Hiking is a great way to escape the rat race, get out in nature and leave the stress of the world behind. Alas, your hiking experiences can fade with time. The best way to prevent this is to keep a hiking journal.
Take a minute to give some consideration to your most recent hiking experience. What sticks out in your mind? Who did you go with and were there any incredible views? Now think about the first time you ever went hiking. Undoubtedly, you remember few things about the geography, people you went with and the particular hiking routes. The experiences you've forgotten are lost to time. If you keep a hiking journal, this won't be the case.
There are famous instances of people keeping journals throughout time. Of course, Anne Frank's Diary is the best example. In her diary, Anne kept a running commentary of the two years her family spent hiding from the Nazis. While your hiking experiences better be more lighthearted, keeping a journal will let you remember them as the years pass.
A good hiking journal combines a number of characteristics. First, it should be compact so you don't have to lug extra weight around. Second, it should have a case to protect it from the elements. Third, the journal should contain blank areas to write your notes. Fourth, the journal should contain cue spaces to remind you to keep notes on specific things. Cues should include:
1. Who you went hiking with,
2. The length and difficulty of the hike,
3. Who you met and contact information for them,
4. The weather conditions,
5. Any unique things that occurred while hiking,
6. The routes you took on the hikes and alternatives you might want to try later.
7. Unique information about the particular hiking trail, and
8. Any inside information provided by locals or other climbers you met.
At the end of the hike, you should be able to get the following from your journal:
1. Contact information for other hikers you met,
2. Enough detail to provide you or a friend with a guide if you or they hike the location a second time.
3. Memories to reflect upon years later, and
4. Something to pass on to your friends, children and grandchildren.
To get the most out of your hiking journal, you should write in it just before you start, during breaks such as lunch and when you return. It is always interesting to see the different impressions you have before and after a hike as well as your mood changes as the hike progresses. On a miserably rainy day in winter, the journal will make for good reading.
Hiking is a great way to commune with nature and spend a weekend. Make sure to preserve the experience with your hiking journal.