & Jimmy, orchestrating the finale. A climb up the fire tower reveals changing leaves, a reflection of life’s seasons. The crew’s departure, nature’s solitude embraced with Ghost and Hello by the beaver ponds. A day wrapped in the embrace of nature’s eternal song.

September 22nd – 12 Miles – The Epic Battle Within

In the style of George R.R. Martin:

Amidst the treacherous 4k elevation gain, the lone wanderer confronted the demons within. A badass MF, battling through falls, slips, and restless nights. The trail, a relentless adversary, demanding resilience. The encounter with Double Track, a fellow traveler from a parallel tale, providing intel and offering sustenance. The night at the shelter, a rendezvous with Yucca, Dumpling, and Ninja, added a touch of warmth to the harsh journey.

September 23rd – 8 Miles – A Symphony of Nature

In the style of Mary Shelley:

A fantastic day unfolded, a symphony of nature playing in the background. The climb up Jay, a transcendental experience. The summit, tainted by the loud and obnoxious, a reminder of the monstrous aspects of civilization. Lunch at Laura Woodward Shelter, a sanctuary marked by a note from Dough Head, salvaged from a dumpster. The final miles to Shooting Star, a cautious dance with fatigue, leading to encounters with a local couple—Matt and Nicki—a brief respite in the arms of nature.

September 24th – 5.5 Miles – The Grand Finale

In the style of Ernest Hemingway:

As the journey approached its close, the wanderer, amidst cool temps, reflected on the odyssey within an open shelter. The final miles, not a cakewalk, presented short, steep climbs and mud—a metaphor for life’s challenges. Encounters with fellow travelers, a reminder of the shared struggles. Coordinating with Jimmy, a companion in this grand finale, anticipating the moment at the milepost marker. Shouting, crying, or silent meditation—emotions as varied as the landscapes traversed.

In the style of Agatha Christie:

The denouement unfolded with precision, a young couple—Noah and Lindsey—a cast of characters representing the denizens of the trail. Calls, texts, and a logbook signature, marking the culmination of an intricate plot. The forest, a witness to the passage of time, echoed the stories of those who came before. Matt’s absence with beers, a subtle mystery, resolved with the arrival of Jimmy, Matt, and his sons. Subs, beers, and trekking poles handed over—a resolution to the grand narrative. The wanderer, a triumphant detective, solving the mystery of perseverance at an age where most would yield.

I Ain’t No Wordsmith!

Journaling was a great daily exercise throughout this hike. I had never done that before. But after being gifted a beautiful leather-bound journal by my sister Anne before the start of my hike, I adopted writing as part of my daily routine on the trail. I’m so glad I did.

Tucked into my sleeping bag at the end of the day, it was a great way to contemporaneously capture the essence of this amazing journey. It helped me organize my thoughts and experiences for blogging here on The Trek. But it became much more than that. In retrospect, writing has been an essential part of this experience for me, and perhaps just as important as carrying a pack, or walking the trail. Sharing my words with others is just a bonus.

This journey has humbled me yet again. AI has shown me that my prose could stand some improvement, but I can live with that. And I still prefer my own clumsy account of the hike, although the AI generated Dr. Seuss version was a close second (see below)!

End-to-Ender, Long Trail Class of 22/23

Dall-E AI generated artwork of “a backpacking porcupine on a mountain top in the style of Dr. Seuss”.

Mountain Pines and Porcupines

ChatGPT trail journal conversion in the style of Dr. Seuss

Trek of the Grinning Sneakers – 9/19 – 3.6 miles

On a good day so bright, at Nyes’ morning light,
With breakfast so grand, and vibes oh-so-right.
New Altras and socks, oh, what a pair!
So stinky, oh dear, wafting through the air.

To the trailhead, I skipped, with a pack a bit heavy,
Eva and Justin, companions so savvy.
In light rain, we danced, with a pace not too quick,
Through mist and through rain, my spirits did pick.

The lowland forest embraced, like a comforting hug,
My story untold, like a cozy bug.
To the shelter I dashed, the first one to greet,
With a big green sign, “Canada Border,” a feat!

