NOBA Medallion

Winners of the 2022
National Outdoor Book Awards












Halcyon JourneyWinner.  Halcyon Journey:  In Search of the Belted Kingfisher by Marina Richie.  Oregon State University Press, Corvallis. 
ISBN  9780870712036

The kingfisher is the halcyon of Greek mythology, a bird with magical powers who could calm the waters of the sea when it nested.  In this beautifully rendered book, Marina Richie sets out on a halcyon quest, an obsession actually, to find and observe a nesting pair of kingfishers.  But first she must find the nest.  We hike along with her, morning after chilly morning, as she searches the banks of a creek near her home in Montana.  As we follow along, she adroitly weaves into her narrative scientific studies, family stories, and the influence of her naturalist father.  All those chilly mornings are finally rewarded when she finds the birds’ nesting hole in the side of a cutbank.  The obsession broadens in scope and sends her on far-flung adventures to other continents to learn more about these mythic birds.  This is superb nature writing:  engrossing, enlightening and illuminating – and heralds the introduction of a new, powerful voice of the genre.


 Outdoor Literature (Fiction)  

BreathlessWinner. Breathless:  A Thriller by Amy McCulloch.  Viking/Penguin Random House (Canada), Toronto.  ISBN 978035242852

Hold on to your seats.  This spine-tingling novel will transport you to the icy slopes of Manaslu, the eighth highest peak in the world.  One climber dies from an accident.  Then another, but this time, the realization is spreading through the team that it’s no accident. There is a murderer present.  Who might be next?  It is no coincidence that author Amy McCulloch so expertly captures the thrill and dangers of high altitude climbing in this book.  She is a Himalayan climber, having summited Manaslu, the youngest Canadian woman to do so.  There are very few well written and realistic works of fiction on climbing and this gripping thriller is clearly one.

 Outdoor Literature (Non-fiction)

Was It Worth ItWinner. Was it Worth It?  A Wilderness Warrior’s Long Trail Home by Doug Peacock.  Patagonia Books, Ventura, CA.  ISBN  9781952338045

The first thing you notice about Doug Peacock’s writing is his devil-may-care attitude.  His experience in Vietnam certainly plays a role in that temperament.  After returning from military duty there in the 1960’s, all he wanted was to spend time alone in the wilds of the West.  In particular, he found solace studying and filming grizzly bears in Yellowstone.  From Yellowstone, he expanded his range, travelling to Mexico to track down the remnants of a grizzly population.  Instead of being the tracker, however, he was the tracked when one chilling night he and his companion were stalked by a jaguar.  The jaguar story, along with others in the book, represent some of Peacock’s best writing.  You’ll find him always questioning, always asking whether it was worth it.  Was it?  The answer lies somewhere in this engrossing read.


HeadwatersWinner.  Headwaters: The Adventures, Obsession, and Evolution of a Fly Fisherman  by Dylan Tomine.  Patagonia Books, Ventura, CA.  ISBN 9781952338076

Dylan Tomine is no slouch as a writer.  He has a light hearted approach and this book is certain to entertain whether you fish or not.  As you progress through the book, you’ll find Tomine going through a transformation.  His writing is as good as ever, but after travelling the world and returning home to the rivers of the Pacific Northwest, he comes to the realization that his life’s pursuit is in danger.  Fish that were once in abundance are dwindling.  This is one for your list.  Read it for its excellent writing and Tomine’s eloquent plea to strive toward a better future.

 History / Biography

Life Lived WildWinner.  A Life Lived Wild:  Adventures at the Edge of the Map by Rick Ridgeway.  Patagonia Books, Ventura, CA.  ISBN  9781938340994

Rick Ridgeway is one of the great adventurers of the late 20th and early 21st centuries.  He was on the first American ascent of K2 and made the first traverse of Borneo.  He was a key figure in the attempt to climb the seven summits, the highest point on each continent, and was the primary author of the book chronicling the climbs.  His writings span the globe: North America, South America, Asia, Africa and Antarctica.  Joining him are a who’s who of outdoor personalities.  But it’s not solely about adventure.  It’s also about the special times with family and friends.  All in all, Ridgeway’s book is a perfect testament to a life lived wild.

