A Book, a Bus, and Frustration (Part 2)

The story of why MileStepper came to be

Continued from [A Book, a Bus, and Frustration (Part 1)]

A new friend

I wasn’t even interested in backpacking when I gave the book “A Walk in the Woods” to Steve, my friend and MileStepper co-founder. I just thought it was a funny story and wanted to pass it on to a fellow reader, someone I saw on my commute on a regular basis.

Their experience in the book was actually pretty miserable in my opinion, but Steve was hooked. He picked up a few more books on hiking and gear, which I borrowed out of curiosity, and it started to strike an interest in the back of my head. Before I knew it, I was making a list of gear to buy.

Challenges with trip planning

I’m a planner by nature. Some are, some aren’t. When I set out on my first solo trip, I realized how hard adventure planning is; there are so many details, collected by grazing the internet and asking around. I didn’t have a good way to collect all that info, and I wanted to share my trips with others.

I tried a few online note taking programs and office tools, but it all felt like a square peg and a round hole. One tool worked for one task, but would be miserable at another. I have a half dozen travel ideas spinning around in my head at any given time. Maybe biking to another state, or kayak camping on an island. How could I sort and share all those details?


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One of my first attempts at putting together trips with a note-taking tool. Close, but I wanted more.


How do *you* do it?

I brought the question of trip planning up with Steve, he had no solution either. Well, that’s not entirely true. His solution was that we make a trip planner. I groaned. I didn’t want to *make* it, I wanted to *use* it. We’re talking about thousands of hours of work, and it would be best if someone else did that part. I’d rather be in the woods. I set the thought aside and went on a few more trips. Trips I’d carefully planned, then lost the plans for.

We continued asking others how they planned their trips. The most common answer? Group e-mail threads.

If you want something done right, do it yourself

It hit me when I started on planning my first 100 miles of the Appalachian Trail — a complex trip that involved planning with a partner. We can do trip planning better. I shared my experience and a few ideas with Steve, he was on board and ready to have a go at it. We could make this thing, and it would work.


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My first MileStepper trip plan, my friend Chris and I needed it to navigate 8 miles of complex side trails to intersect with the Appalachian Trail for 90 miles


 

Work in progress

A year later, MileStepper is already making group trip planning more fun than ever. We’ve put together dozens of tools with many ideas yet to come. Steve and I are excited to make the outdoors more accessible to everyone.

Sketch out your adventure with friends, and share it with the world.

Greg Pries

Programmer and adventurer, MileStepper co-founder

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