Commentary

Capitol Christmas Tree, Choose Outdoors, Commentary, Essays, Joy To America, National Forests, Native Culture, Podcast, Public Land, U.S. Forest Service / 04.12.2023

Immediately following my return from Washington D.C. - I mean on the flight home – I was inundated with kind words of support and condolences for the demise of my Christmas Tree. Due to excessively high winds early in last week of November 2023, it is indeed true that the beautifully decorated holiday tree provided to the White House by the National Park Service sadly fell over. News reports in photographs showed the tree lying on its side. But as I graciously replied to each of these thoughtful...

Alaska, Climate Change, Commentary, Denali, Destinations, Essays, National Geographic, National Parks, Public Land, The Arctic, Uncategorized, We are the Arctic / 24.07.2023

Just over 10 years since my first trip to Alaska’s Denali National Park, I stood near the Mountain Vista Trailhead searching through the clouds. I knew that somewhere in the distance stood a snow-covered peak whose summit stands as the highest point in North America. The horizon line loomed as a field of pale grey light behind a vast expanse of a deep green alpine tundra. The landscape was dotted with a few tall spruce trees scattered sporadically in a low-elevation taiga forest. Beautiful, but not what I...

Black History, Commentary, Juneteenth, Outdoors For All, Uncategorized, Unhidden / 19.06.2023

On the new federal holiday of Juneteenth, we celebrate the end of slavery in the United States and the emancipation of every citizen. This marks the third week of my month-long summer course, Outdoors For All at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. We’re half-way through. As I remind my students, this is not a “Black” holiday. Today we acknowledge that everyone has the inalienable rights of “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Taught at the Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies this class explores the disparities of access to...

#BlackLivesMatter, Black Lives Matter, Commentary, Essays, National Geographic, National Monuments, National Parks, Public Land, Unhidden, Yellowstone, Yosemite / 13.02.2023

On a recent visit to Yellowstone National Park, I had the chance to see with my own eyes for the first time the inscription carved over the Roosevelt Arch. Previously I had only seen pictures. I have the rare privilege to be among the many writers and scholars who serve as topic experts on National Geographic Expeditions to remote areas around the world. This landmark in particular was a gap in my pedigree that I was very happy to fill. It's in these moments when I am happy...

#BlackLivesMatter, Black In National Parks Week, Black Lives Matter, Commentary, Diversity / 23.08.2022

More than a year ago I received a disappointing message via email. I had recently published an article in National Geographic Travel about an experience I shared guiding a group of Black and Latino outdoor leaders from Detroit and Grand Rapids Michigan on their first ice climbing trip. Amid the Covid-19 Pandemic, with the support of grant funding from the National Society and Patagonia, I put together a modest expedition to visit the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore along the frozen cliffs of Lake Superior. The purpose of this project...

#BlackLivesMatter, Adventure Activism, Alaska, American Rivers, Black Lives Matter, Climate Change, Commentary, Destinations, Diversity, Environmental Journalism, Environmental Protection, Fly Fishing, National Parks, On Assignment / 22.07.2022

This week in Alaska’s Gates of the Arctic National Park, I landed a two and half-foot Northern Pike, the biggest fish I’ve caught in my life. As a small group of anglers, all of African descent, our team on the BlackWaters Expedition was delivered by floatplane to a narrow beach on the banks of the Kobuk River. Led by Chad Brown, founder of the environmental engagement nonprofit Love Is King, this adventure into the least visited of all the national parks aimed to reimagine the face of Arctic...