The Outdoor Writers Association of America has awarded Ann Hirsch’s feature “Getting Off the Grid” first prize in the “outdoor fun and adventure” category of its annual writing contest. The article, which gives tips for safely exploring the backcountry, was published in the September–October 2012 issue of Arizona Wildlife Views.
Ann is the daughter of legendary outdoor writer Bob Hirsch, so she grew up in a family that valued exploring and communicating about the outdoors. Bob wrote for The Phoenix Gazette, The Arizona Republic and other news outlets. He also hosted a television show and a radio show. A generation of Arizonans grew up loving their state’s natural wonders because of Bob’s communication skills.
I think “Getting Off the Grid” succeeded because it was more than a list of tips. Ann made it personal by telling the story of a trip she took with her dad to the Black River. As a new mother, she was nervous about leaving her baby for five days, but she and her father prepared well and traveled safely. In the end, she was glad to have made the journey. “We shared time with each other in Dad’s favorite spot; a beautiful, quiet place in his beloved Arizona outdoors,” she writes.
I think this intimate connection to Bob Hirsch through his daughter’s memories resonated with many readers. It certainly did with me. I had the good fortune of working with Bob for two years. When I joined the staff of Arizona Wildlife Views back in 2005, he was writing a one-page humor feature for every issue of the magazine. I offered the occasional edit, but usually I tried to just let Bob be Bob. I came late to Arizona, so I never saw the TV show or read his earlier articles, but I knew I was working with a legend.
Now, I’m working with a legend’s daughter. It’s a pleasure to celebrate her latest success. I know her dad would be proud.