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What’s Wrong with Millennials?

Everyone knows “what’s wrong with Millennials.” Glenn Beck says we’ve been ruined by “participation trophies.” Simon Sinek says we have low self-esteem. An Australian millionaire says Millennials could all afford homes if we’d just give up avocado toast. Thanks, millionaire.

This Millennial is here to prove them all wrong.

Kids These Days: Introduction

What is a generation? We talk as if they have breaks between them, like graham crackers or Hershey bars. But people don’t couple and have children on a staggered schedule; there’s a constant flow of newborns, with no natural divisions between Generations X, Y, and Z. What is it, then, that distinguishes someone born in one generation from someone born in the next? Is there a last baby on one side and a first on the other? Maybe it’s like the Supreme Court on pornography: We know it when we see it. At its most basic level, a generation is when a quantitative change (birth year) comes to refer to a qualitative change. Over time a society mutates, and at a certain point in that development we draw a hazy line to mark a generation.

Since they aren’t strictly defined, generations are characterized by crises, by breaks of one kind or another. Wars, revolutions, market crashes, shifts in the mode of production, transformations in social relations: These are the things generations are made of, even if we can only see their true shape in the rearview mirror. Every few decades American culture turns over, like a body rejuvenating its cells. But though reproduction is continual, the generations look at each other not over a line, but over a gap. The divisions are very real, even as they’re also imaginary.

Because the way generations are defined is so hazy, it’s easy to get away with less-than-rigorous analysis. If you say “the Selfie Generation,” you’re doing the work of defining and describing: The generation that takes selfies takes selfies. The few book- length considerations of Millennials— for our purposes I will mostly use this term to refer to Americans born between 1980 and 2000 (Reagan up to Bush II)—that exist are generally concerned with two things: young people’s intellectual degradation, and how to manage them in the workplace. Shorter- form articles hem and haw about young Americans’ romantic and sexual lives, our work ethic (or lack thereof), and especially our use of technology and the culture that has developed around it. Millennial stereotypes are just that, however, and stereotypes aren’t a good place to start.

What these media accounts fail to present, even when their conclusions don’t totally miss the mark, is a historical reason for what they’re describing. To understand the consequences of a generational shift, we need more than just the proximate causes of new culture and behavior; we have to pull apart the tangled nest of historical trends where they hatched.

No one chooses the historical circumstances of their birth. If Millennials are different in one way or another, it’s not because we’re more (or less) evolved than our parents or grandparents; it’s because they’ve changed the world in ways that have produced people like us. And we didn’t happen by accident: Over the past forty years we have witnessed an accelerated and historically unprecedented pace of change as capitalism emerged as the single dominant mode of organizing society. It’s a system based on speed, and the speed is always increasing. Capitalism changes lives for the same reason people breathe: It has to in order to survive. Lately, this system has started to hyperventilate: It’s desperate to find anything that hasn’t yet been reengineered to maximize profit, and then it makes those changes as quickly as possible. The rate of change is visibly unsustainable. The profiteers call this process “disruption,” while commentators on the left generally call it “neoliberalism” or “late capitalism.” Millennials know it better as “the world,” or “America,” or “Everything.” And Everything sucks.

The growth of growth requires a different kind of person, one whose abilities, skills, emotions, and even sleep schedule are in sync with their role in the economy. We hear a sweetened version of this fact whenever politicians talk about preparing young people for the twenty-first-century labor market, and a slightly more sinister version from police officers and guidance counselors when they talk about working hard, flying right, and not making mistakes. It’s tough love, and young Americans are getting it from all sides. This advice is uncontroversial on its face, but its implications are profound. In order to fully recognize the scope of these changes, we need to think about young people the way industry and the government already do: as investments, productive machinery, “human capital.” If people have changed as much as other engines of productivity have over the past three or four decades, it’s no wonder the generation gap is so significant.

By investigating the historical circumstances out of which Millennials have emerged, we can start to understand not only why we are the way we are, but in whose interests it is that we exist this way. In the wake of Occupy Wall Street, the mainstream media seems to have discovered increasing economic inequality, dramatized in the vastly unequal division of postcrisis “recovery” income. When it comes to age, this inequality manifests both between and within generations. Young households trail further behind in wealth than ever before, and while a small number of hotshot finance pros and app developers rake in big bucks (and big resentment), wages have stagnated and unemployment increased for the rest.

In the shadow of this high-stakes rat race, child- rearing has gone from harm prevention to risk elimination. It’s no longer enough to graduate a kid from high school in one piece; if an American parent wants to give their child a chance at success, they can’t take any chances. Entire industries have sprung up to prey on this anxiety, from Baby Einstein to test prep academies. For children born on the wrong side of the inequality gap, an increasingly integrated youth control complex puts them at constant risk of criminalization, from the classroom to the street to their bedrooms. The result is a generation of children with an unprecedented lack of unsupervised time who have been systematically denied the chance to build selves without adult oversight.

If this sounds like it might be anxiety- inducing, it should. Longitudinal studies on young Americans’ psychological health reveal unprecedented changes. Young people feel—reasonably, accurately—less in control of their lives than ever before. Luckily, the silver lining of every twenty-first-century problem is a market niche, and youth psychosis is no exception. Long considered too indelicate a tool for developing minds, psychiatric medication has become part of a normal American childhood. Powerful pills can keep children who are at risk of malfunctioning under pressure operating on an ostensibly even keel. Depression and anxiety aren’t just threats to our psychic and emotional wellbeing; when people’s work depends on their communication skills and likability, mental illness is an error that must be corrected.

