Is it Ironic that the Internet is Where I Learned how to Hike?

I’m used to being a bit of a freak show. Or maybe I flatter myself. But, I have two strange names, I’m a bit short, and I have a wee pot belly. It’s covered in hair. And backpacking, it was always something I did away from my day-to-day life (except for with my Lady Friend who I co-opted by buying her nothing but backing gear for birthdays, anniversaries, etc).

So when I decided that it was probably a good idea to walk across Japan (the short way), it was greeted with a sputtering of syllables amounting too ‘yes, you have just confirmed you are a bit strange, and I’m not quite sure you will do it.’ Of course, it was more politely said, and they probably didn’t mean that, but it’s what I heard given that I felt different.

The internet is magic. As soon as I unilaterally declared myself in, or opted in, or joined the online light weight hiking community, I met people who found what I was hoping to do exciting, normal and not remarkably difficult. I appreciate this deeply.

And answers to questions! The advice and response time of the lightweight hiking community is unmatched. Not knowing how to do something is no longer an excuse for not doing something.

Sometimes the Lady Friend gives me shit about twitter. And that’s healthy, it is addicting. But in the last month I have talked to more interesting people, learned more, and felt more inspired than for a very long time (follow me on twitter!). Walking across Japan (the short way) went from being a fantasy that confirmed I was a ‘different kind of person’ to a possible, challenging, and fun reality.

The Church gets that bit right, community is powerful norm creating force.

In May 2009, I had never participated in an online community outside of facebook (stalking). Lucky, that changed. Even after just a month, it has been incredibly motivating.

Warm-up Question: What are your favorite blogs, hiking related or not?

Advanced Question: Did I misuse irony in the title?

Questions for the audience:
For all who participate, blog, comment, etc: What’s in it for you? Why do you value this online community? Why do you share your stories, time and effort?

For all reading this blog who haven’t commented and don’t usually comment on blogs: please start. Join the conversation, contribute your ideas, ask questions, get inspired. After a month of blogging I’ve cracked 1000 page views, but only have comments from 6 different people; I’m really curious who all of you are. Tell me. Right now.  It’ll be fun.

About hamilton

Walking, Walking!
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11 Responses to Is it Ironic that the Internet is Where I Learned how to Hike?

  1. Joe says:

    God bless the internet! Not many people in my ‘normal’ life want to hear about pot weights, cuben fibre or thermo-regulation techniques so having a ‘virtual’ community is a blessing. The internet taught me a lot of things and being able to read the accounts and views of ‘your average Joe’ is a great way to learn from other people’s mistakes and experiences. Gear reviews from the blogging community, especially, are often much more informative and unbiased than the commercial magazines, being free from the stain of advertising budgets and deadlines.

    The best bit comes when you get to finally meet your fellow on-line nerds in person and you realise we’re not all socially inept weirdos, well most of us anyway! ;-)

    • hamilton says:

      I do love the democratization of expertise (‘learning from your average Joe’ as you put, self reference I suppose??). I think the saying that you don’t really understand something until you have to teach it is usually true, and blogging is a great way to do that with hiking for sure.

  2. Hendrik M says:

    Favourite blogs: Probably too many =) i-cjw stands out, though.

    Irony = the expression of one’s meaning by using language that normally signifies the opposite, typically for humorous or emphatic effect. Thus I’d say no, not misused it ;)

    What’s in it for you? Creating “friendships”, learning, entertainment.

    Why do you value this online community? A foreigner in Finland with a strange hobby =) Online it is normal, offline you’re the strange guy (usually).

    Why do you share your stories, time and effort? Because I enjoy it. It is also for me a good way to look back on what I did, what was my stance on sth a year ago and today, and also because of the above two points.

    Nice post =)

    • hamilton says:

      I’m looking forward to the point a year in the future when I can look back on these early posts and think ‘ah, look how far I’ve come.’ Taking a stance and making your opinion public is a great way to cultivate reflective and improvement-oriented life. There has got to be a better phrase than improvement-oriented life….I’ll think about that. Sometimes I worry I’m loosing my vocabulary here in Tokyo…

  3. PA says:

    Hey! My brother (interested in lightweight hiking/wild camping) sent me a link to your site. I lived in Japan from 1999-2006 and he thought I’d find your site interesting.
    I do! Looking forward to more hiking/jumping in lake stories :-)
    PA

    • hamilton says:

      PA,

      Glad you enjoyed them, I’ll be interested to hear more about your experiences with zen and why becoming a monk wasn’t for you!

      Also, I tried surfing for the first time two weeks ago (in Chiba) and loved it. So I will be reading your exploits with interest as well.

      • PA says:

        Ahhh, surfing in Chiba! I wasn’t into surfing at all when I was in Japan so I never got the chance to surf there – it’s got a good reputation though and Kelly Slater says it’s world class :-)
        Be interesting to read about that too!

  4. Mami says:

    Hey! Here is my answer to why I blog: http://livingmydreamsawake.wordpress.com/2010/04/28/sharing/

    I’m so proud of you, well, us both!
    Mami

  5. Maz says:

    When I was a kid, my teachers told me I talked too much. Now I do it for a living. I think that I always enjoyed telling people about my adventures, scrapes and nightmares, warts and all, because I’ve always been open and honest – perhaps a little too self-deprecating. With that came the natural desire to listen to others’ and compare, share and laugh or cry about each other’s experiences. I always wanted to get down on paper my own stories because I’ve made sure I’ve travelled and hunted down true freedom in a way my parents couldn’t – a blog seemed the natural way to do it.

    Think it would be unfair to say which were my favourite blogs but some can be singled out for specific reasons – “Thunder in the Night” is visually stunning because Joe has a great eye for a photo and his trips are in possibly one of the coolest places in the world in my view; “Hiking in Finland” is as definitive and central to the community as any blog, but it hits the right tone and appeals to everyone – Hendrik puts so much into it, he must have 30 hours in a day; “the Armchair Adventurer” because Dave writes so well; “blogpackinglight” because Robin got me into this in the first place and “Summit and Valley” because Martin Rye is as honest, concise and without side as they come – everything he says is just totally without bullshit which I appreciate. There are other great ones too, but they are the ones I check first.

    • hamilton says:

      Maz,

      Thanks for the great comments and thanks for sharing your story!

      Great list of blogs, I’ve discovered all of them since I started looking 2 months ago and have been inspired by all as well. I am also a talker and sharer by nature and what I love about all these blogs is that they challenge me to share better (clarify my thinking, focus on the important/ discard the chaff, look for interesting narratives that communicate bigger ideas more concisely).

      I’ll be looking to reading your stories as well, I’m already enjoying your writing quite a lot.

  6. Maz says:

    Thanks! Feel free to comment as I really enjoy people letting me know what they think of what I’m writing.

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