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Archive for the ‘Updates’ Category

I read a lot this year, much more than I managed in 2012 when I was working full time for two magazines and freelancing heavily on the side.

I finally read Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood. And I read some more recent nonfiction classics: The Beak of the Finch, by Jonathan Weiner, while I was cruising in the Galapagos in early April, and Moneyball and Friday Night Lights while I was stuck at home sick, unable to play any sports myself, through the entire month of August. I read a book everyone was talking about a year ago, a year late: Lean In, by Sheryl Sandberg. I read books by writers whose work and lives I follow on Twitter every day: The Skies Belong to Us, by Brendan Koerner, while I was waiting out a snowstorm in my tent at Denali base camp, and Ingenious, by Jason Fagone, also during that sickbed August.

This fall I read two dark, searing books, one set in Somalia and one set in Alaska: A House in the Sky, by Amanda Lindhout and Sara Corbett, and Tom Kizzia’s Pilgrim’s Wilderness. I don’t read much fiction, but I stayed up all night reading Benjamin Percy’s werewolf epic, Red Moon. And as 2013 winds down, I have two books sitting halfway-read beside my bed: Wild Ones, by Jon Mooallem, and Cheryl Strayed’s Tiny Beautiful Things.

I read shorter pieces of writing, too, lots and lots of them. A few stand out in particular: The ones I still find myself telling people about, at a party or over coffee, like Mac McClelland’s Is PTSD Contagious? Or the ones I pass along to my parents or close friends, trying to explain to them the type of storytelling I want to do, like Confessions of a Drone Warrior, by Matthew Power, or The Most Amazing Bowling Story Ever, by Michael Mooney. And the ones I just keep dwelling on, thinking and re-thinking, like Patricia O’Connor’s Private Ceremonies.

I wrote a lot in 2012, and a lot of it was stuff I was really proud of; it seems like I have less of both those things to show for myself in 2013. But I was excited to write two long features for SB Nation Longform: No Sleep ‘Til Fairbanks, about the support crews who work behind the scenes of the Yukon Quest, and The High One, about the 100th anniversary of the first ascent of Denali. I had fun putting together this roundup of the North’s hidden misfits and miscreants, for Up Here. And I was really pleased with how months of work came together in the end for my story about the “McCandless pilgrims” phenomenon, Chasing Alexander Supertramp.

I’ve got lots of exciting stories in the works already for 2014. And plenty on my reading list, too – Happy New Year!

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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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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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espanola booby sunset 1 small
I got home earlier this week from an incredible assignment: a Galapagos cruise with Lindblad Expeditions. I’d heard big things about the islands, and they lived up to the hype. I’ll be writing more about the trip soon – in the meantime, here’s a photo I took of a group of Nazca boobies (cousins of the famous blue-footed boobies) at sunset.

I’ve been home for less than 72 hours, but tomorrow I’m off again, to Anchorage and then the Aleutians, on a three-week reporting trip. I’ll get back to Whitehorse in early May, just in time for the Yukon summer to get rolling.

More stories and photos coming soon!

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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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