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Hiking in Virtual Time

May 25, 2020

By Tom Kloster

After the Eagle Creek Fire in September 2017, I know I was not alone in
sorting through photos and trip reports from before the fire. While it has
taken time for all of us to absorb the changes the fire brought to the Gorge,
seeing old photos of our favorite places from years passed was a needed

Flash forward to March 2020, and we suddenly find ourselves in the COVID-
19 crisis, largely confined to our homes and neighborhoods for weeks or
months to come. Worse, having our treasured public lands closed for the
duration adds exponentially to the stress of the moment in a way that any
hiker can identify with. These are the places we go to escape the pressures
of daily life, after all.

With this new reality upon us, it’s a good time to take a virtual tour of those
favorite places that we long for! But this is where social media lets us down,
as today’s trending trip reports on Facebook or Instagram are long gone
tomorrow, and it’s nearly impossible to find old posts in the vast graveyard of
yesterday’s posts.

A solution exists.  Did you know that every trip report on the Oregon Hikers Forum is easily
available for you to virtually hike your favorite trail while we wait out COVID-
19? There are two ways to time-travel for your escape:

Method 1: Use Google. The search feature on the Oregon Hikers Forum
isn’t nearly as powerful as Google, so the best way to browse the forum
archive is to simple use these search terms: “Oregon Hikers Forum + Your

Your hike might be “Eagle Creek” or “Cooper Spur” but you can also narrow
the results by adding a year, as the archive goes back through 2010 and the
older reports are fun to revisit.

Method 2: Use the Oregon Hikers Field Guide as your portal. Go to the
OregonHikers.org site and select the “Field Guide” tab to begin your search, or you can  simply use a Google search: “Oregon Hikers Field Guide + Your
Hike”. This combination almost always pulls up the OH Field Guide as the top

A picture of a google search result.

An example of googling “Oregon Hikers Field Guide + your hike”

If you haven’t used the OH Field Guide before, your Google link will take you
to a page like this:

An example of the Oregon Hikers Field Guide entry

An example of the Oregon Hikers Field Guide entry

Once you’re on the OH Field Guide page you’re looking for, scroll down to the
bottom of the hike description, and you’ll find cross-linked trip reports for
that hike:

An example of cross-linked trip reports as they appear on OregonHikers.org

An example of cross-linked trip reports as they appear on OregonHikers.org

These links appear in the field guide when folks have selected the hike as
part of making a trip report over on the OH Forum (and that’s why its great if
you can use this feature when making a trip report!).
Some photos have vanished from trip reports where they were linked to
commercial hosting accounts, but most users have uploaded their photos
directly to the OH Forum, so for the most part everything is still there, ready for re-reading. It’s both fascinating to see the changes in some of our
favorite spots over the years, and it’s always fun to see our amazing trails
through someone else’s eyes.
So for now, enjoy your virtual escape! We’ll all be back out on the trail soon
enough. Hang in there, everyone!

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