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Catching Up

All year I’ve had an item sitting on my To Do list, woefully un-crossed-off: “update website.” So, here goes! Some highlights from 2014:

Way back in January I published a fun story on SB Nation Longform: Wilderness Women, in which I competed to be named “Alaska Wilderness Woman 2013” and earn myself an Alaskan bachelor. In March and early April, Pacific Standard ran a week-long series of pieces I wrote about “opting out” of society in one form or another; the series was anchored by a narrative feature called The Peacemaker, about an Alaskan militia leader accused of conspiring to murder federal officials.

In early May I attempted Canada’s national standardized fitness test for wildland firefighters, and wrote about it for the Yukon News. In June, SB Nation Longform published Why We Play, a piece on risk-taking and sports that is part-personal essay and part-reporting about a remarkable local athlete, Darryl Tait. Birth of a Birder, a World Hum story about my April 2013 trip to the Galapagos, was published in June too. And in July my story about the little-known WWII internment of the Aleuts, from the Spring 2014 issue of Maisonneuve, went online.

I’ve continued to contribute regularly to Up Here and Up Here Business magazines. I wrote two pieces for Up Here’s history column, “Looking Back”: one on the notorious Chilkoot Trail avalanche that killed dozens of gold-seekers, and one on the sad story of Bruce Johnson, Canada’s first Yukon Quest champion. I profiled Chief Mathieya Alatini of the Kluane First Nation for Up Here Business. I also put a lot of work into a feature about the mystery of a dead German hiker:
A Cold and Deadly Place.

SKYE on AOL, the website that originally published my story about the “McCandless pilgrims,” has gone offline – I republished the story using Creatavist: Chasing Alexander Supertramp. I’m also thrilled to announce that the story has been included in an anthology that was just released: The Best Women’s Travel Writing Volume 10.

What else? I appeared on Gangrey: The Podcast, which was really fun. I traveled to new-to-me places in Alaska, the Yukon, NWT, British Columbia, Alberta, and the Lower 48. I landed some big story contracts at big publications, and I’m excited to share those pieces when they’re published. I’ve been working very part-time at a local radio station, reading the news and sports live on air.

I guess I can’t expect to jam a year’s worth of updates into one post, so I’ll stop here. More soon.

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It’s been ages since I’ve posted here – I’ve had my hands full with work and some on-again, off-again health issues that, happily, seem to be under control now.

I’m really excited about my latest story. It’s a long look at the “McCandless pilgrims” who risk their lives trying to reach the bus from Krakauer’s Into the Wild. I put a lot of work into it, and got a lot of help and information from some amazing people I connected with along the way, and I am very pleased with how it came out:
Chasing Alexander Supertramp

I’ve also got a new story out in the December issue of Up Here that deals with similar themes. It’s called Hiding Among Us, and it’s about the long tradition of people coming to the North to disappear.

Another Up Here story, from the September issue, is about a group of miners abandoned on Great Slave Lake: The Great Escape From Outpost Island Mine

Meanwhile, some amazing news arrived in September: My Vela essay,
Not an Ike and Tina Thing, was listed in the Notable Selections of The Best American Essays 2013, while Three Kites on the Ice landed in the notables for The Best American Sports Writing 2013.

I’ve got a bunch of new features in the works for early 2014. Stay tuned!

Update: The story has a new online home now. Thanks!

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Two things: Earlier this month I had a second story published over at SB Nation Longform. It’s about the centennial of the first ascent of Denali, the tallest mountain in North America, and I got to go to base camp to report it, which was challenging and great. Check it out: The High One.

Second, on Friday night I got word that my Up Here story about Skagway’s seasonal workers – ‘I Found the Sweet Life’ – won the Western Magazine Award for best travel and leisure story. Exciting! Up Here won a second WMA, in profile writing, for my pal Katherine Laidlaw’s story about an activist in Nunavut.

I spent the first week of June in Toronto, at MagNet, Canada’s national magazines conference, where I also attended a handful of journalism-related galas. Up Here Business won best magazine of the year at the Kenneth R. Wilson Awards (honoring the best in professional, trade and B2B mags in Canada), and Up Here won small-circulation mag of the year at the Editors’ Choice Awards. We were nominated in five categories at the National Magazine Awards but came away from that one empty-handed – still an incredible week for a pair of small magazines from the sub-Arctic!

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A heap of stuff just went online. First up, my travel story from Up Here’s July/August 2012 issue, ‘I Found the Sweet Life,’ is now online in honor of its nomination for a Western Magazine Award. Yay.

