Guy and Laura Waterman spent a lifetime reflecting and writing on the Northeast’s mountains. The Waterman fund seeks to further their legacy of stewardship through essays that celebrate and explore issues of wilderness, wildness, and humans through the Fund’s annual essay contest.
Interested in entering your essay in our current contest? Learn more here ›
Meet Austin Hagwood, Lela Stanley, and Elise Wallace - Recipients of the 2023 Waterman Fund Essay Contest
The Waterman Fund invites our partners and patrons to a plated dinner on November 4, 2023 to celebrate recent work in the preservation of wild spaces and to spur discussion about the future of wilderness preservation in the Northeast. At this event, the Fund will also welcome Austin Hagwood and Elise Wallace, selected winner and one of our runners up for the 2023 Waterman Fund Essay Contest. Austin and Elise will both read excerpts from their selected pieces on this night.
Austin Hagwood, "Smoke Report"
The fire began when lightning forked and gave birth to blazing triplets. White-hot plasma burst from a storm about the Bitterroot Mountains, burrowed into drought-dried lodgepole bark, and vanished with a crack that scented the air with a coppery tang. From where he stood inside Hell's Half Acre Lookout, a watchtower eight miles from the strike, Mark Moak pulled back a red ponytail and affixed binoculars to his face. The circular lenses encompassed a brutal topography of canyons and cliffs, parched conifers on the border of Idaho and Montana browned from a rainless summer. Air above the treetops shimmered under mid-July heat.
Lela Stanley, "Sky's the Limit"
In the summer of 2020, in the middle of all of it, we had a particular thunderstorm in Washington, DC. It was one in a line of them, a late July mini-season of tempests sweeping east. My girlfriend spent those days in the kitchen, clanking pots and beats, distractants, avoiding the windows. I sat on the porch steps and watched rain turn the air white. We lived near a metro stop, and daily, commuters sprinted past, umbrellaless, caught out under the exploding storms.
Elise Wallace, "Pilgrimage"
"It's good that you're seeing this now because it's about to get catastrophic," Sean Shaheen a retired wildlife biologist, told me. It was afternoon and we were standing in his front yard east of Yellowstone National Park near Cody, Wyoming. Despite the stormy and warm June day our conversation began when I asked about winter. To Shaheen, winters aren't so bad anymore. He remembered when there was about a month of temperatures near negative 30 degrees Fahrenheit, but now it rarely gets below zero.
|Award (in $)
|What Climate Models Don't Show
|Splitting Clouds at the Edge of the World
|How COVID-19 Exposed the Myth of Wilderness and Revealed its Potential: A Reflection on 2020 through a Hike of the Long Trail
|Bird's Eye View
|The Wild Self, What is wild to one is home to another
|Valley of the Bulls
|The Do's and Don't's of Trail Running in the Appalachian Mountains
|Humor in the Wild
|On Ceding Control
|The Torch of Preservation
|No Award Given
|No Award Given
|One Tough Gal
|Lady and the Camp
|Jenny Kelly Wagner
|The Cage Canyon
|A Place for Everything
|On Being Lost
|The Warp and Weft
|Hunting the Woolly Adelgid
|A Ritual Descent
|Kimberley S.K. Beal
|Climate Change at the Top
Additional Notable Essays
November 2008 - Dark Night on Whitewall, Will Kemeza
October 2008 - Looking Up, Sandy Stott
September 2008 - Fay's Quandary Revisited, Nat Scrimshaw
August 2008 - Meditation on Winter Camping, Sally Manikian
July 2008 - A Pocket of the Mountains, N. Blauss
June 2008- The Evolution of a Trail Worker, Matt Moore
May 2008 - A Cup of Mountain Tea, Jeremy Loeb