American kids spend more time on schoolwork than ever before, even though their skills with new technology make the performance of academic tasks like research and word processing much more efficient. A scholastic arms race has pitted adolescents against each other from a young age. For kids who have trouble competing—or ones whose fidgeting threatens the classroom discipline necessary for those who are—there are Adderall, Concerta, and other prescription uppers to keep them focused and productive. Of course, once the pills are on the playground, there’s no keeping track of them, and the market sets prices for these study aids just like anything else. In a reversal of the traditional ideas about childhood, it’s no longer a time to make mistakes; now it’s when bad choices have the biggest impact.

If a Millennial does make it out of childhood on the “right track” — avoiding both the school‑to‑prison pipeline and debilitating psychosis (or even suicide) — and into higher education, there’s no finish line. It’s more like “Pass Go, Pay $30,000.” The average college student takes out tens of thousands of dollars in loans from the government to go to school—tenacious debt it will likely take a decade or more to pay off, and on which default isn’t a practical option. But with higher rates of enrollment, it’s not enough just to attend college, especially given the costs; a degree has become a prerequisite, not a golden ticket. Meanwhile, the university has turned into a veritable industrial complex, complete with ever-expanding real estate holdings, hospitals, corporate partnerships, and sports teams that are professional in every sense of the word—except that the players work for free. And amateur athletes on whose talents a multibillion-dollar industry is built aren’t the only ones asked to give their labor away: Unpaid internships have become the norm. Students are investing more time, energy, and money in their employability, and most of them have less to show for it. All of this raises the stakes for individuals; the worst off might very well be those in the category “some college,” which means debt without the degree.

The whole school culture is built around hypercompetition, from first period, to extracurricular activities, to homework, to the video games kids play when they have a minute of downtime. It’s not a coincidence—none of it. The growth of growth requires lots of different kinds of hard work, and Millennials are built for it. While cell phones and PDAs (remember when Personal Digital Assistants existed as a separate device?) used to be for businesspeople who billed for their time in minutes, now the average teenager has the tools to stay plugged in 24/7, and the training to use their gadgets better than those businesspeople can. Social media schools young people in communication and the emotional skills—as well as quick thinking and constant availability—that make them exceptionally productive. That also means they’re populating these valuable new platforms with free content. When everyone is searchable and no privacy filter is reliable, kids learn quickly that everything they do goes on their permanent record—résumé and rap sheet alike. No one puts their whole self into their job like a Millennial who never learned to separate work and life enough to balance them, especially if they’re wired on uppers and get anxious when they’re too far away from their phone.

In the world of entertainment, media industries rely on the young artists whose cohort sets much of the country’s cultural agenda. Near the close of the twentieth century, these media companies got extremely proficient at finding, identifying, and repackaging youth culture’s rebellious side. “Selling out” was the scourge of Generation X, but a couple of decades later, the question is all but moot for young artists. The Faustian bargain with success is no longer about giving up your originality to be branded; now it’s the artist’s original brand the Man wants to buy. Whether trying to sell a rap album or a comedy series, young successes are expected to be successes already, with their own built‑in fan bases, public brands, and professional-caliber media.

With the spread of cheap recording, producing, and distribution tools, you no longer need to go to a label or a studio to make a market-ready album, music video, movie, or television show; you just need some friends who are practiced and willing to donate their skilled time. But to reap the rewards, you’re going to need to beat almost everyone else just like you.

The business of sports has always fetishized young workers and is shifting with these advances as well. So‑called amateur sports have grown (as an important part of the higher education industrial complex) and now constitute a multibillion- dollar market. Meanwhile, competition for the few scholarship slots and professional jobs for athletes has increased as teams look overseas to previously unexplored talent pools. Hyperrationalized training techniques and evaluation tools mean that promising child athletes are tracked and engineered from elementary school, which is also when they start learning about college scholarships. “Don’t blow your ride!” is at least as old as The Breakfast Club, but with the price of higher education skyrocketing, the stakes are higher and the work is harder. For parents doing the tough math, turning an athletically or a musically gifted toddler into a prodigy might be cheaper than four years at a competitive private school. As long as the kid doesn’t fuck it up.

Something is happening, whether we like it or not, whether we have a solution or not. A look at the evidence shows that the curve we’re on is not the one we’ve been told about, the one that bends toward justice. We’d be foolish and naive to expect America’s “moral universe” to progress independent of the other trends in our lives; it’s nearly circular to say we are the people we become every day, but the progressive narrative doesn’t allow for the flips and crises, the victories and defeats that make history such an eventful story. People match their circumstance, and vice versa; we’re no exception. Without a recent historical accounting, we’re stuck trying to understand young people based on a constellation of confusing behavioral data points. How are the same young people who were exposed to porn in childhood and are sending each other nude pictures by middle school also having less sex than their parents did? Why are we obsessed with the laziness and incompetence of the most productive workers of all time? And if college means better jobs, and more kids are going to college, why are wages down? Out of these contradictions the media has spun the story of the Millennial—a portrait that’s right on some of the details, misguided on the rest, and totally wrong on why.

The moderate consensus view on American Millennials is that we don’t represent anything new. Boomers and Gen Xers whining about us are creating moral panics out of the standard evolution of social and cultural habits, just like their parents did. It’s true that the reaction to every successive set of tools and toys and their effects on our lives—especially the lives of children—sounds a lot like last year’s and the year before’s. Commentators worry about what cell phones do to our sociality, but before that it was Walkmen and long before that it was newspapers. And though it’s fun juxtaposing covers of newsweeklies from different decades, all of them fretting about how this or that generation will be the end of us all, it also turns us into the boy who gets tired of crying wolf. But sometimes there is a wolf. It’s worth an occasional check.

