For Mike Bezemek (B.A., geology, ’03), outdoor adventure was as important as academics to his college experience. That’s why UC Davis was his first choice. “I grew up in the Bay Area, but always felt more connected to the mountains. UC Davis was in the right direction toward what I was interested in,” he said.
Bezemek, a freelance writer and photographer, has crafted a career that combines his passion for natural landscapes with his love of literature and writing. He is the author of “Paddling the John Wesley Powell Route” and “Paddling the Ozarks” for FalconGuides, and his Twit Lit Classics books “#Frankenstein” and “#Moby-Dick” (for Skyhorse Publishing) retell classic adventures through tweets. And as a contributing editor for Canoe & Kayak magazine, he writes and photographs two blogs. He has also been published in Adventure Cyclist magazine, Adventure Journal, Bull: Men’s Fiction, The Morning News, and Hobart.
As far back as high school, Bezemek envisioned he would become a writer. He was first inspired to fuse outdoor adventure and writing in a journalism class in the UC Davis College of Letters and Science where he wrote articles about scientific research and whitewater paddling. “I’m interested in stories where there is an element of discovery involved,” he said. However, Bezemek eventually decided to major in geology, with classes focused on understanding the amazing landscapes where his trips take place. “Geology is a really creative science, and they let me customize things a little bit,” he said. After graduating, Bezemek worked as a researcher for three years before moving to St. Louis to pursue a graduate degree in writing at Washington University. He then taught writing courses for Washington University while building his freelance career.
Bezemek now specializes in writing about paddling, such as kayaking, whitewater rafting, paddleboarding and packrafting — though his stories can encompass all types of outdoor exploration, including biking, hiking and even treasure hunting. He often targets his features toward enthusiast explorers, such as weekend warriors and people visiting a river for the first time. “My goal is to get people interested and excited about paddling and exploring,” he said. Bezemek himself had little experience with water sports until college — he found instruction in kayaking and whitewater rafting through Campus Recreation’s Outdoor Adventures.
Bezemek’s latest book, on the iconic and historic John Wesley Powell expedition through the Southwest, melds his outsider perspective with his knowledge of rivers. “It’s a little different from a standard guide book; it’s a celebration of the route,” said Bezemek, who retraced the rugged 1,000-mile journey. Readers will get practical trip-planning information along with full-page color photos, interviews, magazine-style articles, and a multipart retelling of the 1869 expedition. “I hope to get people excited about conservation along this route,” he said. “If you want to preserve a place, the first thing you need to do is show people what’s there.”
— Becky Oskin, content strategist in the College of Letters and Science