Written in the SnowsWinner. Written in the Snows:  Across Time on Skis in the Pacific Northwest by Lowell Skoog.  The Mountaineers Books, Seattle.  ISBN  9781680512908

Over 20 years in the making comes one outstanding work on ski history.  Lowell Skoog covers the northwest scene like none other: Alpine, Nordic, backcountry and even fastest ascents and descents.  But the book is not just a recounting of history; Skoog immerses himself into that history by organizing long forgotten ski races and retracing historic mountain traverses.  Highly readable and filled with fascinating stories of the past, this is a fine addition to the literature of skiing. 

 Natural History Literature

Thousand Trails HomeWinner.  A Thousand Trails Home: Living with Caribou by Seth Kantner.  The Mountaineers Books, Seattle.  ISBN  9781594859700

If you’ve been following past winners in this category, you will find this a very different kind of book.  It includes some science, of course, but this is natural history from a personal perspective.  Through a series of narratives, author Kantner unveils a life that revolves around the wilds of Northwest Arctic and the twice yearly migration of caribou.  It’s about a life of subsistence – a life that had sustained native Alaskans, the Inupiat, for centuries.  The hunting of caribou was central to their existence, and consequently there are frequent depictions of hunting in this book.  But it is also about changes over the last decades – social, political, technological – which have altered the lifestyles of those who live there.  It’s a book filled with wild passion and love of place that will keep you absorbed well into the night.


TreelineSilver Medalist.  The Treeline:  The Last Forest and the Future of Life on Earth by Ben Rawlence.  St. Martins Press, New York. ISBN 9781250270238

Ben Rawlence is captivated with the taiga, the boreal forest, that band of hardy trees which encircle the globe’s northern regions.  In fact, we all should be thankful for this great forest, the largest of the world’s biomes which breathes oxygen into our atmosphere and stores vast amounts of carbon.  In essence, it’s part of the planet’s respiratory system.  You might say it is a great, green lung.  But that green lung isn’t as healthy as it once was.  The boreal forest is changing due to man’s activities - and that has consequences everywhere.  For an illuminating look at this vital biome, follow along as Rawlence journeys from place to place, conversing with scientists and spending time with the people who live in the boreal forest and experience it firsthand.

 Nature & the Environment

Seeing SilenceWinner. Seeing the Silence: The Beauty of the World’s Most Quiet Places.  Photography and Text by Pete McBride.  Rizzoli, New York.  ISBN  9780847870868

When photographer Pete McBride uses the word “silence,” he means the absence of man-made sounds.  The silence of nature, he writes, can range from “pin drop quiet one second and wonderfully loud the next.”  We learn that there are few places where one can hear only nature’s silence.  Even in wilderness areas, the frequent rumble of jets is heard as they pass over.  McBride has travelled the globe, seeking out those rare hide-aways of nature’s silence, and in this fine work, he shares what he has found through stories and breathtaking photography.


Skies AboveSilver Medalist.  The Skies Above: Storm Clouds, Blood Moons, and Other Everyday Phenomena  by Dennis Mersereau.  Mountaineers Books, Seattle.  ISBN 9781680515558

This is the sort of book that you can page through time and time again and always find something new and fascinating.  The title says it all.  It is about the skies and what you see when you look up.  The author guides you through each of the seasons and the science behind thunderstorms, blizzards, tornadoes, hurricanes, rainbows, and much more.  It’s a first-rate reference book, perfect for any outdoor lover’s library.

