(Editor's note: welcome to the latest installment in our From the Founders series. Today we hear from Thrunotes Founder Russ Hepton! He elaborates on why he journals on trail, which ultimately led him to create waterproof, tear-resistant notebooks ... available on GGG!)
Dirt under your fingernails, sweat on your forehead, sunburnt wrists and soaking wet feet are easily captured by still or moving images, but how you felt, smelt and dealt with it all mentally is harder to capture.
Phones in our pockets are convenient and double as a camera. Sure, you can also take notes on your phone, but handwriting is way more personal and tells a much richer story than any picture or recording. It’s also way more interesting to show friends.
My recent trip on the West Highland Way, a 100-mile hike along the backbone of Scotland, proved to be one of the more challenging trails for me due to an injury to my right foot, which turned out to be the dreaded Plantar Fasciitis. I have no idea how I finished, but the entire trail was recorded in my Thrunotes.
It’s clear my handwriting worsened the more painful my ankle got, the further north we went.
Colder weather, rain, and tiredness can also affect the length and style of my journaling. And, it’s not uncommon for pages to have flecks of blood from cracked, blister-covered hands, or smears of chocolate, or the remnants of a gummy bear squished between two pages.
A physical journal comes on the journey with you, and because Thrunotes is so tough I don’t need to worry about it getting wet, dirty or scratched. As the miles pile up, so do the bumps and scrapes. I love showing my notes to friends. They can feel the notebook has been through a lot and it tells the story of the trail in a tactile and memorable way. You just can’t capture all of this without journaling in a physical notebook.
I try to write notes in the morning before breaking down camp as well as in the evening just before going to sleep. Writing the plan for the day ahead, weather forecasts and routes isn’t just useful prep, it’s also insightful to see how it differs from the notes taken in the evening. The day almost never goes exactly to plan.
More importantly, I write how I’m feeling. What’s going through my head. How did I feel when I went around the corner and saw that incredible view of Glen Coe after hiking all that way? What have I learned about myself and how did I mentally overcome challenges and make decisions?
The memories, emotions, aches and pains are fresh and are reflected clearly in multiple ways on every page.
I make a lot of hiking vlogs on my YouTube channel The Trail Hunter. It’s an incredible way to remember trail days. But putting pen to paper strips away my ego and I’m able to be far more authentic and get more personal. This in turn reflects in my vlogs. Every time I read back through a notebook from a trail, I can pick up different memories and emotions. After each trip, I head home with a more complete record of the trip than I would have if armed with just my phone. It contains not only useful information, but also my thought process and emotional state of mind.
Journaling isn’t just about writing either, it’s about creativity, mental wellbeing and discovery. We all record memories in our own unique way — whether it be writing, sketching or even collecting. So, after gathering feedback from customers, I also created Thrunotes Sketch with blank pages for drawing/ doodling as well as Blaze, our notebook with lined pages, so you can keep your notes neat and tidy.
The next time you head off on trail, be sure to take a notebook and pen with you to be more aware of what’s happening within you as you travel slowly through painting landscapes or enchanted forests. You never know what you’ll end up jotting down and I’m sure you’ll be surprised when you read it back after your trip.