7 Tips for Blogging Your Thru-Hike
So you’ve told everyone you’re hiking the Appalachian Trail– good job. But you’ve also promised friends/family blog updates straight from the woods, and now you’re actually in the woods and baffled as to how to go about keeping your promise.
It can be tough enough to get your thoughts out in day-to-day life, but now you’re in the middle of the woods, bombarded with experiences and emotions for all of your waking hours. Here are some pointers for how to effectively update throughout your hike without having it be a hassle.
–Maggie AKA Honey Badger AKA Appalachian Trials Editor
1) If you have a smart phone
Try to find an app that will let you write and post to the website you’re using (We use WordPress on Appalachian Trials, which has a great app). I tried using the web browser on my iPhone for my first update, and I remember hurling my phone across our Budget Inn room in Hiawassee. No matter what you’re using, I recommend typing your entry into “notes” on your smartphone, so you have a copy in case the internet cuts out. Typing an entire entry and then losing it will make you a sad hiker. Also, make sure to find WiFi at the motel/library/hiker center, or you’ll plow through your data really fast.
2) If you don’t have a smart phone:
Many motel lobbies, hiker centers, and public libraries have desktops you can use. Bring a snack or a book, because the processing can be sloooow, and you might not be able to upload all of the pictures you want. Just be mindful of other hiker trash waiting to use the computer.
3) Take notes each day, on your phone or in a journal
You’ll be grateful to have your daily notes once you get to town and have time to post an update. This is also a great way to keep a record of your hike and see how you changed throughout the miles. I packed a small notebook and tried to write a few lines each night. Thanks to my exhaustion level, most of the journal entries said something like: “21 miles. Too long. Many hills. So tired. Rocky is snoring.” Which ended up being kind of useless when I went to post a trail update. But A for effort, right?
4) How often you update depends on you
There’s no “right way” to do it, but every couple weeks/few hundred miles is a good rule of thumb for a brief update. It’s easiest to write your post on a zero or nero, when you’re not running around in a rain suit shoving quarters in a washing machine or guesstimating how many Pop-Tarts you’ll need for the upcoming week. Updating should be fun, not one of your town chores, so make sure to do it when you have the time.
5) The Internet can be rude
I had a rough patch in New York and posted a semi-controversial update about it. It got an insane range of commentary, some really encouraging and some downright mean. I stopped reading the comments though, because while it’s fun to get good feedback, the negative can really bring you down. But like most problems, the solution is easy: IGNORE IT!
6) Keep it real
Honesty is always the best policy, and that includes your trail updates. If you need to take a break or get off the trail? Let people know why. Being down-to-earth and honest about the good and bad will also make for a great trail diary to look back on and laugh about when Blood Mountain seemed like summiting Everest, and Fresh Ground’s Leapfrog Café saved your freezing self.
7) If it isn’t fun, don’t do it
Remember to have fun out there, and don’t let the blogging take over your life. If you start updating and realize you hate it and it’s detracting from your experience? Stop blogging! Your friends will understand, and it means they’ll get to sit through an extra-long slideshow of your hike once you’re back.
Here are a few examples of great trail updates from last year’s bloggers on our site, and there are other websites out there with terrific trail journals and personal blogs. If you have any tips or used a great site, leave a comment below!
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Nice article and helpful information. Thanks!
It’s 1 1/2 years since i finished. People are still reading my blog. Personally, I used a blogging app i could use off-line. I followed an eay to remember formate in my daily journal (best souviner). Keep it real and invite people, positively, into the journey like an adventure novel.
I enjoyed your article & hope other follow suit.
A nice feature of WordPress is the ability to post in the future. That way you can write a few entries and set them to go live a few days later. I do this so I can post regularly without having to do it every X days.
I blogged on my AT thru-hike in 2013. I used Google Blogger. I made a post for each and every day and saved it as a draft. I then uploaded the posts when I had service. This past month there were 1600 page views. It’s amazing people are still reading it. After I got back into made a book with 500 color pictures along with my daily posts.
I’m doing the PCT this year. I’m going to use WordPress. It’s much more user friendly.
Doing a blog can be time consuming but at the same time it was enjoyable and now I feel very fortunate to be able to look back on journey that I loved.
I blogged my thru hike of the AT in 2013. I had many readers, which completely surprised me. I’ve contemplated getting back on that group trail blogging site, or The Trek or just staying with my own blog. If I do my own blog can I also be a blogger for a group site? Can the same post be used for both or is their some ownership by the site over what it posts?