Six years ago, my BDN editors asked me — a full-time reporter — to start one of the first BDN blogs, on which I’d post a series of weekly videos and columns. A bit overwhelmed, I searched for a topic, something I knew that I could write about, photograph and film every week. I chose something I was passionate about. I chose hiking.
In hindsight, I didn’t know what I was getting myself into. I didn’t realize how many trails there are in Maine. And I certainly didn’t anticipate the column and video series lasting this long.
Now nearly 300 hikes later, my editors have asked me to take a break from the hiking column and videos, to spread my wings and write about a greater variety of topics. I’m not going anywhere. In fact, I’ll still be writing mostly about outdoorsy things, including trails. But you won’t be seeing a new hike every Tuesday.
I’m not sure if “1-minute hikes” will return. But for now, we have some new excitement to look forward to.
Here’s the plan: My blog will live on. The archive of nearly 300 hikes will live on, and I’ll be posting occasional roundups of hikes of common themes — like the best fall foliage hikes or where to hike to see some really stunning waterfalls. And there’s more good news. I’ll be writing a monthly column about outdoor adventures. My list for these potential adventures includes canoeing, camping, foraging, rock climbing, mountain biking, horseback riding and more.
Change is hard. It’s always been hard for me.
The “1-minute hike” column has been a huge part of my life for the past six years. Exploring a trail was something I looked forward to every week, year round. I never could have anticipated how my adventures on Maine trails, solo and with family and friends, would help me grow professionally and personally. Through my column, I developed a greater love for Maine’s wild spaces, for the state’s plants and animals and various ecosystems. I also developed a greater appreciation for the people who work hard so the public can enjoy these things: the conservationists, wildlife biologists, trail builders and trail maintainers.
But above all things, it’s the readers I’ve gained over the years and the interactions I’ve had with those readers that has meant the most to me.
When I wrote about getting lost on the way to a trailhead, I had about a dozen complete strangers reaching out to me, offering me detailed driving directions. Some even offered to hike the mountain with me. (I may still take you up on that.) When I misidentified a butterfly, I received a kind email pointing out the difference between a monarch and a viceroy. And following the publication of my first hiking guidebook, “Family Friendly Hikes in Maine,” I was blown away by the support readers showed at my book launch and the various book talks I’ve given throughout the state.
I won’t forget the reader who told me that my column and video series helped her stay connected to the outdoors while she underwent cancer treatment. Just as I won’t forget the reader who followed my footsteps each week and lost the weight he needed to lose to be healthier and happier. Your stories have touched my heart in a big way.
As I make this big transition, I hope you’ll continue to enjoy and influence my writing for the BDN Outdoors and Homestead sections. Right now, I plan to focus on writing stories about people and how they relate to Maine’s great outdoors, whether it’s through recreation or homebuilding or artwork or just plan work. If you know someone — or a group of someones — who has a story to share, let me know. I’m just an email away: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Even if the “1-minute hike” series is never resurrected, I hope it continues to be a good resource for people searching for local trails.
And if you miss reading — and watching — my hiking column each week, I’ve decided to launch a YouTube Channel called “Adventures with Aislinn,” where I’ll post videos and content that I’ll create on my own free time. I’m working on a personal website. And my second hiking guidebook, “Maine Hikes Off the Beaten Path,” is scheduled to be released by Down East Books in collaboration with the BDN this coming June.