A quick look at the notebooks I’ve used to keep track of my hikes (sorry about the mixed lighting), the flip notebook at the bottom I started with in 2000 before switching to the composition notebook on the right in 2003. After filling it up in 2011, I moved to the red Moleskine on the left which is what I’m using currently. I wish I had started doing this earlier! I’ve long debated about switching to keeping my notes on the computer, both so they’d be easy to backup and easy to search, but so far I’ve resisted as this is the last area of my personal life where I still write by hand and there is a romance to the feel of pen and paper.
Early on I mostly just listed what animals I saw but I got better over the years about describing the hike as I enjoy looking back and reading through past adventures. Then I started adding if it was my first sighting of an animal, the times I started and ended, the weather conditions, and lately the distance. Perhaps most importantly was switching to gel ink pens a while back as I used to use cheap pens and some of those old notes are fading, although most are still fine as I keep them out of the light. I prefer the 0.38mm pens (uni-ball Signo RT or Pilot G2), the ink is dark so the notes are easily legible but not so heavy that they show through too much to the other side of the paper. They write smoothly, they’re comfortable, the ink lasts, and they aren’t expensive. Their only downside if that if you have a Boo he greatly enjoys knocking them to the floor.
If I have any young readers who like hiking (or parents of such), start now! The composition notebook cost about $2, the Moleskine $12, the pens about $1 each. The real investment is the time it takes to write, but I think it’s worth it.