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Adventure, Survival, Wellness / December 28, 2017

Our best stories of 2017

Written by: Matt Minich

It’s that time of year again, when publications fill their content holes with flattering retrospectives that feature the best writing and photography they produced over the last year.

It’s something we do for you, our readers, as a reward for sticking with us for the last 12 months. It’s also a great way to churn out fresh content while the writing staff takes a holiday break.

So without further ado, here are our six favorite pieces from 2017:


1. Women took back the Adventure Memoir

As noted by author Bernadette Murphy, even adventure stories told by and about women are often still written around male agency.

“Women in road films are rarely driven by a pursuit of adventure—more likely they’re in flight from abusive males,” writes Murpy. “Where are the heroines’ journeys that are life enriching?”

In “Women are reclaiming the adventure story,” writer Stacy McKenna profiled the authors of two recent memoirs that have bucked that trend.


2. We found MTB heaven in Arkansas

Yes, Arkansas.

That’ll probably come as no surprise to anyone from Bentonville, which has been quietly building a network of world-class mountain bike trails for more than a decade. But it is news to many in the MTB community who often pass over all of middle America in favor of hotspots like Crested Butte, Moab, or British Columbia.

In “Middle America has its first great MTB town,” your humble editorial director interviewed local bike pros, politicians, and business owners to find out how a sleepy corporate HQ became mountain biking’s next big thing.


3. Climbers lost a legend

In the elite climbing community, death is a constant presence. The field loses leaders every year to falls, avalanches, and other accidents.

But when 27-year-old Hayden Kennedy took his own life in October, that community faced a less familiar style of tragedy.

In her piece about Kennedy’s suicide, writer Brenna Stevens examined the ways in which climbers, journalists, and others in the adventure community rallied in the face of darkness.


4. Lael Wilcox Smoked the Baja Divide

Lael Wilcox is a bikepacking machine. She’s taken the top spot in some of the longest and toughest bike races in the world, like the 2,745-mile Tour Divide or the 4,400-mile Trans Am.

So when she mentioned that the 1,700 Baja Divide was the hardest ride she’d ever done, our ears perked up.

Writer Jan Bennett interviewed Wilcox about her record-setting ride of the Divide, which is the newest must-do trail in the in long-distance biking world.


5. We learned to survive the big one

The year 2017 was a nailbiter, not least because of an increase in tensions with a now nuclear North Korea. So we asked a nuclear weapons expert for some tips on surviving the worst case scenario. Just in case.

The resulting piece was one of our best-read articles of 2017. Seems we aren’t the only ones feeling a bit nervous.


6. We explored The Tian-Shan Mountains

The mountains of central Asia are seldom publicized as a destination for U.S. travelers. The area is very hard (and expensive) to reach, and vast cultural differences make travel there a serious logistical challenge.

Writer Stacey McKenna went anyway. She spent eight days horsepacking through Kyrgyzstan’s Tian-Shan Mountains, and returned to write a stunning article that captures both the austere beauty of the landscape and the generous character of the semi-nomadic people who call it home.

Is there an article from our journal that you think belongs on this list? Email [email protected] to let us know.

about the author

Matt Minich

Matt Minich is Editorial Director for Shoulders of Giants. He has spent more than a decade writing, editing, and curating content about outdoor sports and adventure. As an adventure journalist he has climbed peaks in Patagonia, rappelled waterfalls in Colorado, B.A.S.E. jumped in Moab, and sampled fermented horse milk in Kyrgyzstan.

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