Many long distance and through hikers tell themselves that they’ll blog about their trip in real time so friends and family back home can keep track of their progress – but often fail to deliver. Sure, updates come pretty regularly the first few weeks but then they typically trail off as the hike goes on. Mike McCollum is actually doing a pretty good job so far, though it looks like he’s posting his daily journal once every two weeks or so (not exactly real time). Mike did manage to invest in a Spot Messenger which shows his location on a map using GPS and he’s even posting videos along they way. Still, no one has figured out how to do a trailside version of Justin.tv…
Even in this hyper-connected age there are still places you can’t get wi-fi or even a cell phone signal (like much of the Appalachian trail) so live-blogging your hike is difficult if not nearly impossible. Here are some tips for providing frequent, nearly real-time online updates on your hike:
1. Get a Spot Messenger. This device actually uses satellites to pinpoint your location and beam it to a website where others can track your progress (no cell signal required). The Spot is great in emergencies but it also provides passive real-time location updates without having to touch a keyboard.
2. Keep your journal old school using paper and pen. Keeping a written journal each day will help you write your blog much faster during the times when you do have access to the internet. In the old days folks used to mail journal updates to friends and family so consider having one of your peeps type up and post your notes online for you. Or map out wi-fi hotspots before your hike and blast out the updates when you head into town for resupply. If you must bring your own laptop, get an inexpensive and lightweight netbook.
3. Apple iPhones are great tools because you can use them to access the internet and email but good luck getting a signal in wild areas. Still, bring your phone (along with a way to charge the battery) and consider using your phone to beam pics, journal entries, and even your location (using the built-in GPS) whenever you can.
4. Bring extra memory cards for your camera. Most digital cameras include features that allow you to capture audio and video which can be great for a trail blog. Just remember that audio and video eat up memory fast and also that you’ll need a fast internet connection to send the files to the web.
With a little planning you can provide frequent updates from the trail on your next backpacking adventure!