 Children's Category

Alaska is for the BirdsWinner.  Alaska is for the Birds!  Fourteen Favorite Feathered Friends.  Poems by Susan Ewing.  Illustrations by Evon Zerbetz.  Alaska Northwest Books, Portland, OR.  ISBN 9781513128665

This is a wonderful surprise for children in the 5 to 8 year old group.  And the best thing?  A child doesn’t have to live in Alaska to enjoy it!  The 14 birds covered within its pages are found nearly everywhere.  What makes this book stand out is a combination of poems and colorful illustrations. The poems are pure fun – and they rhyme in a musical way which makes it a joy to read to children.  The luminous artwork fits perfectly with the poems.  There’s a bonus too. The end of the book has complete descriptions of each of the birds, a helpful reference for moms or dads when an inquiring mind wants to know more.

 Design & Artistic Merit

Our National MonumentsWinner.  Our National Monuments: America’s Hidden Gems.  By QT Luong.  Terra Galleria Press, San Jose, CA.  ISBN 9781733576079

The artistry of renowned photographer QT Luong is on full display in this stunning large format work.  Luong navigates us to 27 national monuments.  Twenty-one are in found in the western states, but there are also marine national monuments in the Pacific, a glimpse of which is provided by photographer Ian Shive.   What a sumptuous treat this book is – but it is also a reminder that these areas need protectors.  To emphasize its conservation message, Luong provides a voice for 27 conservation organizations each associated with one of the monuments covered in the book.


Drawn to BirdsWinner. Drawn to Birds: A Naturalist’s Sketchbook by Jenny deFouw Geuder.  Adventure Publications, Cambridge, MN. 
ISBN 9781647552251

This charming book is a splendid melding of art and text.  Open it and the book immediately radiates appeal, drawing you in with a profusion of colorful watercolors.  The watercolors are supplemented with text etched in delicate calligraphy, easy on the eyes and in perfect harmony with the artwork.  After an introduction on how to identify birds, Jenny deFouw Geuder covers more than 60 bird species found in the backyard or in nearby parks.  She includes ideas on how to create a better habitat in your yard and ties it up with a segment on common wildflowers and insects.


Inside the High SierraSilver Medalist.  Inside the High Sierra by Claude Fiddler.  Claude Fiddler, Crowley Lake, CA.  ISBN 9781938393396

It was the great conservationist, John Muir who gave the Sierra Mountains the name “The Range of Light.”  He was enraptured by the range, by its “glorious floods of light” and “the white beams of the morning streaming through the passes.”  If there is any photographer who has captured Muir’s floods of light in his images, it is Claude Fiddler.  In fact, Fiddler was the photographer of an earlier work, the much lauded The High Sierra: Wilderness of Light.  This new collection of photographs doesn’t disappoint.  It’s full of feeling, demonstrating his keen eye for bringing out the emotional impact of the landscape.  It is, in essence, a visual expression of his long and devoted love affair with the Range of Light.

 Classic Category

Camp 4Winner.  Camp 4: Recollections of a Yosemite Rockclimber by Steve Roper.  The Mountaineers Books, Seattle.  ISBN  9780898865875

First published in 1994 and now in its seventh printing, Camp 4 is clearly a classic work on rock climbing.  It covers the golden age of Yosemite climbing, that quarter century period from 1947 to 1971.  Author Steve Roper was there in the 1960’s, a part of a curious mix of personalities and egos who were associated with the ground breaking climbs that marked the period.  “I strode among giants,” he writes, “though at the time I felt more like a misfit associating with oddballs.”  Much could have been written about Yosemite’s history during this period, yet Roper has wisely compressed it into just the right amount for a fascinating read.


 Nature Guides

Common Bees - Eastern USWinner.  Common Bees of Eastern North America by Olivia Messinger Carril and Joseph S. Wilson.  Princeton University Press, Princeton, NJ.  ISBN9780691175492

Let’s face it.  Identifying bees isn’t the easiest task in the world, but this new, innovative work is here to help.  What sets this guide apart from others is the use of striking, high resolution color photographs which have been overlaid with key identifying marks.  It even includes silhouettes which depict the actual size of the bee.  Covering 125 of the most commonly seen species in the eastern US and Canada, this fine guide raises the standards of insect identification.