Thinking of the border, emotions unfold,
Blood, sweat, and tears, a story to be told.
Back on this trail, a challenge profound,
With each step, in joy, my heart would resound.

Mud Ballet Extravaganza – 9/20 – 15 miles

A beautiful morn, with misty sunlight’s grace,
To Corliss I aimed, in a merry-paced race.
Rolling terrains and mud’s grand ballet,
Slipping and sliding, along the trail’s array.

Private property maze, like a sugary dream,
GMC crew, with chainsaws that gleam.
Laraway Mountain, in need of a dance,
A lookout, a spectacle, a water-rock romance.

Running into moose and a hint of discomfort,
Adjusting the gear, my hiking effort.
Falling in mud, a bonk on a tree,
Yet, onwards I went, wild and free.

In Spruce Ledge’s shelter, with a crew so grand,
Legacy, Ices, AKA, No Hitch, a band!
The train to Canada, a rolling delight,
With 30 miles left, the finish in sight.

Mountain Whispers and Trail Tales – 9/21 – 8 miles

A good day, a cruise, no need to rush,
Out of camp, with a trailside hush.
Devil’s Gulch with light and rocks so grand,
Belvedere’s joke, “Many false summits,” unplanned.

On Belvedere’s rise, with cell signal high,
Texts to Emily and Jimmy, oh my!
A fire tower climb, leaves changing their tune,
The crew moving on, beneath the moon.

A cool shelter by beaver ponds’ embrace,
With Ghost and Hello, a tranquil space.
Mountain shadows, echoes of the trail,
A Dr. Seuss journey, without fail.

The Sneaker’s Final Dance – 9/22 – 12 miles

Oh, you badass hiker, a tale to be told,
With curves and with mountains, so daring and bold.
12 miles, a feat with 4k gain,
A journey with struggles, triumphs in the rain.

Downhill off Haystack, a surprise so sweet,
Not as tough as they claimed, no sore hiker’s feet.
Liners and dry socks, a treat for the toes,
Through mud and through sunshine, the Sneaker’s tale grows.

Ten hours of trekking, with slips, falls, and grace,
A break atop Haystack, a refuel in that space.
Through boring PUDs and mud, the trail goes on,
A solo hike, a dance, from dawn until dawn.

Met Double Track and a dog by my side,
Through laughter and falls, in the woods, we’d confide.
Yucca, Dumpling, and Ninja, a trio so fine,
Hiking, sharing stories, beneath the tall pine.

Jay’s Jolly Journey – 9/23 – 8 miles

A fantastic day, with time on my side,
Rinsed my gear in the stream, a hiker’s joyride.
Up Jay’s mighty climb, thoughts swirling so grand,
With pictures and writings, in this magical land.

Rock scramble on the summit, no worries in sight,
Krummholz pines, a whimsical delight.
Tram visitors loud, on the peak they converge,
A snack, a text, then a trailside urge.

Lunch at Laura Woodward, a shelter so neat,
A note from First Gear, a tale to repeat.
Through the cautious miles, with Chaga in sight,
A local couple’s arrival, sharing the night.

Wrote in the logbook, a Porkie’s grand tale,
The first 100 miles, a triumph set sail.
A draw in the end, with fatigue in the air,
8 miles for a day, the trail’s final flare.

Porkie’s Parade – 9/24- 5.5 miles

No rush this morning, with a mind full of dreams,
In the shelter’s cool embrace, where the sky gleams.
The final miles, not an easy stroll,
Short climbs and some mud, a hiker’s goal.

Saw SOBOs with warnings of obstacles untrue,
Appreciated the intel, the camaraderie grew.
Coordinated with Jimmy, Journey’s End in sight,
A screengrab forgotten, in the forest’s twilight.

Felt great at the marker, with shouts, not tears,
A young couple, Noah and Lindsey, cheers!
Texts to dear ones, a forest more open and bright,
Matt, beers, and subs, a celebration in the light.

A trail complete, a tale told and shared,
With trekking poles handed, for Jimmy, who dared.
In the age’s embrace, a triumph so sweet,
The Sneaker’s final dance, a journey complete!

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Comments 1

  • Greg Ford : Dec 20th

    Thanks for sharing. It’s interesting what ChatGPT is capable of.


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