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Why Create This Blog?

Updated: Aug 4, 2020

January 26th, 2020

In an environment where “an endless drove of blogs” are created on a daily basis, it’s perfectly reasonable to question why the world needs another blog. There are “nearly 1000 websites... created every single minute of every single day.” Anyone aware of those sorts of numbers and yet still interested in moving forward must ask themselves: why start a blog or website in the first place?


Surely not every website or blog is unique, valuable, captivating, or destined to be successful. The degree to which a blog is unique, valuable, or captivating is highly subjective and may not necessarily be linked to its success. As for the success of a blog, measured by its traffic, only time will tell.


Why Does Anyone Create a Blog?

In a 2015 article, the HuffPost lists several reasons that people blog. Among these reasons are to gain exposure for a business, to share knowledge, to build awareness, or to connect with others who share the same passion.


For me, and for BackCountry Chronic, sharing knowledge, raising awareness, and connecting over a passion is only part of it. Those reasons factor into the equation, but they don’t reveal the entire scope of my motivation.


Before beginning this blog, and especially now, I often electronically flip through outdoor and travel blogs for hiking and other backcountry recommendations. Most of these blogs have engaging written content and truly captivating photos that send me off daydreaming about adventures far and wide. As I read articles like “The Top 3 Summit Hikes in X State,” or “Hiking the Grand Canyon Rim-to-Rim in a Day,” or “A Guide for Thru-Hiking the Appalachian Trail,” I daydream, yes, but then one thing becomes intensely palpable: I may not ever be able to thru-hike one of the country’s longest trails or summit even a lesser mountain in the Appalachians, nevermind the Rockies.


Content for a Different Kind of Outdoor Enthusiast

Hiking with trekking poles and Ankylosing Spondylitis

In other words, there’s a wealth of blogs and online resources for the skilled and able hiker, but there’s markedly less out there for those of us who have limitations, some self-imposed (through experience I’ve learned that 3-5 miles is a good hike for me, but pushing further likely leads to intense pain and a possible flare-up of my Ankylosing Spondylitis).


A lot of outdoor blogs showcase grand adventures, long thru-hikes, or strenuous treks up 14ers. For some of us, those outdoor adventures are unrealistic.


In this sense, my blog aims to fulfill a spot in the outdoor blogging world that’s lacking--for outdoor enthusiasts like me. I don’t know if I’d call it a need or vacancy so much as an area that’s visibly thin. And as Toni Morrison advised in her 1981 Ohio Arts Council speech “if there’s a book that you want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it,” of course substituting blog for book!


Finding a Community

But I can’t talk about outdoor adventures suited for those with limitations without discussing my own limiting factors, nor do I want to. Chronic illnesses all come with their own unique challenges, and even those of us with the same disease have symptoms that manifest in different ways. In explaining my particular challenges, I can also explain why certain adventures are better than others, and share some of the tips I’ve learned along the way.

A lot of outdoor blogs showcase grand adventures, long thru-hikes, or strenuous treks up 14ers. For some of us, those outdoor adventures are unrealistic.

More than that, I hope that sharing my challenges out in the backcountry and in my day-to-day life help chronic illness sufferers find similarities they might not otherwise see in family members and friends. People suffering chronic, systemic diseases often cope better when they have a community. And often, that community is found online.


Since Ankylosing Spondylitis (AS) is generally only known to those with the disease, or those who know someone with the disease, finding a community can be hard. And when it comes to finding a community with special interests (outdoor enthusiasts), the task is even more difficult.


Raising Awareness for Ankylosing Spondylitis

Even online, communities for those with AS are few and far between. AS does not have a lot of name recognition--not in the way say Lupus or Rheumatoid Arthritis does. It seems the lack of awareness for AS even extends to the medical world, as sufferers wait years for an AS diagnosis partially because of its elusiveness and the vast array of symptoms reported, and because pain in the spine is often dismissed as muscle strains or posture related (this was my story).


Woman hiking with Ankylosing Spondylitis

If it often takes years to be diagnosed with AS, then there’s presumably an untold number of people out there with AS but without a diagnosis. Therefore, I feel the need to discuss how AS affects my life, not just on the trail but in the office, while traveling, at home, and out in public.


My struggles with AS are not unique, but they do limit my ability to complete long, strenuous adventures, and they do cause daily struggles and complications. Hopefully this blog finds a community with others who have limitations but still want to hike, camp, and explore, and hopefully it finds a community with those suffering from a chronic illness, chronic pain, chronic fatigue, and Ankylosing Spondylitis.


-Jessica

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