Second, I have two features in the May issue of Up Here Business: a profile, The Queen of Klondike Korner, and the cover story about the Yukon’s growing “knowledge sector”: Off the Grid But in the Know. I also wrote this sidebar to the cover story, profiling a Yukon-based talent manager.

Over at Outside, I’ve had four more “Adventure Adviser” columns go live: What are the best cheap boat trips?, Where’s the best hiking under the Midnight Sun?, Should I climb Denali? and What are the best hikes in Britain?

I’m keeping busy. More to come!

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I came home from the Aleutians to find all sorts of good news waiting.

Last week, we learned that Up Here and Up Here Business have been nominated for a combined five National Magazine Awards and nine Western Magazine Awards. At the WMAs, two of my Up Here features, The One Who Jumped and ‘I Found the Sweet Life,’ are nominated in the Human Experience and Travel and Leisure categories, and Up Here and UHB are both nominated for Magazine of the Year – Alberta/NWT. Up Here Business was nominated for a further five Kenneth R. Wilson Awards, including Magazine of the Year – Professional.

I’m also excited to be filling in for the next while as Outside’s online “Adventure Adviser” columnist. I’ll be writing two short pieces each week, answering questions about travel and outdoor adventure, and my first two columns are already up: Should I be worried about sinkholes? and Does beer attract bears? Send me a question if you’ve got one!

Meanwhile, the April/May issue of Up Here includes my feature about the current state of Yukon mushing: End of the Trail? And I have two features in the May issue of Up Here Business, including the cover story about the Yukon’s growing “knowledge sector.” They’re not online yet, but you can check out the cover.

Finally, check out my friend Sam’s story about the Yukon’s homegrown Filipino basketball league. The North just keeps getting more interesting the longer I stay here.

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I’m really excited about this one. My story about the Yukon Quest’s handlers – the support crews who work behind the scenes throughout the race – is now live at SB Nation Longform. Check it out:

No Sleep ‘Til Fairbanks

Elsewhere, Vela has a hot new redesign, and we’re also soliciting suggestions for female-authored books that are overlooked in the usual best-of books lists.

My feature in the February issue of Up Here Business is now online; it’s about a new fresh fish truck that’s finally bringing the local catch to Whitehorse. I also have a long Q&A with the Yukon’s top expediter in the March UHB, and a couple of small items in the March issue of Up Here.

Finally, at World Hum, I was pleased to publish Brian Kevin’s The End of Wend, an essay that ponders what the crunchy mag’s demise says about travelers and travel publishing.

It’s been a hectic start to 2013: Lots of work on the go, plus I spent two crazy weeks on the road in February during the Yukon Quest. I’ve got more travel on the horizon, too.

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I’ve got lots of news to kick off the New Year. Most importantly, my temporary position at Up Here / Up Here Business wrapped up on December 21 – so I’m back to full time freelance writing. I learned a ton during my ten months on staff at the magazines, and I’m looking forward to applying that knowledge as I jump back into the self-employment fray. (I also expect to continue working closely with my editors at Up Here and UHB as a freelancer.)

Earlier this week, my latest went live at Outside: It’s a big winter service package called 40 Frozen Experiences of a Lifetime. And in December, I was thrilled to contribute a short essay to the “Why’s This So Good?” series over at Harvard’s Nieman Storyboard: Why’s This So Good? No. 68: Jonathan Lethem and the Godfather of Soul.

I’ve got big plans and a busy travel schedule for 2013. First up, in February, a couple of assignments will take me back on the Yukon Quest trail again. Looking forward to it!

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The story that resulted from my Stewart-Cassiar research trip is now online! (The print mag should be available by the end of this week.) It’s about a planeload of gold gone missing in the wilds of Northern B.C.

Check it out: What Happened on the Iskut?

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This is the Bell II Lodge, my home base for a reporting trip down the Stewart-Cassiar Highway into northwestern B.C. a couple weeks back. It was an amazing spot, and I can’t wait for the story to come out in the next issue of Up Here at the end of this month.

Meanwhile, a couple of my recent Up Here Business stories are now online: Into the Wild, about the business of wilderness tourism in the North, and Staking a Claim, about several groundbreaking new agreements between mining companies and First Nations. Check ’em out.

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My story about a strange Arctic suicide is in the Oct/Nov issue of Up Here, on newsstands next week. It’s also now online: The One Who Jumped.

This was a tough one to work on, and a major departure from my usual travel-focused writing. I hope you like it.

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