One of the consequences of “how we live now” is that we have more access to way more information about ourselves than ever before. This data is used to manage and control us in all sorts of ways—not the least of which is encouraging us to better self- manage and self-control—but it’s also a tool in our critical hands if we choose to wield it so. A long hard look at the historical circumstances that have birthed Millennials can tell us more about our nature than any number of snapshot trend pieces or shallow surveys. The only way to understand who we are as a generation is to look at where we come from, and the social and economic conditions under which we’ve become ourselves. What I’m attempting in this book is an analysis of the major structures and institutions that have influenced the development of young Americans over the past thirty to forty years. That means parenting, schools, the criminal justice system, higher education, and the job market; it means looking at the changes in technology, psychology, sexuality, and other elements of social life that have shaped the adults Millennials are becoming. Without the full constellation, all we have is blinking epiphenomena: entertaining at a glance, but not enough context to guide a ship.

When politicians want to appeal to the public’s better angels, they ask us to “Think of the children.” Advertisers, civic agencies, parenting experts, psychiatrists, teachers, police: All of them tell us to ponder the effects our collective choices are having on the next generation. It’s not a bad heuristic if you care about what’s going to happen to your society, but the rhetoric is usually just used to sell one thing or another. Parents are treated like consumers, and “Think of the children” usually means “Think of your kid” and “Be afraid” and “Buy this or else.” Maybe that’s good advice for maximizing an individual kid’s chance at success in a winner-take-all market, but we can see what kind of society—and person—results.When you look at some major trends in the lives of American young people, there’s good evidence that the quantitative changes over the past three or four decades now constitute a meaningful qualitative rupture, one with repercussions we’ve yet to fully appreciate.

A hard look at these trends suggests that Millennials represent the demographic territory where a serious confrontation has already begun: a battle to see if America’s tiny elite will maintain the social control they require to balance on their perch. It’s not an arrangement they’ll let go of without a fight, and they have a lot of guns—figurative and literal. Political reforms seem beside the point if the next generation’s hearts and minds are already bought and sold. Millennials have been trained to hold sacred our individual right to compete, and any collective resilience strategy that doesn’t take that into account is ill- conceived, no matter how long and glorious its history. A regular old political party with a social media presence is insufficient on its face. No one seems to know what we—with all our historical baggage—can do to change our future.

If, as blockbuster audiences seem to both fear and relish, America is quickly headed for full- fledged dystopia, it will have gone through us Millennials first, and we will have become the first generation of true American fascists. On the other hand, were someone to push the American oligarchy off its ledge, the shove seems likely to come from this side of the generation gap, and we will have become the first generation of successful American revolutionaries. The stakes really are that high: In the coming decades, more Americans will be forced to adapt in larger, stranger ways to an increasingly hostile environment. History asks different things of different generations; no child is born asking to go to war, and no number of shiny market-based distractions will make the next twenty years an enviable time to inherit America. But Millennials are going to be here regardless, and we have a lot of responsibility for whatever comes next.

Kids These Days by Malcolm Harris

Visiting the Glaciers of Parque Nacional Los Glaciares

On the eastern Andean slopes, Parque Nacional Los Glaciares comprises over 750,000 hectares, where slowly flowing ice gives birth to clear frigid rivers and vast lakes, interspersed with Magellanic forests, along the Chilean border west and north of El Calafate. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, it’s famous for the Glaciar Perito Moreno, which draws thousands of visitors as well as scientists absorbed in glaciology and climate studies. The northern sector draws those seeking to spend several days in vigorous exercise, for either trekking or the riskier technical climbing.

Hugging the Chilean border, the elongated park stretches well over 100 kilometers from north to south. There are four significant access points, but just two of those get the great majority of visitors.

Since nearly all visitors come to see Glaciar Perito Moreno, most stay at El Calafate, 80 kilometers east by paved highway; the only accommodations closer to the glacier are expensive ranches and lodges just outside park boundaries with small capacities. At the Río Mitre entrance, this main Glaciar Perito Moreno approach, the Administración de Parques Nacionales (APN) collects a US$22 admission fee (payable in pesos only) from nonresidents of Argentina. Lake excursions into the park leave from Punta Bandera, a short detour north from the Moreno Glacier road. Passengers on lake excursions from Punta Bandera must also pay the fee.

The other main access point is the village El Chaltén, 220 kilometers to the northwest by a paved but roundabout route, with abundant accommodations in all categories and easy trail access even for those without their own vehicles. This northernmost sector—a three-hour bus trip from El Calafate by paved highway—attracts hikers and serious mountaineers. Backpackers should note that no campfires are permitted within the park. Carrying a camp stove is obligatory for cooking. This southern approach includes the APN visitors center (tel. 02962/49-3004, 9am-5pm daily, occasionally until 8pm), which has natural history exhibits, provides a decent trail map (scale 1:75,000), and also issues climbing permits (free).

There is additional access to Parque Nacional Los Glaciares at Lago Roca, southwest of El Calafate, and at little-visited Helsingfors, to the northwest. Accessible by gravel road, the Lago Roca sector has campgrounds and some ranch accommodations, but few trails. To the northwest, on the south shore of Lago Viedma, reached from El Calafate by a roundabout combination of paved and gravel routes, the park’s Helsingfors sector has limited but scenic hiking and private accommodations at its namesake lodge. There is no public transportation.

