The backcountry is full of great stories, and we’re proud to bring you this collection of some of our favorites. From an award-winning tale of a daughter confronting her family’s dark past to a tongue-in-cheek romp through the one of the country’s oldest outdoor stores, these stories exemplify the power of quality writing and the transformative experience of the outdoors.
Table of Contents:
I’m Hiking With Stupid
A Buddy Story
By Steve Friedman
Secret Agent Man
Animals can’t talk, but Ed Newcomer can. As an elite U.S. Fish & Wildlife detective, he goes undercover to protect threatened raptors, bears, even butterflies—and bring poachers and smugglers to court. Inside the agency’s latest covert operation.
By Bruce Barcott
(Don’t) Pay at the Pump
Gas prices are soaring. glaciers are melting—what’s a conscientious hiker to do? Take the bus, says our reporter, who did just that to escape downtown L.A.
By Dan Koeppel
Walking the Talk
First, John Francis stopped riding in cars. Then he stopped talking. More than three decades, two continent-spanning hikes, and countless trail miles later, he’s still following his remarkable path of protest—only now he’s not alone.
By Bill Donahue
The planet’s most dynamic landscape is full of bubbling hot springs, steaming geysers, and kaleidoscopic lava flows. Hike Iceland’s epic Laugevegur Trail, and join the action.
By Michael Lanza
The Source of All Things (winner of the National Magazine Award)
What if your favorite place in the world was ground zero for your greatest strengths and your deepest fears? What if that place was deep in one of North America’s most remote and beautiful wilderness areas? The author and her father trek into Idaho’s Sawtooth Mountains to grapple with a tragedy that has haunted them for decades.
By Tracy Ross
24 Hours of L.L. Bean
It’s the gear world’s ultimate endurance event: a full day and night roaming the aisles at Bean’s flagship store in Freeport, Maine. Will our man survive?
By Dan Koeppel
On a snowy night in New Hampshire, a Congressional candidate crashed his car, wandered into the woods, and collapsed. Twenty-seven hours later, rescuers carried him out. And then the real drama began.
By David Howard
The Hardest Miles
Survivors of the Bataan death march overcame one of history’s most grueling walks. What kept them on their feet? And could you do the same? Every year, more than 4,000 people hike through the New Mexico desert to find out.
By Evelyn Spence
I Will Survive
Flesh-eating bears. Dive-bombing eagles. Can a regular guy escape certain death armed with only the clothes on his back and the skills he’s learned on T.V.?
By Steve Friedman
The Onion vs. Mr. Magoo
Competition boils over during a 5,600-mile footrace on the country’s hardest trail.
By Andrew Tilin
Shock and Awe
You think climbing Rainier is tough? Try it blind. Or with one leg. Then see who you pity.
By Michael Perry
The most remote spot in the Lower 48 is inside Yellowstone National Park. It’s also the goal of our correspondent, who travels deep into the ancestral home of grizzlies, wolves, and elk to gauge the state of wilderness in our nation’s first preserve. What he encounters—and what it says about the solitude backpackers treasure—will surprise you.
By Mark Jenkins