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The Flip Side: Volume 17

Stories to Keep You Outdoor-Inspired in Our New Normal 

Our weekly roundup of the best outdoor stories that capture and inspire the spirit of adventure during the days of social distancing. 


Ice and glacier collapses remind us of a changing climate. Three different stories for hiking, biking, and paddling keep us inspired to explore and protect our world.

Last Canadian Ice Shelf Collapses

The Milne Ice Shelf, on the edge of Canada’s Nunavut territory, lost more than 40 percent of its mass in just a few days at the end of July. It was the last fully intact shelf in Canadian territory. Beyond their aesthetic and scientific value, ice shelves such as Milne are pivotal for global temperature regulation. Glaciologists estimate that 80 square kilometers broke from the main ice mass, roughly 20 square kilometers larger than Manhattan Island. Its loss is a reminder of both the impermanence of natural beauty and the danger global warming poses to our ecosystems.  [Reuters]


Mont Blanc Glacier Instability Threatens Italian Community

In addition to the Milne Ice Shelf, the Mont Blanc Glacier in Italy is also threatened by rising temperatures. Roughly 65 people have been evacuated from the Italian town of Courmayeur after experts from the Safe Mountains Foundation warned that 500,000 cubic meters (about 132 million gallons) of ice were in jeopardy of sliding off the mountain. The second highest peak in Europe, Mont Blanc is renowned for its skiing and alpine lines and is considered the birthplace of modern mountaineering. [The Guardian]


Bike Messenger to Ride The Underground Railroad

Cyclist John Shackelford, 25, of New York City, will bike The Underground Railroad with a team of six other black cyclists this September. Starting in Mobile, Alabama, and ending in Washington, D.C., the 1,114-mile trail connects a complex network of paved roads, dirt paths, and cross country trails. Shackleford, who attests that cycling “saved his life” by giving him purpose, work, and responsibility, hopes to inspire underserved and marginalized youth to get active on two wheels. [Outside Online]

Learning to Accept Yourself on the Colorado Trail

We’re more than the sum of our experiences—the challenges we’ve overcome in the past prepare us for greater ones in the future. That’s what Patricia Cameron, currently hiking the Colorado Trail from Denver to Durango, learned when she was caught in a rainstorm. Reminding herself that painful feet and wet clothes pale in comparison to giving birth to her son, Cameron finds the strength to persevere and continue her 485-mile solo trek. [Backpacker Magazine]


Retracing Fur Trader Riverways in Quebec

Quebec’s Eastmain river is inextricably linked to the region’s economic development. Known first to The Cree people as Eeyou Itschee, it linked some of the first indigenous settlements. Thousands of years later, French fur traders would navigate it to bring exotic pelts to export for European markets. Generations after them, Connor Mihel and his wife retraced the route. In his trip report, Mihel reflects on both the natural majesty of the Canadian interior and “dystopian” testaments to our ability to alter our world. [Paddling Magazine]