Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Recent Work-Interview with Outside editor

Here's a Q&A interview I did with the executive editor of Outside magazine. It ran in the March issue of Traverse magazine.

Sea kayakers, Lovers Leap arch, Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore

When I saw the Upper Peninsula included in Outside’s annual editors' choice list I did two things: 1) pinched myself 2) got the mag’s executive editor Sam Moulton on the horn to see what was up with the U.P. lovefest.

The Feb. 2012 issue has your annual editors’ choice list called the “perfect things.” This year there are 63 of them, with the U.P. at #46. How the hell did we get in there?
Personally I’m a big fan of the Upper Midwest. I grew up in Wisconsin and spent a lot of time rucking around the U.P. We took father-son ski trips to the Hurley area and our dads would let us drink a bit. Growing up, the U.P. was always the spot I was going on an adventure. There’s actually a large contingent of Upper Midwesterners at the magazine. We have staff from North Dakota, Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan. The list is things we agree on, and the U.P. was one of them.
Many of the entries have brief descriptions of what they are, but the U.P. doesn’t. It’s just listed “46. The U.P.” Why the mystery?
We originally had an explanation of about 50-60 words, but then cut it. We figured those in the know don’t need it explained. The U.P. has that whole Jim Harrison thing going on, the really raw, real wilderness feel, some economic depression—but with a good spirit.

 What do you say to those in the know who might be peeved that the nation’s leading active-lifestyle magazine broke the vow of secrecy on the general awesomeness of the U.P.? You kissed and told man.
I don’t’ think there’ll be that many, but I guess I’d refer them to a map and remind them the U.P. is still physically a long way away from just about anything. I don’t’ think their trails will get crowded any time soon.

[Laughing] Not really, no. But scenics do surprisingly well on the cover, so I guess some sort of scenic like sea kayaking at Pictured Rocks or mountain biking on an incredibly flowy trail.

 The only other region specifically mentioned in the list was British Columbia (#31), known for it’s insane biking, skiing, paddling and overall outdoor wonderfulness. Can the U.P. ever be recognized as a travel destination like that?
I think so, on one level. The landscape is one of a kind, it’s off the beaten path and there’s Lake Superior—an ocean masquerading as a lake. The potential is there, but there needs to be the continued investment of money in things like trail building, and then the infrastructure that follows. Coffee shops, bike-friendly hotels, etc.

Golden moment on Copper Harbor's "The Flow" mountain bike trail
Aaron Peterson is a writer and photographer covering active travel in Michigan's Upper Peninsula and the Lake Superior region. Check out the website for more photography photos pictures of Michigan's Upper Peninsula and Lake Superior.

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