The Trip Journal

If you want to retain the experience of your trip in vivid detail - there are only a couple of ways to do it.  Of course, photography is one of them - another is by using a trip journal.

I can assure you that what you see, hear and otherwise experience on a trip will gradually fade from your memory.  It seems that these experiences are so wonderful that they will be indelibly stamped on your mind, but they won't.

There are two things to record in a trip journal - the factual information about your route; and the actual experience of the trip.

The factual information is important.  It's nice to record things like:

  • how far you went each day

  • where you camped

  • what the sites were like

  • what the rapids were like

  • how difficult the portages were

It's almost a guarantee that you (or someone you know) will want this information at some later time.  Perhaps you're repeating the route and you want to remember where you camped.  Perhaps you've recommended the route to another canoeist and they want to know what the portages are like.  It's invaluable to have this information in writing.


Aside from the factual, it's wonderful to have a written record of the trip that describes the experience itself.  When we take the time to write down what we did and what we saw, what we smelled, heard and sensed, we have helped preserve that memory.  


Photographs are great for preserving the visual, but they cannot convey the feeling of looking at a lake shrouded in morning mist - the shiver you felt in the cool morning temperatures, the sound of the loon, the smell of the cedars, or the emotion you felt at the time.  A journal is the place to record this.


Journals are an especially good way for children to record their experiences.  Encourage them to write and to draw pictures - whatever it takes to give you a lasting record of your trips together.