At present, the Lago Roca, Helsingfors, and El Chaltén sectors remain fee-free.

the icy glacier of Perito Moreno in Patagonia's Parque Nactional Los Glaciares
Glaciar Perito Moreno is one of South America’s greatest sights and sounds. Photo © Renan Greinert/Dreamstime.

Glaciar Perito Moreno

Where a low Andean pass lets Pacific weather systems cross the cordillera, countless storms have deposited immeasurable meters of snow that, over millennia, have compressed into Glaciar Perito Moreno, a rasping river of ice that’s one of the continent’s greatest sights and sounds. Fifteen times during the 20th century, the advancing glacier blocked Lago Argentino’s Brazo Rico (Rico Arm) to form a rising body of water that eventually, when the weight became too great for the natural dam, triggered an eruption of ice and water toward the lake’s main glacial trough.

The last event took place on March 10, 2016, but the avalanche of ice and water could easily have been a metaphor for the flood of tourists that invaded El Calafate in anticipation. On any given day, massive icebergs still calve off the glacier’s 60-meter face and crash into the Canal de los Témpanos (Iceberg Channel) with astonishing frequency.

Perched on newly modernized catwalks and overlooks, many visitors spend entire days either gazing at or simply listening to this rumbling river of ice. Descending to lake level is prohibited because of the danger of backwash and flying ice chunks.

Sights and Tours

Hielo y Aventura (Av. Libertador 935, El Calafate, tel. 02902/49-2205) offers full-day “mini trekking” excursions onto the ice (US$140 pp includes transportation from El Calafate). Other options include the more strenuous Big Ice trip (US$152 pp with transporation) and a passive Safari Náutico navigation (1 hour, US$23 pp, transportation not included) that approaches the glacier’s face.

Organized tours to the glacier, 80 kilometers southwest of El Calafate via RP 11, leave every day, as does scheduled transport. Transportation is usually extra for everything except bus tours.

In addition to regularly scheduled transportation, guided bus tours are frequent, but both are less frequent in winter. Competent operators include Aventura Andina (Av. del Libertador 761, Local 4, tel. 02902/49-1726), Cal Tur (Av. Libertador 1080, tel. 02902/49-1368), Cordillera del Sol (25 de Mayo 43, tel. 02902/49-2822), Eurotur (Av. del Libertador 1025, tel. 02902/49-2190), Mundo Austral (Av. Libertador 1114, tel. 02902/49-2365), and Rumbo Sur (9 de Julio 81, Local 2, tel. 02902/49-2155).

El Calafate’s Hostel del Glaciar runs its own guided minivan excursions (US$40 pp), leaving about 8am daily and returning around 5pm. These include more hiking and a navigation for a waterside view of the lake.

tourist on a boat gazing at Upsala glacier in Los Glaciares national park
Take a boat tour to Glaciar Upsala. Photo © Melissa Schalke/Dreamstime.

Glaciar Upsala

Even larger than the Glaciar Perito Moreno, 50 kilometers long and 10 kilometers wide at its foot, Glaciar Upsala is impressive for its sheer extent, the sizable bergs that have calved off it, and their shapes and colors. It’s accessible only by crowded catamaran trips from Punta Bandera via Lago Argentino’s Brazo Norte (North Arm).


At midday the boat anchors at Bahía Onelli. Bring a bag lunch (skipping the restaurant) to hike to ice-clogged Lago Onelli. The land portion of this excursion is regimented, and the guide-suggested pace—30 minutes from dock to lakeshore—is appropriate for those on crutches. Smoking is prohibited on the forest trail.

Visitors should realize that this is a mass-tourism excursion that may frustrate hikers accustomed to freedom of the hills. If you take it, choose the biggest available ship, which offers the most deck space to see the Spegazzini and Upsala Glaciers. On board, the freshest air is within the cabin of the ALM, whose seats are cramped but where smoking is prohibited; on deck, desperate smokers congregate even in freezing rain. Reasonably priced cakes, sandwiches, coffee, tea, and hot chocolate are available on board.

Puerto Bandera is 45 kilometers west of Calafate via RP 11 and RP 8. For information and reservations, contact concessionaire Solo Patagonia (Av. Libertador 867, El Calafate, tel. 02902/49-1155 or 02902/491428). The full-day trip costs about US$110 per person, US$65 ages 8-16, with a four-course lunch and open bar; it does not include transfer to Puerto Bandera or the US$22 park fee.

On its small cruiser Leal, Cruceros Marpatag (9 de Julio 57, Local 10, El Calafate, tel. 02902/49-2118) offers a full-day excursion, with a six-course gourmet lunch (wine included), to the Spegazzini and Upsala glacier fields (US$270-340 pp, including transfers and park admission). The triple-deck 22-cabin catamaran Santa Cruz now offers three-day, two-night cruises to Upsala and Spegazzini (US$1,785-3,900 s, US$3,360-5,680 d), with a final day’s lunch facing the Perito Moreno Glacier.

Lago Roca

Also known as La Jerónima, the park’s little-visited southwesterly sector along Lago Roca’s Brazo Sur (South Arm) offers camping and cross-country hiking. There are no formal trails, only routes such as the one from the campground to the summit of Cerro Cristal, 55 kilometers from El Calafate. The most striking feature is the high shoreline, dry from the days when the lake backs up behind the advancing Glaciar Perito Moreno. Unlike other sectors, Lago Roca charges no admission fee.

clear green glacial water at the foot of Cerro Fitz Roy in Parque Nacional Los Glaciares
The spires of the Fitz Roy range match those of Torres del Paine. Photo © Michal Jastrzebski/Dreamstime.

