My name is Jamie and I’m the sole writer and photographer on DownTheTrail.com.
You must be on this About page because you’re smart – because you’re checking up on the source of an article you just read here. Great!
So who do I think I am, writing this website about hiking? Since you probably clicked this page to check my credibility, I’ll get that out of the way first. Here’s some of my outdoor experience:
- Appalachian Trail
- TransAmerica Trail (bicycle tour)
- Long Trail – Vermont
- John Muir Trail
- Teton Crest Trail
- Colorado Trail
- Inca Trail
- Trails in Hawaii
- A season in Alaska (several weekend hikes)
- Hayduke Trail (long sections)
- Arizona Trail (sections)
- 4 Grand Canyon rafting trips (2 as boatman)
- 4,000 miles hiked in Grand Canyon (and 40+ summits)
- Piecing together an end-to-end hike of Grand Canyon (Less than 50 people in all of history have done this)
- more day trips and weekends around the U.S.
- I’ve visited all 50 states
The photo of me up there is from the bus in Alaska where Christopher McCandless lived and died. I put it there because it’s cool and shows you I’m legit (hiking with grizzly bears and such). I always liked to say I had a milder strain of the mental condition that got McCandless.
Sweet. I’ll tell you about the evolution of this site.
It’s been through 3 key phases:
STAGE 1 – Look at me!
I felt lucky and special to hike the Appalachian Trail and Bicycle Across America in the early 2000s. This was before social media was here to channel the inevitable narcissism of the internet, so I shared my adventures on other people’s websites.
After learning some HTML code back in the day for MySpace, it dawned on me that maybe I could manage my own website. DownTheTrail.com was born in 2008.
STAGE 2 – It’s not about me. It’s about you.
Did you know that most people don’t care to read about my daily mileage, meals, and lists of people I met while hiking?
For a while I made up for the monotony with quality photos, but now the internet is saturated with great photography, too.
So rather than focusing on self-indulgent trail journals, I’ve tried to be more helpful and interesting. I started writing more about gear, how to do this, how to do that, the Pros And Cons Of The 50 Best Titanium Spoons, trail guides, and so on.
Guides and Gear are useful and do a good service, but now there’s a million other blogs about titanium spoons and the like. Gear sales is where there’s money to be made from a backpacking blog, so it seems as though every former thru-hiker is starting a gear-oriented blog to fund their #vanlife.
STAGE 3 – Stop the insanity!!!
Social media and technology are kind of ruining everything.
The sad truth is that most website visitors won’t even get here – so far down the page – due to our dwindling attention spans and habit of skimming everything. If you are still here, I commend you. Thank you!
Lately I’ve been writing more about our modern culture and its effect on the outdoors. For example, one of my more loaded takes on the subject is called Millennial Hikers: Will You Stop Geotagging Your Instagram Selfies?
Much of the joy in traveling for me is (the illusion of) exploring a wild, uncharted territory. Our hyper-speed sharing of everything and exploitation of wilderness for instagram-able photos has gone too far.
I reigned in my social media habits long ago, but I struggle with the ethics of continuing a blog about the outdoors and consequently being a part of the problem.
I’ll still write about destinations that are well-documented on the internet (aka most of them), but now I’m much less likely to publish something that’s well off the beaten path.
This shift in attitude is probably a result of meeting my 40th birthday.
What’s my life story?
I was born and raised in Allentown Pennsylvania and I’ve spent the majority of the last decade living and working in Grand Canyon National Park. For more insight you can look in to the introductions to my Appalachian Trail and Bicycle Touring journals from my early 20s.
Where’s everything from the Grand Canyon?
I used to have a good collection of Grand Canyon photos and information on here. I have more experience and knowledge in Grand Canyon than any other destination, so it made sense to create a separate site dedicated to it. That was my intent with ElvesChasm.com.
Elves Chasm is still online but the site is essentially dead. Once DownTheTrail is up-to-date I’ll consider taking another stab at a dedicated Grand Canyon site, but I don’t anticipated getting to it for a long time. Elves Chasm will be up in the meantime, but I eventually intend to take it down and start over with a new domain.
What’s the Next Big Adventure?
There’s nothing big in the works for now, but you can sign up for email updates below to be the first to know (and get my best free mapping tools, too)!