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Scrolling Trip Reports Might be the Best Time I Spend Online

Posted by Jessi Loerch at May 26, 2023 11:59 AM |
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Trip reports are so much more than just a record of trail conditions. (Although they're great for that!) Trip reports are a great way to share your adventures with the people you love. And a way to leave a tremendously helpful record for yourself.

I read and write trip reports for many reasons. First, of course, because I rely on the good information about trail conditions and I know how useful they are. That makes me want to share any information I have with other hikers. 

I find, though, that I get so much more from reading and writing trip reports than just the current conditions. I find beautiful photos and touching stories. I read about sweet moments of trip reporters meeting each other on trail. I see people making elaborate meals and creating meaningful traditions.

A vivid green-blue lake viewed from above.
I appreciate that trip reports let me look back easily at some of my favorite memories, like this trip out of Holden. I would like to revisit this trip one day, with some adjustments, and I have a great record to help me make that happen. 

Trip reports aren’t socially media, exactly, but they’re similar. (Similar enough, that they’ve even been researched by academics that way.) But they differ in one key way. Spending time on other forms of social media can leave me wondering what happened to the last hour Reading trip reports never has that effect, though. They leave me inspired. If I’m spending a lot of time reading them, it’s because the information and the stories are truly compelling. And they’re encouraging me to get outside, an activity that never fails to make me feel better.

I think trip reports bring together some of the best elements of other social media, from Instagram to Strava, all in one place. (But without an ad popping up every 2 minutes.) You can easily share photos and a few quick thoughts. Or, you can post a long, detailed story about your trip, and include a video or a link to a map of your route. 

And, of course, you get all these benefits while also helping fellow hikers, land managers and WTA staff know about the conditions on trail. They do so much good for the places I love.

I often go back to review my old trip reports, like how I sometimes review my Instagram or Facebook to recall meaningful life moments I captured there. I love that I can scroll back through time or see a snapshot of my hiking history in a personal map, which helps me remember where I’ve hiked before. 

Sometimes I just want the basic details I need to remember what a trail was like. But sometimes I read back to remind myself where the campsite I wanted to revisit was. And, one of the best things about going back to old trip reports is that, if I didn’t capture a detail I need, I can easily read other trip reports to figure it out. 

I also regularly find some of my most precious memories preserved. The magical hour I spent watching a flock of dunlin. The weeklong trip inspired by decades of my parents talking about the same trail. A December trip with my husband that capped off my year of backpacking monthly. A sweet overnight with my daughter and some of my oldest friends. Taking my daughter to a beach she calls her happy spot. The trips that helped me grieve after my father’s death.

A man and kid sit on a rock and look in the saltwater.
I love looking back at family memories like this in trip reports. Seeing this photo reminder me of my daughter's absolute glee at the immense number of tiny crabs running around in the water below her.

I’ve never once regretted writing a trip report. But I have regretted not writing one when my notoriously fickle memory fails me. I love that I have a centralized place to capture my hiking memories, and one more place to share my photos and experience!

Trip reports  are a vital part of WTA, but another thing I especially love about sharing my trip reports is the community here and the trail community at large. In all of our work with trip reporters and commenters, we’re trying to help build an intentional online (and on trail!) community that is welcoming and caring. That also sets trip reports apart from mytypical social media experience — for the most part, people here are encouraging and supportive of each other’s adventures, and I love that. 

I hope the next time you head out on trail — whether it’s for a week or for 15 minutes — that you take a few minutes to write a trip report. I’ll appreciate reading about your experiences. And future you will appreciate the record you left yourself.


Jasper & the Girl Scouts on Scrolling Trip Reports Might be the Best Time I Spend Online

I so agree! Is it my imagination/poor memory or has the method to 'like' a report changed so that you now have to open the full report?

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Jasper & the Girl Scouts on May 27, 2023 06:46 PM