Sector Fitz Roy

In the park’s most northerly sector, the Fitz Roy range has sheer spires to match Torres del Paine. Even if you’re not a top technical climber, trails from the village of El Chaltén to the base of summits such as Cerro Fitz Roy and Cerro Torre make for exhilarating hikes. It’s even possible to traverse the southern Patagonian ice fields. Visitors seeking a sedate outdoor experience will find a handful of former sheep ranches, onetime Patagonian wool producers that have reinvented themselves as tourist accommodations.

Hiking and Trekking

From a signposted trailhead at El Chaltén’s north end, the Sendero Laguna Torre is an 11-kilometer track gaining about 200 meters in elevation as it winds through southern beech forests to the climbers’ base camp for Cerro Torre; figure 3 to 3.5 hours. At the lake, in clear weather, there are extraordinary views of Cerro Torre’s 3,102-meter summit, crowned by the so-called ice-and-snow “mushroom” that technical climbers must surmount. While Italian Cesare Maestri claimed that he and Austrian Toni Egger reached the summit in 1959 (Egger died in an avalanche, taking the camera with him), Italian Casimiro Ferrari made the first undisputed ascent in 1974.

From the Madsen pack station, the more demanding Sendero Río Blanco trail rises steeply at the outset before leveling out through boggy beech forest and continuing to the Fitz Roy base camp, climbing about 350 meters in 10 kilometers. About midway to Río Blanco, a signed lateral trail leads south to Laguna Capri, which has backcountry campsites.

From Río Blanco, a vertiginous zigzag trail ascends 400 meters in just 2.5 kilometers to Laguna de los Tres, a glacial tarn whose name commemorates three members of the French expedition—René Ferlet, Lionel Terray, and Guido Magnone—who summited Fitz Roy in 1952. Truly a top-of-the-world experience, Laguna de los Tres offers some of Patagonia’s finest Andean panoramas.

From the Río Blanco campground (reserved for climbers), a northbound trail follows the river’s west bank north to Laguna Piedras Blancas, whose namesake glacier continually calves small icebergs. The trail continues north to the Río Eléctrico, beyond the park boundaries, where a westbound trail climbs the river to Piedra del Fraile and a possible circuit of the Campo de Hielo Sur. This is only for experienced snow-and-ice trekkers. At the Río Eléctrico, it’s also possible to rejoin the road from El Chaltén to Lago del Desierto.

From the park visitors center, a short ascent (about 45 minutes) leads to the Mirador de los Cóndores, for good views of El Chaltén and the confluence of the Río de las Vueltas and the Río Fitz Roy.

From the same trailhead, the hike to Loma del Pliegue Tumbado is a 500-meter elevation gain that yields some of the area’s best views. Weather permitting, the panorama takes in Fitz Roy, Cerro Torre, Cerro Solo, Glaciar Torre, and Lago Torre, but the wind at the overlook can be overpowering. Four hours is about right for an average hiker, but the truly fit can do it in three. The descent takes about 2.5 hours.

Glaciar Viedma

From Lago Viedma’s north shore, south of El Chaltén, the park’s best lake excursion is the Viedma Discovery’s full-day catamaran to Glaciar Viedma, which can include an ice-climbing component. The less ambitious can settle for just a boat trip.

Sailing from Bahía Túnel, the vessel rounds the ironically named Cabo de Hornos (Cape Horn) to enter an iceberg-cluttered area before anchoring in a rocky cove. After disembarking, visitors hike to an overlook (the glacier is Argentina’s largest, though its lakeside face is small) with additional views of 2,677-meter Cerro Huemul. Those who want to can strap on crampons and continue onto the glacier for about 2.5 hours (even some sedentary city-dwellers do so).

The bilingual guides know glaciology. While the price here does not include lunch, they do provide an aperitif on the glacial rocks.

Departure time from El Chaltén is 8:30am, while the boat sails from Bahía Túnel at 8:15am; the cost is US$160 pp, including transportation from El Chaltén. The more demanding “Viedma Pro” version, which involves ice climbing, costs US$200. The twice-daily “Viedma Light” boat trip alone is US$55 pp. For details, contact Patagonia Aventura (Av. San Martín 56-B, tel. 02962/49-3110, El Chaltén).

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Los Glaciares National Park Pinterest graphic

Best Haleakala Hikes

Thanks to the colorful cinder cones and trails that crunch underfoot, anyone who hikes across Haleakala Crater will swear they could be on the moon. Covering a total of 19 square miles, the crater basin is a vast wilderness with 30 miles of trails. It’s a place of adventure, mythology, and silence—and home to Maui’s best hiking. If you love the outdoors, no trip to Maui is complete without a spending a day on the crater floor.

Hikers need to be prepared, however, as temperatures can range from 30°F to 80°F over the course of a single day. The hiking is at high elevation, 7,000 to 10,000 feet, and hiking back up generally takes twice as long as the hike down. Hike Maui (808/879-5270, $179) is the only company that offers commercially guided hiking tours. Should you go on your own, here’s a rundown of the most popular hikes, listed from shortest to longest. All mileage is round-trip.

landscape view of Haleakala National Park, home of the best hiking in Maui
No Maui trip is complete within a visit to Haleakala National Park. Photo © mdlart/iStock.

Pa Ka‘oao

0.4 mile
If you don’t feel like watching the sunrise with 200 other people, huff your way up the five-minute Pa Ka‘oao Trail that leaves from the Visitors Center parking lot. The view from the top looks down toward the crater, and it’s better than from the parking lot. Bring a flashlight for the walking the trail before sunrise.