Beetles - Western USSilver Medalist.  Beetles of Western North America by Arthur V. Evans.  Princeton University Press, Princeton, NJ. 
ISBN 9780691164281

If any guidebook on insects could be called a scientist’s magnum opus, this is it.  It is the only comprehensive, fully color guide to the beetles of the western US and Canada.  The statistics are almost mind numbing: 640 pages long, filled with more than 1,500 photos and covering 1,428 species.  You can’t go wrong with this guide.  For western beetles, it’s the go-to guide.



 Outdoor Adventure Guides

Rocky Mt. Park GuideWinner (Guidebook).  Rocky Mountain National Park: The Complete Guide.  By James Kaiser.  Destination Press, Kalispell, MT. 
ISBN 9781940754475

If you are planning to visit Rocky Mountain National Park, this is your guide.  With a rugged cover and sized perfectly for carrying in a pack, it is designed to be used and taken wherever you go.  Intelligently designed with color throughout, it has a bit of everything about the park with introductory segments on geology, ecology, wildlife, and history.  That’s followed by places to see and helpful suggestions on camping, hiking and backpacking. 


How to SufferWinner (Instructional). How to Suffer Outside: A Beginner’s Guide to Hiking and Backpacking by Diana Helmuth.  Illustrations by Latasha Dunston. Mountaineers Books, Seattle.  ISBN 9781680513110

The writing style in this how-to book forges a different path from other works on backpacking.  You might say it is cheeky – witty, smart, and often opinionated.  If you’ve been dreaming about giving backpacking a try and need a little nudge, author Diana Helmuth is there to give that nudge.  “Yeah,” she writes, “We’re going to do it.  We’re going to get you out there.”  (One note: some of the language may be objectionable to some readers.)



Note that a Silver Medal is not awarded in every category. It is only awarded when the winner and second place book are very closely scored.

Official NOBA reviews prepared by Ron Watters.  Reviews are based on comments and insights provided by members of the judging panels.  A special thanks to Katherine Daly for her editorial work. 


End of Listing: 2022 National Outdoor Book Awards



Natalie Bartley, Boise, ID
Freelance outdoor writer/photographer/editor and certified Nordic ski instructor. Active member of the Outdoor Writers Association of America and the Northwest Outdoor Writers Association. Doctorate in Recreation and Leisure Services from University of Utah. Author of Best Easy Day Hikes Boise and Best Rail Trails Pacific Northwest: Washington, Oregon, and Idaho. Former river ranger, raft guide, ropes course manager, and university professor. Instructed at Hong Kong and Pacific Crest Outward Bound Schools.

Cort Conley, Boise, ID
Writer, editor, and publisher.  Author of several outdoor titles and an anthology of river poems.  Independent river guide since 1968.  Served as a judge for the Djerassi Resident Artists Program. Former Director of Literary Services for the Idaho Commission on the Arts.

Jeff Cramer, Lincoln, MA
Curator of Collections at the Walden Woods Project's Thoreau Institute Library. Editor of The Portable Thoreau, The Quotable Thoreau, and Walden: A Fully-Annotated Edition.

Louis Dzierzak, Minneapolis, MN
A full-time freelance writer focusing on the business side of outdoor recreation. Member of Outdoor Writers Association of America, Society of Environmental Journalists, and the American Society of Authors and Journalists.  Editor of the two-volume Boundary Waters Canoe Area guidebook. Currently writing a book about invasive carp for the University of Minnesota Press. 

Laura Erickson, Duluth, MN
Ornithologist (2,200 birds on her life list), Contributing editor and columnist for BirdWatching magazine. Author of 12 books. Winner of the 1997 National Outdoor Book Award for her work Sharing the Wonder of Birds with Kids—and Dave Barry's bird and tapeworm advisor.

