About: This Site

Won't you come with me?

Soon after I began seriously planning to thru-hike the Appalachian Trail, I decided I wanted to write a daily journal of my hike. And naturally, because I worked as a website developer, the journal would be in the form of a blog.

Nearly all of the websites I have developed use an open-source content management system called Drupal. About the time I started thinking about my hiking blog, a new version of Drupal was in development. This then became a logical direction for me to take. I could create my site while at the same time learning how to develop sites in the latest version.

This was a great opportunity for me to learn new skills without concern about meeting a deadline. I frequently erased everything I had done and started over, which was a luxury I would never have if I were being paid to build it.

Eventually, though, a deadline loomed and that was the departure date for my hike. I finally wrapped up development and launched this site shortly before I learned I would have to delay my start date. Finding out I would need to have hernia-repair surgery and delaying my hike for recovery became some of my first posts for the blog.

When I was able to begin hiking in April 2017, I quickly realized my intention to blog daily from the trail was impractical. Each post was taking a minimum of three to four hours to write, and those were hours I could be spending socializing with other hikers or sleeping.

Other hikers have managed to blog daily, but I decided that wasn't for me. I regret I couldn't provide my journal in real time, but I am glad I decided to stop trying. Because I elected to wait until I returned home to write, I could include extra details and historical background about the trail and include many more photos.

One of the downsides of running a site in a content management system like Drupal is that it requires regular monitoring and maintenance. Security updates must be installed from time to time in order to prevent it from becoming vulnerable to hackers.

After I returned home from hiking the Pacific Crest Trail in late 2019, I began working on a way to minimize that problem. This also allowed me to make some improvements to the site that I had been wanting to do and learn another new technology. Following the same pattern of trial and error I used in the original development, I took an opportunity to learn about GatsbyJS, which is a React-based (JavaScript) framework.

Thus, the site you see today is Gatsby on the front end and Drupal in the back end. I won't dive any deeper into the technology than that, but feel free to contact me if you have questions about how this site was built.

Although this site became a learning opportunity for me, I hope I remained successful in sticking to its original goal: to share my trail journey with you.

It's a buck dancer's choice my friend
Better take my advice
You know all the rules by now 
And the fire from the ice
Will you come with me? 
Won't you come with me?
Wo, oh, what I want to know
Will you come with me?

From "Uncle John's Band" by Robert Hunter and Jerry Garcia (Grateful Dead)

Comments

"Nothing to tell now. Let the words be yours, I'm done with mine."ref.