Leleiwi Overlook

0.5 mile
Running late for sunrise? Consider hiking to Leleiwi Overlook (8,840 feet). Located by mile marker 17.5, Leleiwi has smaller crowds and is usually warmer. The view looks down on the crater floor and the sheer multihued cliffs, although since the lookout faces east, it isn’t as good for sunset.

Hosmer’s Grove Nature Trail

0.5 mile
Unlike other trails in the park, the Hosmer’s Grove Nature Trail is at the park’s lower boundary just after you enter the park. The short trail loops through a dense grove of trees, planted in 1910 as part of an unsuccessful experiment to test the viability of the lumber industry. Surrounded by sweet-smelling pine and fir, grab a fleece and go for a stroll through the 20-plus species of trees, listening for forest birds that flit around in the treetops. To reach the trailhead, make a left on the road pointing toward the campground immediately after entering the park. The walk, over mostly level ground, should take 30 minutes. To extend the trip, hike the Supply Trail for 2.3 miles to where it meets with the crater rim.

Halemau‘u Trail (Switchback Trail)

7.5 miles
Beginning from an altitude of only 7,990 feet, the first 1.1 miles of the Halemau‘u Trail meander through scrub brush before bringing you to the edge of a 1,000-foot cliff. The view down into the Ko‘olau Gap is better here than from the summit, and although the trail is well-defined, the drop-offs can be a bit disconcerting. After 3.7 miles—and a 1,000 foot drop—the trail passes Holua Cabin, where you can turn around. Tack on another mile by continuing to Silversword Loop, a section of the crater known for its numerous ‘ahinahina, or endangered silversword plants.

the barren landscape of the Sliding Sands hiking Trail in Haleakala National Park
The 8-mile Keonehe‘ehe‘e (Sliding Sands) Trail is barren and windswept, but offers sweeping views of cinder cones. Photo © photo75/iStock.

Keinehe‘ehe‘e Trail (Sliding Sands Trail)

8 miles
Starting at the summit visitor center at 9,800 feet, Keonehe‘ehe‘e descends 2,500 vertical feet to the crater floor below. This trail is barren, windswept, without shade, and a stunning conduit to the cinder cones. You can turn around anytime you want to hike out. Continuing to Kapalaoa Cabin adds 3.5 miles round-trip.

Sliding Sands-Switchback Loop

12.2 miles
If you’re in good shape and have a full day to devote to exploring the crater, this is hands-down the best day hike in the summit area. Park at the Halemau‘u trailhead, then hitch a ride to the top, where you’ll hike down to the crater floor on the Sliding Sands Trail. Follow the signs toward Holua Cabin and the Halemau‘u Trail, where a leg-burning, switchbacking, 1,000-foot climb leads back to the car.

If you really want an island adventure that you’ll never forget, consider hiking the trail at night in the light of a full moon. For this night hike, bring a backpack of extra clothing, carry extra water and a flashlight, and dress for windchill that can drop below freezing any time of year.

Kaupo Gap

Of all the hikes in Haleakala Crater, none are more legendary, or more extreme, than “shooting” the Kaupo Gap, a two-day trip, with a stay at Paliku campground, that drops 9,500 vertical feet over 17.5 miles. Permits are required for camping at Paliku, in the crater’s remotest corner, 9.2 miles from the Sliding Sands trailhead.

On the second day of the hike, you’ll descend from Paliku outside the national park boundary, and legally continue across private land until you reach Kaupo Store. Along the trail, keep an eye out for goats and deer that roam the windswept grasslands. When you finally finish the hike in Kaupo, it’s best if you’ve prearranged a ride. If not, you may have to convince the rare passerby to shuttle your sweaty body all the way to the other side of the island. Despite the logistical challenges and the grueling backcountry terrain, this is a unique and memorable hike.

Map of Haleakala National Park, Hawaii
Haleakala National Park

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Author Q&A with Gay Gaddis

Advertising CEO Gay Gaddis is the author of the upcoming book, COWGIRL POWER (releasing 1/23/18). Here she shares insights into the process of writing your own book, what it’s like to own your own company, and why, more than ever, women need to develop personal power on all fronts.

Question: Your company, T3, is a top ranked innovation firm and one of the largest advertising agencies owned by a woman in the U.S. How did you find time to write a book?
Answer: I am CEO of T3 today and I have three primary responsibilities: staying in sync with our clients, building our management team and developing relationships with new clients. I spend about a third of my time traveling for the business, about a third in the office and a third on our ranch in the Texas Hill Country. I’m always connected, wicked fast on my iPad and always networking and multi-tasking. But, my time at the ranch is for chilling out and pursuing creative projects like writing and painting. We don’t allow many distractions. It’s heads-down hard work.

Question: Why did you decide to write COWGIRL POWER now?
Answer: I have been an advocate for women who want to pursue business careers for the past 20 years. Frankly, we haven’t seen all that much progress. I decided I did not have another second to wait, so I wrote the book to encourage women to find their own inner power, like the historic cowgirls I introduce in the book. They were tough characters and a few of them, like Annie Oakley, became the first international female superstars. The book explains the highs and lows that I experienced in building my business from the ground up and how I found my personal power one step at a time. I share tons of good advice I learned along the way. I believe we all have personal power inside each of us; we just need to discover and wield it. I finished the book about six months ago and recently, we have seen the issue of women’s power, or lack of it, take center stage in our national dialogue.

