About five months ago, when I started posting videos online for the East Coast Trail, I didn’t really know where I was going with the idea. At the time, I had just a few more paths to hike before completing all sections of the trail, and although I knew I wanted to do more hiking, I wasn’t sure if it would be on the ECT.
For me, hiking the ECT has always been bittersweet. I’m of the opinion that the environment in general and the ECT in particular is not something that the various levels of local government really appreciate. As a resource I feel that they don’t really understand or particularly care about it – not like BC does with the WCT – not like Spain with its Camino – not like Italy with its Cinque Terre. These are all world famous footpaths, but they’re just footpaths – and in my option, in many ways not even as engaging as the ECT.
So I decided that if I hiked it again I’d have to not only add some aspect to the activity to make it more interesting, but also make it mean something in a larger sense. Without much thought, I started to shoot some cell phone video – as opposed to just snapping photos – photos that I’d hardly ever look at anyway.
Once I started adding more videos, I felt the need to get them all online – an incomplete series seemed sort of pointless. I realized this could be a useful resource to those coming to Newfoundland to thru hike the path – info for those intending to do an end-to-end hike wasn’t readily available. In fact, a question that I’ve been asked on trail more than a few times by hikers going in the opposite direction has been “…is there a large river soon?” That’s telling.
Soon after half the videos were uploaded, I was contacted by a person (I’m still not sure if it’s a man or woman) via YouTube with questions… How long will a thru take? Is it as wet as the WCT? How about resupply? That was the first of many messages – messages that have become more and more frequent: potential distance hikers, day hikers, even a family RV camping at La Manche (“Is it safe to take kids on the trail?” Ah…. Yea! You should _definitely_ get those kids out of that RV and on the trail).
Despite the fact that I was speaking to the distance hiker in the videos, a wider range of people were watching. I also didn’t expect that the distance hike questions I’d get were from so many people who’d never done anything like this before. I can put that down to the Wild Effect, or something else, but it doesn’t really matter – the format of video lends itself well to those that are sedentary and looking for motivation.
After a few times cutting / pasting basically that same answer that was sent to the original YouTube contact, I knew I should stick the info online. I also knew video wasn’t the format for large amounts of raw data – I mean what was I thinking… They should take notes while watching on YouTube? So the Spreadsheet was born. Soon after that, one night when I couldn’t sleep, the Thru Hike Calculator followed – I honestly don’t even remember doing it.
As I was trying to clumsily manage URLs for the playlist and Spreadsheet data, and looking for somewhere to share the email responses, I had two viewers ask the exact same question, within an hour of each other. I decided then… That would be my last copy / paste.
Which brings me to today and the latest evolution of this whole thing – The Portal.
Currently at www.ECTThruHike.com you’ll find the following:
- ECT Thru Hike Notes and Tips (where the email responses live).
- ECT Thru Hike Playlist (linked to YouTube).
- ECT Thru Hike Spreadsheet & Calculator, also now including info on Camping and Re-supply (linked to GDocs).
Where is this going from here? I have no idea….