Paige Stegina | A&E Editor
Fo many, simply a five-minute walk in nature can provide a reset. For others, day hikes or overnight camping trips can provide a more impactful connection to nature. For the extreme, there is the Appalachian Trail. The Appalachian Trail is a long-distance hiking trail spanning from Springer Mountain in Georgia to Mount Katahdin in Maine, a trek of over two thousand miles through fourteen states. With the thousands of people who attempt the long distance hike each year, only a handful succeed in completing the trail. However, the experience of the trail, both the highs and the lows, can now be experienced by anyone through the vlogs posted on YouTube. Since some hikers begin the trail as early as February, this is the time of year when these vlogs begin appearing on YouTube channels. These vlogs not only bring the entertainment of a journey, but also prepare those who one day hope to hike the trail.
Many of these channels begin with preparation it takes for the trail. Preparation for such a hike can be daunting. Everything you need to survive the trail, including food and shelter, needs to be carried in a backpack that will be carried for around six months. Through these vlogs, hikers can share their hiking supplies and setup. Although these supplies will change throughout the hike (with shoes being changed quickly due to the wear of the terrain), this part of the vlog is essential for the set-up of the rest of the hike. Not only this, but many hikers will use these early videos in their vlog to address concerns that they have on the trail. Although this may be less of a concern for more experienced hikers, the concept of hiking long distance with only yourself to depend on in the wilderness is a concern for many who attempt the trail.
These vlogs have given popularity to many landmarks along the trail, such as the famous Amicalola Falls arch, McAfee Knob in Virginia, or Clingman’s Dome. On an everyday basis during the hike, the trails bring adventurers into mountains, valleys, and state parks. The vlogs highlight these everyday marvels, allowing viewers to experience the natural glory of these locations from home. Most hikers chose to keep their vlogs on the shorter side, filming when they can so they can focus on their hikes. Others put significant effort into each video, making them into cinematic experiences. Although these videos are made for the public, many hikers will say that they make these videos for themselves, so after they reach the end, they will have a daily or weekly log of their time on the trail and their thoughts and experiences. Even with the many highs on the trails, there are certainly lows. Viewers get a more authentic and realistic version of the hike when the vlogger shares the lows of their hike, the harsh grind of hiking daily both on the body and mind.
Overall, these hiking vlogs are essential in not only recording these hiker’s incredible journeys on the trail but sharing it with the world. When posted online, these videos can not only entertain those who want a connection to nature, but also inspire the next group to hike their own hike in the great wilderness of the Appalachian Trail.