Question: Are you referring to all the sexual harassment of women in the news?
Answer: I am. Harassment has been the ignored elephant in the room for years. Too many leaders have swept it under the rug and now it has come back to bite them. Corporate boards are no longer going to tolerate these bad boys. We have to continue to teach our young women to build and use their personal power to push back against all that bullshit, and to support them when they do.

Question: Can you give us a few examples of personal power? How can writers find it and use it?
Answer: Sure. It can take many forms. For me, my secret weapon is humor. I can wield it like a sword and get away with saying all kinds of outrageous things. On the opposite end of the spectrum is the power that comes from empathy and intuition. I know very senior women who are quiet, awesome leaders because they have the gift of being the glue that binds diverse people together into high performing teams. I have a very senior woman who leads a big team at T3. When I asked her where she finds her motivation, she told me “I wake up every morning with curiosity.” I think that is the best advice I can give to writers.

Question: Any advice for aspiring writers looking to make New Year’s resolutions in 2018?
Answer: I write about things I’m passionate about. And, things I’m mad about. I’d encourage aspiring writers to pull either one of those two threads.

Question: If there was one author you could have coffee with, who would it be and why?
Answer: Mark Twain. One of my personal goals is to become a better storyteller. I’m pretty good today, but I want to be much better. I’d love to just listen to his stories and see the twinkle in his eye.

Cowgirl Power by Gay Gaddis
Cowgirl Power by Gay Gaddis


Posted in Q&A

An Editor’s Past and Present

The first book I picked up when I started working at Hachette was Murder at the House of Rooster Happiness. It wasn’t my normal genre but I expected to enjoy it. It had all the hallmarks of a fun mystery: an exotic locale, an interesting murder, and a charming amateur detective. However, what surprised me was the strange affinity I felt with Ladaret Patalung, the very practical nurse ethicist who let her curiosity lead her down a very different path.

I didn’t expect to become an editor, mostly because I didn’t initially plan to and it seemed like an impossible dream. You know those dreams you set when you’re a kid? Firefighter! Doctor! Pilot! None of them are truly impossible, but you get a bit older and reality crowds in. It didn’t matter that I hid behind mountains of books in the quietest part of the library or that I would actively ignore someone next to me to meet the people in a book… Editing was for someone else. Until it wasn’t.

I spent three years teaching kids how to enjoy books, while nurturing a growing desire to work on them. I read every book I could find on the editing process then scoured the Internet for more and landed in the world of unpaid internships. There’s always a moment when you have to ask yourself if you truly want something and that tends to happen when you have to do it for free. However, my first internship was a revelation. No, not the filing, mailing, and errand running, but the conversations about the proposals and manuscripts. Is the voice compelling? Are the plot points logical? Do we care? Why? This wasn’t how I discussed books, but how I wanted to.

It’s probably why I look forward to editorial meetings every week. There’s nothing like sitting in a room full of your colleagues, watching their eyes light up and see them shift forward in their seats as you pitch a good submission. There’s so much fun in those moments. Moments when you simply have to know: Is it more Rothfuss or Jemisin? What’s the scale of the story? Which myth is it based on? Moments when you see an amazing novel start the next leg of its journey.

I think a lot about how my career has progressed, especially when workdays are long and you don’t get to spend nearly as much time reading as you imagined. But nothing really beats the pride you feel when you can send an author an amazing review or when you spot someone reading a book you’ve edited on the train.


A Big Ship at the Edge of the Universe by Alex White
A Big Ship at the Edge of the Universe by Alex White

6 November Reads You May Have Missed

6 November Reads You May Have Missed




6 November Reads You May Have Missed


Happy November, parents! Can you believe the holiday season is upon us? If buying presents for the children in your life seems like a daunting task, we’re here to help. No matter how voracious a reader, they probably won’t have devoured these books quite yet, since all six excellent reads came out this past month. From brightly colored picture books to inspiring nonfiction, you’re sure to find something for everyone.



Read the Book, Lemmings!

by Ame Dyckman, Illustrated by Zachariah OHora

From the New York Times-bestselling team behind Wolfie the Bunny and Horrible Bear comes a hilarious picture book about the importance of actually reading the facts. Take young readers on an adventure to the Arctic where they’ll discover their new favorite animal—the adorable, wayward lemming!




Hey, Black Child

by Useni Eugene Perkins, Illustrated by Bryan Collier

A classic, inspirational work by acclaimed poet Useni Eugene Perkins is brought to life in this colorful picture book—ideal for reading aloud in a classroom or shouting from the rooftops. Hey, Black Child is illustrated by six-time Coretta Scott King Award winner and four-time Caldecott Honor recipient Bryan Collier.




Hortense and the Shadow

by Natalia & Lauren O’Hara

Perfect for the snowy winter months, this is a dreamy picture book debut about a girl haunted by her shadow. Written and illustrated by sisters living in London, it subtly explores self-esteem, self-identity, and finding inner strength.





Dream Big Dreams: Photographs from Barak Obama’s Inspiring and Historic Presidency (Young Readers Edition)

by Pete Souza

Former Official White House photographer Pete Souza’s gorgeous art book for adults, Obama: An Intimate Portrait, has a counterpart for young readers! Rich, historical images take you behind the scenes of Barack Obama’s groundbreaking presidency and illustrate the qualities and actions that make him so beloved.




The Magic Misfits

by Neil Patrick Harris

Award-winning actor and beloved celebrity Neil Patrick Harris has made his literary debut! His delightful middle grade tale is full of colorful characters and includes instructions for magic tricks every young aspiring magician should know.






