Recording Your Outdoor Adventures

Guatemala. Monday, March 26, 1990. Caught the 6:30 a.m. bus from Antigua for the 20-minute ride to Santa Maria de Jesus at the base of Volcan Agua. Signed in at the municipal office (.25 Q each) and headed out for a sunny, 3 ¾ hour hike to the summit. 

Can you remember as many details from a hike you might have done almost 18 years ago? Don’t worry, I couldn’t either without my trusty journal to kick start the trip down memory lane. Journals plus photos ensure a record of past trips that is clear and concise.  So how do you go about it? 

Some people find journaling to be a daunting proposition, but it doesn’t need to be. Pick up a logbook and begin writing. It’s that simple. Make sure you have more than one writing tool. Pens and pencils always get lost – only to resurface after you’ve given up the search! Now start writing.

Write when you’re taking a breather on a cross-island hike past hillside taro plots and hand-dug irrigation ditches. Write at the start of the day as you lay still snuggled deep in your sleeping bag at the base of Mt. Robson. Write as darkness descends on the Skyline Trail. Write sitting upright in a cabin at Elk Lakes. Write laying down in the parking lot while you wait for your skiing partner to shuttle the car. Just write.

If the muse abandons you and you’re stuck on what to put down, start with the basics – date, time, location, distance, weather, guidebooks used, maps used, names of hiking partners. Record what you see, what you hear, what you smell, what you taste, how you feel, what you think, what you’d like to do next, what you really did, what you didn’t do but want to next time, write how the experience is making you re-evaluate your goals in life – write whatever you want, just get going.  

Keep it simple. Some of my friends lug lenses and filters and camera bodies with them – but I don’t. I’m a little too hard on equipment. My digitals have gone swimming in the ocean off Vancouver Island (not a good sign when it flashes you while shut off); bounced down a sandstone cliff in Utah; and gotten a little soggy on a backcountry trip to the Kootenays. 

So I stick to relatively inexpensive point-and-shoot digital cameras and store the photos on an external hard drive as well as on CD’s, labeled and kept handy in a soft-sided CD case beside my desk. A card reader (cheap and durable) saves wear and tear on camera and is worth the investment. 

This year I’ve added a new collage frame to our walls – marking my daughter’s growth in the outdoors – from being carried on my husband’s back to carrying a bigger backpack than mine! Moments like these deserve to be remembered.

First or 50th ice climb - it's all worth recording!

How do you keep record of your outdoor adventures?

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