Jim & Sara Fullerton, St. Petersburg, FL
Past president of the Association of Outdoor Recreation and Education.  Doctorate in Human Sciences from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.   Professor for management and leadership development at the College of Coastal Georgia.  Twenty years experience as an outdoor adventure leader.  His wife Sara who assists with judging the children's category is a former elementary school teacher and has worked in a children's bookstore.

Dale Harrington, Boone, NC
Retired biology instructor at Caldwell Community College.  Naturalist.  Former trip leader for Appalachian State University. Avid mountaineer and hiker.

Julia Hughes, Telluride, CO
Avid skiier, long distance hiker, and outdoor enthusiast. Has completed the Appalachian, Pacific Crest, Colorado, John Muir and Arizona Trails. Certified Wilderness First Responder. Experienced outdoor instructor and guide. Ardent consumer of books on outdoor adventure, survival, and exploration.

Paul Kallmes, Berkeley, CA
Editor of Summit: The Photographs of Vittorio Sella, 1879-1909.  Organized a subsequent photographic exhibition of Sella's mountain photography.  Active climber for over 30 years.  Worked for 10 years at Mountainfilm in Telluride.

Rodney Ley, Fort Collins, CO
Author of Backcountry Skiing Cameron Pass Colorado. Emeritus Director, Outdoor Programs at Colorado State University. Former outdoor columnist for Gannett newspapers. Founder of Never Summer Nordic ski yurt system. Former board member, Association of Outdoor Recreation and Education.

Kate Mapp, Park City, UT
Adult Services Librarian at the Park City Library. Former wilderness ranger and archaeologist for the US Forest Service. Professional ski patroller for 8 years and past president of the Canyons Professional Ski Patrol Association. Served as a judge for the Women Writing the West-Willa Book Awards.

John Miles, El Prado, NM
Former Dean and Professor Emeritus of Environmental Studies, Huxley College, Western Washington University. Author of six books including Wilderness in National Parks: Playground or Preserve. His most recent book, Teaching in the Rain: The Story of North Cascades Institute will soon be published. Currently researching books on national parks and the history of the youth conservation movement.

Jill Morgan, Cynthiana, KY
Publisher of Purple House Press specializing in classic children's books. Jill supervises book selection, layout, design and production. An old dairy farm is home, where she lives with her husband and an assortment of dogs and cats. Chickens roam around in the backyard. Their three children are grown and their eldest daughter is an indispensable part of Purple House Press.

James Moss, JD Littleton, CO
Outdoor industry attorney, risk management consultant and author.  Board of directors of the Galapagos Preservation Society, and Denver Area Council, Boy Scouts of America.  Author of Outdoor Recreation Risk Management, Insurance and Law.

Tom Mullin, Richmond, ME
Fellow of the National Association for Interpretation. Interpretation/Environmental Education & Trails Consultant, Executive Director of the Herring Gut Coastal Science Center in Port Clyde, ME, Former Associate Professor of Parks and Forest Resources at Unity College. Consultant and advisor for a series of twenty Time-Life nature books. 1987 Thru-hiker of the 2,100+ mile Appalachian Trail.

Tammie L. Stenger-Ramsey, Bowling Green, KY
Associate Professor, Recreation Administration and Outdoor Experience Leadership at Western Kentucky University.  Leave No Trace Master Educator.  American Canoe Association Canoe Instructor.  Operations Coordinator WKU Field McChesney Field Campus.

Ron Watters, Pocatello, ID
Chairman, National Outdoor Book Awards.  Author of eight outdoor books (Never Turn Back, Ski Camping, The Whitewater Book, etc.)  Formerly, Director of the Idaho State University Outdoor Program (25 years).

Melanie Wulf, Des Moines, IA
Former director of the Outdoor Program at Texas Tech University in Lubbock.  Masters in Outdoor Education from Northern Illinois University.  Certified Elementary and Middle School Teacher. Has worked 20 years in the outdoor retail industry and currently serves as the Retail Sales Manager for REI in Des Moines, Iowa.

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