Becoming Kareem coverBecoming Kareem: Growing Up On and Off the Court

by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar & Raymond Obstfeld

Any sports fans in the house? Basketball legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s first memoir for kids explores his days as a shy boy named Lew Alcindor, his time as a superstar on the court, and beyond. His story features inspirational messaging and raises timely questions on racial injustice.

The LBYR Stars of 2017

It’s Festivus Time Once Again!



Are YOUR Shelves Strong Enough for THESE

Feats of Literary Strength?



Picture Books to Delight, Amaze & Inform


Princess Hair coverthe Bad Moon and the Stick coverThe Littlest Train cover

Malala's Magic Pencil coverClaymates coverThree Billy Goats Gruff cover


Chapter Books and Middle Grade Novels Guaranteed to Transport


Becoming Kareem coverThe Way to Bea coverI'm Just No Good at Rhyming coverNevermoor coverThe Sweetest Sound coverHigher Steeper Faster cover


 Young Adult Books That Grip You From Chapter One

Bang coverBefore the Devil Breaks You coverBuried Heart coverDefy the Stars coverDevils & Thieves coverDreamland Burning coverThe Hearts We Sold cover
Invictus coverStrange the Dreamer coverTool of War cover

Denver Gifts: Unique Items from the Mile High City

Life is about experiences, not stuff. But sometimes you want stuff to remind you of the experience. There’s something to be said for thinking of others during your travels and getting that gift you just know no one else did—or could. It’s kind of like bringing home seashells from the beach: you want something that you had to be there to get.

Despite the age of online shopping, there are still a few things you can only buy when you are in the Mile High City.

Denver skyline at twilight
Bring home a piece of the Mile High City with these unique-to-Denver gifts. Photo © f11photo/iStock.

Stranahan’s Colorado Whiskey is all about the small batches, but once year they go hyper-local with the coveted Snowflake batches, and folks line up to buy it. Seriously, hundreds of folks—sunny skies or snowy flurries—line up outside the Stranahan’s Distillery to pay about $100 per bottle of the custom-finish blend made by master distiller Rob Dietrich.

“People ask me if I’m ever going to make Snowflake available nationally and I always tell them no, because that’s what makes this release so special. It’s only available for sale at the distillery for one day a year. If you want to get a bottle, you have to come out to Denver and wait in line like everyone else,” Mr. Dietrich said. “Snowflake is my favorite project every year because I get to color outside of the lines, and nose and experiment different cask finishes to see how our original single malt whiskey captures all the nuances of the special barrels.”

The Snowflake single malt whiskey is different from year to year, and 2017’s will be named Quandary Peak (it’s the 20th batch of Snowflake). You can get Stranahan’s other whiskey—including the new Sherry Cask—online, and even request personalized engraving on the bottle, but you’ll have get in line for the limited-edition Snowflake on Dec. 2, 2017. Since you’re here, plan time to tour the distillery, sip some whiskey in their lounge, and shop for hats, t-shirts or blankets, which are also only available on-site.

bottle of snowflake whiskey from Stranahans by the fire
Once a year, people line up to get a coveted bottle of Stranahan’s Snowflake whiskey. Photo courtesy of Stranahan’s.

The I Heart Denver Store is your happy place for all things made locally that celebrate Denver and Colorado—t-shirts, hats, soaps, key chains, little blue bears (a miniature version of the city’s iconic sculpture), tea towels, and lots more. The concept is to support the makers, so proceeds of all in-store and online sales go to the designers and artists. When you shop at one of their two brick-and-mortar locations, the makers get 70%; online they get 60%. Additionally, not all of the products sold here are available online; for example, Vital Industries has an assortment of pint glasses printed with maps of local neighborhoods that can only be purchased in this store.

Even if you don’t get to do the free tour at the United States Mint in Denver, you can go to the on-site gift shop and buy a trinket or treasure only available here. There are gold layover Colorado quarters (not sold online), and for .51 cents a novelty machine will crank out a commemorative penny with your choice of Denver images, including one of the U.S. Mint building. These aren’t the only items for sale in this popular gift store—you can get piggy banks, t-shirts, a variety of coins, puzzles, satchels, and more—but these coins are unique to shopping in person.

It’s true, no one comes to Casa Bonita for the fine cuisine, but you must buy a meal to enter. You may have heard of this themed Mexican food restaurant with actual cliff divers from watching South Park. Once inside, watch the diving show, listen to the mariachi band, and buy a souvenir t-shirt only available on site at El Mercado.

If you need another shirt, make the drive to Red Rocks Amphitheatre’s Trading Post store for a “Red Rocks” t-shirt. The world-famous concert venue allows hiking when there aren’t bands playing, and this little shop is on a trail loop.

red t-shirt with black silhouette of rocks in Denver
Visit the Red Rocks Amphitheatre and buy a commemorative t-shirt. Photo courtesy of Red Rocks Park and Amphitheatre.

Then there are the things you can buy only in Denver, but can’t take with you. These finds are so quintessentially Denver that you might want to check them out between shops:

Stop in at the Wynkoop Brewing Company for a sip of Rocky Mountain Oyster Stout on draft. Hint: do you have the balls to ask what a Rocky Mountain oyster is?

Definitely do not try to take recreational marijuana out of state. Instead, splurge on a cannabis experience with a local. Laws requiring use of this drug to be done in private led to a cottage industry of smoking (or ingesting) pot in a person’s home or business before embarking on a painting class, hike, cooking class, or cannabis-infused massage.

When people ask how you found that special something, just say, “You had to be there!”

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