In accord with my inner geek, I started keeping track of my trail distance and gain when I switched mostly to hiking in 2008. These data were accumulated basically for fitness tracking – and maybe for a little friendly competition with other hiking bloggers.

Then, when I launched this blog in March of 2016, WordPress started generating even more data for me – at a minimum, how many times a given post was viewed. And then, in October of 2019, Google Analytics started shoving even MORE data at me – 28-day active users being the most understandable speck of their data torrent. So I was already awash in data when the Pandemic struck in March of 2020.

Much has already been said about how hiking rose to prominence during the Pandemic. For those who weren’t totally locked down (or in) and who had access to the outdoors, hiking was deemed a virtuous, virus-safe activity. You could enjoy the healthy advantages of Nature with plenty of social distancing and without a mask (at least if the trail wasn’t too crowded ๐Ÿ™„). I knew this in the abstract. What I didn’t expect to see was this sudden interest in hiking showing up in data from my little blog.

But there it was. Both WordPress and Google Analytics (which count content engagement somewhat differently) showed sharp peaks of interest in the summers of 2020 (when the original virus was loose) and again in 2021 (when the “old” virus had been supplanted by its more transmissible variant).

And then, as ephemeral as a mayfly hatch, the surge was over. The deep desire to get back to normal, aided and abetted by vaccines, effective treatments, and virus burn-out, had regained the upper hand. By the time 2021 rolled to a close, my site’s views and users had retreated to their pre-pandemic levels.

I can’t know if this surge translated into more actual hikes but I’d like to think it did. ๐Ÿ˜Š I’d also like to think that some of the people whom the Pandemic pushed into hiking are still hitting the trail from time to time. ๐Ÿ˜„ If so, then perhaps a little good came out of all the personal and social suffering wrought by COVID. Perhaps…