Are you a trail writer? As a writer it is often difficult to imagine a night not spent at the computer working on the latest novel, poem or story that meets your fancy. Although I used to dread those evenings on the trail far away from my computer, after some time on the trail and a bit of getting used to I’ve become pampered by the feeling of finally getting unplugged. Writers, trade your keyboard for a pad of paper, swap the glare of your screen for the glow of a headlamp, and get ready for an experience that will give you second thoughts about returning to your computer.

I’ll admit it—I’m unfortunately addicted to my laptop. It’s very difficult for me to part with my digital info box, and we still say our long goodbyes before I head on an overnight. While I used to suffer writing withdrawals on backpacking trips, I’ve become accustomed to carrying a small spiral journal and a ballpoint pen when I go out on the trail. This little piece of home gives me the freedom to jot down an idea on a break, write a haiku while I’m hiking or carve out a storyline late at night. I once wrote two final papers for my English classes on an overnight along the Middlefork Trail when I was uninspired by the white walls of my dorm room. Nothing brings Dante Alighieri’s Purgatory to life like a heavy pack and a little bit of elevation gain, right?

The perfect writing nook

The Great Outdoors are literally the cradle of creativity, and if you aren’t carrying a little notebook to jot your ideas down, you might just be missing out on the experience. Even you non-writers out there might find the perfect serene landscape to inspire some words. If you are traveling in a group it is easy to slink away after camp set-up and allow the stunning serenity of the wilderness to burst into inspiration. If you’re an early riser, simply string up a hammock and compose some poetry while you watch the work awake. Sometimes a little bit of silence, a swell of wind or the sound of a trickling creak is enough to slow out the racing thoughts of an overstimulated mind.

Inspiration right at your feet!

The best part about writing on the trail, you may ask? You don’t necessarily have to compose the next New York Times Bestseller. Writing is secondary to hiking, so if you miss the mark, well, you still got a great trip in. I’ve written amazingly terrible poetry on the trail, I’ve scripted storylines only to realize they’re the next best thing to cliché. And the saving grace: terrible writing makes great kindling. My little lined notebook has helped foster brilliant ideas and some great fires in the backcountry.

What is your favorite thing to write on the trail?

It became kindling? No worries!

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