Coming Soon! Dead Reckoning: Learning from Accidents in the Outdoors

I’ve been quiet around here for awhile, but I have a good excuse: I’ve been working on a book!

Dead Reckoning: Learning from Accidents in the Outdoors will be out June 1, 2021 with Falcon Guides. If you’ve enjoyed any of my writing here at My Alaskan Odyssey over the last few years, I think you’ll get a kick out of it (and hopefully learn something).

I wrote this book because I wanted everyone—no matter how much experience they have in the backcountry—to have the tools to stay safe and make decisions for themselves. Dead Reckoning is narrative nonfiction that covers a wide range of activities, like backpacking, hiking in bear country, mountaineering, sea kayaking, whitewater sports, and backcountry skiing. Each chapter is a narrative about a personal experience of mine (sometimes a close call, and sometimes one I’m not especially proud of), and it’s peppered with historical accident data and analysis.

Here are some nice things some people have said about Dead Reckoning:

“Hands-down the most entertained and intrigued I’ve been while reading about all the ways I could die doing my favorite things in the outdoors. This book should be required reading for anyone who ties on a pair of hiking boots or passes through the entrance of a national park.”
Brendan Leonard, author of The Art of Getting Lost, founder of Semi-Rad

Dead Reckoning teaches critical lessons about staying safe in the backcountry with empathy and compassion. Reading about accidents is heavy, but there’s so much we can learn from them. This book helps make meaning from tragedy. Whether you’re an experienced adventurer or brand new to the trail, its thoughtful analysis will leave you better prepared to stay safe outside.”
Caroline Gleich, professional athlete, activist, and contributor to Falcon Guides’ Women Who Hike

“In Dead Reckoning, Emma Walker tells self-effacing stories she’s blended with researched vignettes of others’ mishaps, followed-up by crisp de-briefings. It’s a unique, entertaining how-to for avoiding trouble and tragedy in the backcountry, from Hawaiian tropics to Alaskan tundra and everywhere in between on mountains, rivers, and seas.”
Roman Dial, author of The Adventurer’s Son

“It’s not enough for Emma to tell you to ‘Pay Attention!’ She tells you in detail WHEN to pay attention in lots of fascinating circumstances, and then elaborates on WHY and even HOW to listen and watch for the myriad things that could kill you.”
Lynne Wolfe, editor of The Avalanche Review

You can probably see where this is going… Will you pre-order (or order, if you’re coming across this after June 1!) a copy of Dead Reckoning? I appreciate it so much!


My book (!), BEST DOG HIKES COLORADO, out this month!

Bix insisted we do a photoshoot in the backyard. Bodhi was not thrilled.

File this under “Things I always hoped I’d get to say one day”: My first book hits shelves this month!

Best Dog Hikes Colorado, published by Falcon Guides, is now available for purchase. Look at that handsome pooch on the cover––swoon! If you want a copy, I’ve put some links at the end of this post.

Turns out, people have lots of questions about writing a book. (I did, too.) I am answering a few of the most common questions I’ve gotten below.

How did you end up writing this book?
A mutual friend introduced me to an acquiring editor at Falcon. (Thanks, Elizabeth!) They were looking for someone to do a second edition of Best Dog Hikes Colorado. As a lifelong Coloradan and dog-obsessed hiker, I fit the bill, so I signed a contract and got going.

How long did this take?
I worked on the book for about six months. That’s an unusually short timeline for a book, but it helped that I was making changes to the first edition rather than working from scratch.

Are you going to be rich and famous now?
The short answer is definitely not. I got a small advance to cover some of my time while writing the book, and now I will make royalties, i.e. a small percentage of each copy sold. In other words, now that the work is done, I have to hope people will buy it and like it and recommend it to make any money off the project. Good thing I didn’t get into writing to make the big bucks.

Will Bodhi sign my copy?
Of course he will. Come visit us and Bodhi will take you for his favorite Idaho hike and smudge his little pawprint onto your copy.

Will you do another book?
This is kind of like asking someone if they’ll do another marathon. In other words: Probably! Ask me again when I’ve forgotten how much work this was.

Want a copy? You can purchase directly through the publisher or on Amazon. Oh, and if you’re ordering on Amazon, a positive review will go a long way… 🙂 


From the Archives: The Sugarbee Effect

The 2018 Bike MS ride is coming up. It’ll be on June 23 and 24 this year, and my family (along with a few thousand others) will ride 150 miles over the course of two days to raise money for MS. I’m putting this post up again because it’s the best way I know how to explain why I do this ride every year. Also, if you’re feeling generous, there’s a link to donate to the cause at the end of the post. They say a cure for MS could be found within our lifetime! 

I don’t remember the first time someone told me I looked just like my Aunt Kelly. It’s happened often enough that I’ve internalized it. I don’t mind; she is beautiful, and so I consider it a profound compliment.  Continue reading “From the Archives: The Sugarbee Effect”

A weekend in Bears Ears

You’d be hard-pressed to find anybody in the Western US today who hasn’t heard of Bears Ears. It’s become a rallying cry for conservation and recreation and generally not letting public lands disappear. (If you need a refresher on Bears Ears’ contemporary history, here’s a good primer from a Native perspective.)

I’d driven through parts of the Monument, but never spent any significant time there. So when we started making plans to spend a holiday weekend in the desert with friends, I jumped at Bix’s suggestion to make for Cedar Mesa.

Continue reading “A weekend in Bears Ears”

I’m Making This Up as I Go: The Emma Walker Training Method

Since last week’s post, a couple of people have asked me how I went about training for a 50k. Before I go any further, I’d like to make it exceptionally clear that I am by no means an expert, and if you’re wondering how to train for something like this, you should start by asking someone else. If, however, you’re anything like me (i.e., your reaction to most good advice is to stubbornly tell yourself “…yeah, I’m not gonna do that”), here’s what I did to prepare and, as a bonus, my 20/20 hindsight on whether I’d do it again, hypothetically speaking. (No, really. I have no immediate plans to do this again.)  Continue reading “I’m Making This Up as I Go: The Emma Walker Training Method”