Award-winning author shares her hiking and writing journey

Lisa Maloney, the author of “Day Hiking South Central Alaska,” will be visiting the UAA Bookstore on April 23 from 4 to 6 p.m.

Lisa Maloney along Eklutna lakeside trail. Photos courtesy of Lina Villar.
Lisa Maloney along Eklutna lakeside trail. Photos courtesy of Lina Villar.

Both the event and bookstore parking are free. Maloney will highlight her favorite trails, her writing experience and discuss hiking through a question and answer section.

“[My guidebook] is for anybody and everybody who is interested in getting outside. There is no restriction on age when it comes to hiking in Alaska,” said Maloney.

Her travel guide features a review and description of 100 trails from Mat-Su Valley to Kachemak Bay. It is useful for finding hiking trail based on location, quality, elevation, length or features such as waterfalls.

“The scope of [the travel guide] is part of what makes it special. There are lots of great books that cover the Anchorage area, but this is the only one, as far as I know, that exists to cover that wide of an area with that much scope,” Maloney said.

Her book also covers traveling tips such as wildlife safety and what to carry in case of emergencies.

Maloney monitored the difficulty and quality of each trail on a scale of one to five. To make the ratings more objective, she measured difficulty by dribbling a soccer ball on the paths. For example, a rating of one means the average person could dribble a soccer ball on the path with ease. A rating of three means that he or she would have to chase the ball around in order to get through a rougher trail.

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“There are definitely trails to suit every level of mobility,” Maloney said.

Lisa Maloney sitting on “The Perch,” near the Eagle River Nature Center.
Lisa Maloney sitting on “The Perch,” near the Eagle River Nature Center.

Some trails are a challenge for avid hikers while others are fit for a family to walk with ease or are accessible for people traveling with walkers, canes or wheelchairs. Maloney hopes that anyone who comes to the event will leave with a desire to go hiking.

Maloney has lived in Alaska for almost 30 years. She has been hiking since she was a teenager.

“[Alaska] is the only place I could ever call home,” she said. “It feels good to have some sort of connection to the natural world.”

She began her full-time free-lance writing career by writing a hiking column for the Anchorage Press. In addition, Maloney has written two other books, “Moon Alaska” in 2017 and “Explorers Guide 50 Hikes Around Anchorage” in 2010. She won a second place award for “Moon Alaska” from the North American Travel Journalists Association.

She leads a life of adventure and variety. Though Maloney has wanted to be a writer since she was a child, she has tried multiple other professions, including studying mathematics at UAA and learning how to be a personal trainer and a flight attendant. However, undiagnosed dyslexia made writing classes difficult for her.  She credits her success as a writer and editor to learning by experience, trying new things and even her dyslexia.

“My brain is wired a little differently,” Maloney said. “I’m good at [editing manuscripts] specifically because I’m not editing according to the way that things look or according to a set of rules. I edit according to the way they sound or feel. I relate to the world in a very kinesthetic sort of way.”

Special events coordinator Rachel Epstein’s mission is to engage people with inclusive events such as Maloney’s.

“The goal with all the bookstore events is to bring people together and have a chance for our guest speakers to share what they care about,” Epstein said.

Epstein encourages others to attend, as she is excited to be there herself.

“I’m really looking forward to this book because I’d like to get out more and I’d like to see places I haven’t seen. This book is something we all can take advantage of,” Epstein said. “Lisa is an ‘Anchoragite’, and it will be interesting to see what she has to say about getting outside here.”

Copies of “Day Hiking Southcentral Alaska” will be available for purchase and signing at the event. The book can also be purchased on Amazon, Mountaineers, Barnes and Noble and other local bookstores for $21.95.

For anyone unable to attend, bookstore events are recorded and available on iTunes.