Growing up, I thought my trail journal was the coolest thing. It looked like Henry Jones’ Grail journal from the movie Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. It had multi-coloured trail notes, sketches, photos, postcards, receipts, locations and dates of the hikes I completed, and lots of addresses and phone numbers from people I met on my travels. It was made of leather and I held it closed with a leather shoelace. When it was full, I never started another one. And sometime over the years, it was lost.
I’ve been thinking about trail journals again. I was telling a friend recently about an incident that happened years ago, when I slipped into a crevice along Helena Ridge in the Canadian Rockies. It was a pretty significant event. I remember where it happened, who I was with, the bear encounter on the descent, and spending time at the hospital getting my fingertips sewn back on, but much of the detail has become sketchy over time. And many of the photos I’ve taken in the last thirty years are either gone or stored in boxes and albums, tucked away in a plastic carton somewhere. The only photos I look at now are the ones that I took with my digital camera and saved on my computer. And considering how much time I’ve spent on the trails, hiking and scrambling, I don’t have many photos to show for it. In fact, I took six months off to travel and hike in the United States a few years ago and came back with fewer than 100 photos. My daughter was with me for two weeks of that trip and took nearly 500. I’ve scrambled up the back side of Yamnuska over 100 times, solo, with friends, family, and groups, ran up and down it once in 90 minutes, and another time I spent nine hours exploring the ridge. But when I look at the notes I made in my dog-eared copy of Scrambles in the Canadian Rockies by Alan Kane, on the Yamnuska page is a single notation: clear sky; I can see Calgary. A rather poor summary of my experience, I would say.
Today, I took a look online and discovered that people are keeping some really amazing trail journals there, journals that include photos, videos, and some cool narrative. It’s time for me to do something too, right here on this blog. After all, what better gift could I leave behind for my daughter than some memories of her hiking-loving father? Yeah, it’s time for a change.
Now where are those batteries for my Kodak Instamatic?