Read This Now: ‘The Ferries and the Last Frontier’

26 03 2012

Alright, alright. So I’m throwing shame and modesty to the wind, and promoting one of my own Northern stories as a “Read This Now.” But this has been in the works for awhile, and I’m really excited to see it published.

My four-part essay series, The Ferries and the Last Frontier, is going live on World Hum throughout this week. It’s about my January trip through the Alaskan Panhandle by state ferry. Part one, “The Roughest Place in the World,” is up now – the rest will follow daily through to Thursday. Check it out!


Off to Yellowknife

14 03 2012

I leave for the NWT capital tomorrow. I’ll be spending a couple of months there, working at the Up Here head office before coming back to Whitehorse to work remotely. Looking forward to it!

I visited Yellowknife briefly when I was really young. I don’t remember a thing. Visually (and probably more generally, too) I think it’s going to be quite a change from Whitehorse – for one thing, it’s on the shore of Great Slave Lake, one of the largest lakes in the world. Also, there are highrises – I’ll even be working in one! – which is a major visual departure from Whitehorse’s four-storey rule.

I’ll hope to post some first impressions over the weekend.

See the Ravages of Denali at the Anchorage Museum

12 03 2012

Frostbite. Blisters. Exhaustion. Sun and wind burn. And that’s before we even get talking about the emotional impact of summiting Mt. McKinley, North America’s tallest.

A photography exhibit on now at the always-excellent Anchorage Museum aims to capture the scars the mountain inflicts on its visitors. Photographer Tim Remick set up at base camp and shot climbers as they returned from the summit – the results, from the images I’ve seen online, are powerful.

After: Portraits From Denali runs until April 15. Check it out if you’re able!

Read This Now: ‘Hell Frozen Over’

8 03 2012

Sportsnet Magazine has a long feature on this year’s Yukon Quest, and it really brings the trials and joys of the race to life.

Here’s an excerpt from the start in Fairbanks:

Each musher takes one last walk down the gang line, scratching vibrating ears and shouting encouragement to the dogs. A whoop goes up from the crowd as each countdown finishes, and one by one, the mushers yank out the snow hooks anchoring their sleds, finally allowing their teams to lurch out of the start chute and down the frozen river toward the edge of town. Eventually, the crowds thin and recede, leaving each musher alone on the silent trail — nothing but a feral landscape, the rhythmic panting of a dog team on the move and sled runners whispering to the snow.

Read the whole thing. Then, for good measure, watch these amazing videos again.

The Triumphant Return of Travelers North

28 02 2012

Many months later than planned, but I’m back! (I’ve been back in the North since August, but, well, life happened and the blog wound up neglected.)

Here’s the abbreviated recap: I spent June and July road-tripping from Whitehorse to LA and back, then, in August, I came home and got a job with a mining exploration company. I spent a month dirt-bagging in the Yukon bush, then a couple more months core teching, core splitting, and doing odd jobs around the company office and warehouse here in Whitehorse. I’ve been back to full-time freelancing since December – I’ve been doing a lot of work for Up Here and Up Here Business, and I also signed on as the Yukon Quest‘s in-house writer, which meant traveling the entire Quest trail. In January, I found time to do a ferry tour of Southeast Alaska, too.

Highlights of the last six months worth of Northern travels? There have been plenty.

My daily helicopter commute from camp to mountaintop during my dirt-bagging stint was incredible. I was in gorgeous country in the Rackla River area, with the fall color at its peak. And on my ferry trip, I fell madly in love with Sitka, absolutely one of the most beautiful towns I’ve ever visited, with great local beer to boot. On the Quest, I saw the Northern Lights filling late-night skies, and I got to watch the mushers and their incredible sled dogs do their thing.

I’m looking forward to sharing photos, tips and stories from those trips here on the blog. I’m also looking forward to more Northern travels – in a couple of weeks I’m off to Yellowknife for a couple of months (part of my new job), and I can’t wait to explore at least one corner of NWT.

Stay tuned!

Blogging Hiatus: Travelers North is Headed South

24 04 2011

Work is taking me south for a few months (I know, I know – who lives through a Yukon winter and then leaves during the season of the midnight sun?) so I’m going to put the blog on hold until I’m back north of 60 again. Enjoy the summer, wherever you find yourself, and please do check back in September.

Read This Now: ‘The Trials of Nunavut’

2 04 2011

Today’s Globe and Mail features an excellent look at Nunavut’s ongoing struggles with violence and alcohol, its complicated history and its possible futures. On Twitter, Nunatsiaq News reporter Chris Windeyer called it the “best single piece of journalism about NU I’ve ever read. Period.”

I’m not sure how long the full story will be up before it disappears behind a subscription wall, so check it out asap. It’s a tough read at times, but worth it.