This is the Big Moment for those of us in the Everytrail Guides Authors Guild (created right here as of this moment, I suppose): Guides are now available on the iPhone (via Everytrail Free and Everytrail Pro).

Everytrail Pro for iPhone

I wish I could brag that I was the most prolific Guide author, but that honor goes to Stuart at Trailspotting, who has left the rest of us in the dust with guides for Hawaii, Lassen Volcanic National Park and a host of High Sierra locales.

This feels very much like the day back in about 1996 when I realized I could learn to create Web pages. Not like being present at the Creation or any such hype — just a sense of being part of something that was going to be huge.

I felt the same thing the first time I noodled around with my iPhone just two summers ago. When the founder of Everytrail dropped me a note last summer asking if I’d like to be a part of this plan to create location-aware, GPS-enabled travel guides, it took about a half-second to say “when do I start?” (didn’t hurt that my so-called newspaper career perished practically the same day).

In 10 years every amusement park, shopping mall and museum will be using this kind of technology to help people find their way (to the bathroom, mainly); it’ll be as second-nature as GPS guidance systems in cars.

Everytrail hopes people will pony up $1.99 for the privilege of using Guides on their iPhones. I can’t imagine outrageous fortunes flowing from that trickle of a revenue stream, but the technology is so new that nobody really knows where it’s going.

I have no illusions about the hurdles Everytrail has to overcome: I hiked every weekend for half a decade without once using a GPS unit, much less a GPS travel guide. Furthermore, the very idea of taking an iPhone into the wilderness is a huge conceptual leap: after all, it’s a cell phone. Why would you take it where there’s no cell service? Legions of inventors have seen their brilliant, world-shattering ideas wallow in obscurity — just because people can do something does not mean they will.

For now, though, it just feels good to be there at the start of something really cool.

Incidentally, these are my most recent Guides:

The Guides project also has a couple new partners of note: Fodors, creator of many tourism guides; and Trail Kilkenny, with Guides to the land of my ancestors in the Emerald Isle.

So when do I start penning Guides on trails a bit closer to home? Soon, but I’d like to have hiked a trail at least twice before committing it to Guide status. I’m having so much fun finding new trails that it’s hard to get charged up about returning to places I’ve already been. If you’ve put up with me this long, a little longer won’t hurt.