Why start a hiking blog? Three years ago, when Two-Heel Drive was born, the question had had scarcely been asked, much less answered — perhaps because up until then, hikers did not blog and bloggers did not hike.
Even three years ago blogs were not nearly so mainstream as they are now. Your great-grandma probably has a few favorite blogs by now. Your 10-year-old probably is probably an authority on RSS feeds.
Heck, if John Muir were alive to day, he would have a blog. How do I know? Because the only thing as voluminous as Muir’s backcountry travels was the volume of his writings documenting them. Muir was eloquent, passionate and observant, and obsessive about writing it all down. If you are any or all of these things, why not put ’em to good use and share with the world?
Lots of hikers still scrawl notes in paper journals, but if they live in the real world of jobs, earnings and high-speed Web connections, they also go online to research where they want to hike next and validate the experience of places they’ve already been.
The earliest iteration of Two-Heel Drive consisted of me rambling about hiking and linking to cool stuff that I figured other hikers might like to read. This wasn’t a half-bad model, but it was more entertaining than useful. Later I decided to focus almost exclusively on hiking in the Bay Area. This ran off a lot of folks who’d never climb Mission Peak or ramble the redwoods at Big Basin, but it created a much more useful site for folks around here (not nearly as useful at Jane Huber’s priceless Bay Area Hiker, but there was little use in reinventing that wheel).
You don’t have to be a great writer, great photographer, great technical whiz or great human being to be a hiking blogger. All you need is an interest and desire in documenting your hiking life and sharing it with the rest of the world.
The challenge, of course, is that most folks go hiking to get away from it all, and they think if they put it all on a blog, vast throngs will show up and spoil their favorite backwoods gems. Trust me: won’t happen.
How come? Because your hiking blog will have a vanishingly small audience. On good days I get 300 visitors, most of them led here by Google searches. The Bay Area is in the hikingest damn place on the planet and if there was ever a need for a local hiking blog, this is the place. I suspect that if I blogged 24 hours a day, seven days a week for a year I might build my readership up to 600 a day.
And you know those annoying ads on my pages? They earn $2 on good days. It covers the cost of hosting my Web site but not much more. Trust me, you would not be selling out if you started a hiking blog.
The main thing is, every hiker craves new trails for the same reason we crave loops over out-and-backs: we hate the idea of walking the same path twice.
If you spend a few hours on a Sunday walking on dirt, taking pictures, observing the flora and fauna and avoid being eaten by bears and mountain lions, you’d do your fellow hikers a favor by posting a few pictures and just answering the simple question: What’s it like to hike there?
You don’t need to offer turn-by-turn directions or to describe every mile in detail. Just make the case — pluses and minuses — on whether other hikers ought to check the place out. Other hikers’ gratitude is reward enough.