A story I wrote for Coastal Living just won bronze in this year’s Lowell Thomas Travel Journalism Competition. The story was about a foodie road trip that my wife, Hilly, and I took along California’s Central Coast. We ate some great local, organic food. We stayed in some fancy places. And we got to take our son, Theo, who was just one month old. It was our first family trip, and it was unforgettable. The piece was beautifully photographed by Jessica Sample. You can read the full story online here.
I’ve been interested in a mountain in Myanmar for some time. It’s called Hkakabo Razi, and at 19,295 feet, it’s the highest mountain in Southeast Asia. It’s also one of the most inaccessible mountains in the world. It takes weeks of walking through a snake-infested jungle just to reach the base of the mountain. It’s only been successfully climbed once, in 1996, by Japanese climber Takashi Ozaki, who later died on Everest. Last year I learned that National Geographic and the North Face were mounting an expedition to climb the mountain. The leader was a woman named Hilaree O’Neill. I didn’t know anything about O’Neill, so I started looking around. I was impressed by her toughness and success in the traditionally male-dominated world of mountaineering. I pitched a profile about her to Outside, and the story is in this month’s issue and available online here.
It was a bad season for wildfires in the West, and the situation is still dire in California. Here in Montana we had thick smoke in the air for weeks. Washington had its worst season ever. In Alaska, more than 5 million acres burned. Idaho and Oregon were also in flames. I contributed a small sidebar about the severity of the season to a compelling feature by Tim Dickinson about how climate change is affecting wildfires. My sidebar isn’t in the online version, but it’s in the Sept. 24 print issue, on stands now.
I did some writing about rivers for the Outdoor Industry Association recently. I compiled a list of the top five rivers for recreation in the United States. (The Arkansas, the Ocoee, the Colorado, the Chattooga, and the Deschuttes made the cut, but it was difficult to pick.) I also wrote about the way rivers are protected. (Browns Canyon, on the Arkansas, was recently named a National Monument, and is a good case study in how to preserve part of a special river.) I also wrote about conservation issues on America’s rivers. Water flows, dam management, and dam removal are big topics in that area. Patagonia is a company leading the charge in removing unnecessary dams around the country.
I was in Holland recently, reporting a story about beachcombing. The story won’t be out until next spring, but here’s a glimpse at some of the things I found. The gloves–the literal Dutch translation is “hand shoes”–are from North Sea fishermen. And what’s that in the middle? A message in a bottle, that I found in a pile of kelp! It made my year.
I had another chance to pair fishing with work recently in a Men’s Journal roundup of the 17 best places to fly fish in Montana. I called some fly shops, flipped through some guides, and consulted my personal “research” on these waters to came up with this list. It gave me a hankering to explore even more of Montana’s trout country.
Jon Krakauer’s latest book tackles acquaintance rape in a college town. Acquaintance rape is a national issue–contrary to the stranger-in-the-bushes myth, the vast majority of rapists know their victims. It’s also the most unreported crime in America. Krakauer describes it well in his latest book, “Missoula: Rape and the Justice System in a College Town.” Missoula, Montana, is used to getting press for its fly fishing, liberal arts university, and outdoor sports. Many locals feel attacked by a best-selling author setting a book about rape here. Others are happy the book has kick-started some much needed conversation and soul-searching. Krakauer came to Missoula Wednesday night to face the town he profiled. More than 600 people crowded a hotel ballroom to see him. I wrote about the evening–and what Missoula has done to improve its response to sexual assault–for Outside’s website. Here’s the link.