On September 14, 2010, I took advantage of the warm, sunny, day--unseasonably so, the locals said--and headed to Angel Rocks, a popular hiking and climbing site in the Chena River State Recreation Area, 49 miles northeast of Fairbanks.

I started this blog to share my thoughts, experiences and photos from my year in Alaska.

In August 2010, Brian O’Donoghue at the University of Alaska Fairbanks offered me the prestigious position as the Snedden Chair in the Department of Journalism for 2010-2011. What an opportunity!

I gave two weeks’ notice and resigned from my job as the higher education reporter at the Corvallis Gazette-Times and gave notice on my beloved downtown apartment with a view of the Coast Range. I had less than three weeks to pack, put my belongings in storage and fly to Fairbanks. No time for a scenic drive!

Since arriving in late August, I have been blessed with a wonderful place to live and new friends. I’m enjoying teaching and I’m learning a lot about weathering the winter and vanishing light, about Alaska Native culture and local writers (including Sherry Simpson, whose books my friend, Martha, recommended. It’s a glorious adventure…and as often as I can, I will share parts of it with you.

I am a veteran reporter and photojournalist. I invite you to view my photographic work at www.isisphotos.com.

I am also the founder and president of Isis Initiative, Inc., a non-profit that offers scholarships to women overseas, who have the desire but not the resources to pursue a college education.

16 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Linda Stanley
    Oct 28, 2010 @ 15:10:18

    Please subscribe me by email to your site – love the blogs


    • north2thefuture
      Oct 28, 2010 @ 17:07:47

      Hi Linda: Thank you for the feedback. I don’t know how to subscribe you. I believe it may need to be initiated from your side. Let me check and I’ll get back to you.


  2. Joe
    Jan 15, 2012 @ 12:35:30

    Miss Cheryl Hach
    I am A member of the 73 En RCP unit that you recently wrote about. I met you and your companion, RJ a couple of times and was impressed with what I saw. I must admit, my view of reporters and their coverage of the military is a bit less that amazing but you have displayed respect and poise in your writing. I am thankful that there is someone like you who is not out to make some point or get a quick story but tells a more human side of this all. You have respected our privacy and our fallen brothers memory by being discreet. I am glad to say that I can hold what you do and who you are with respect. You probably don’t remember me but I will always remember you.


    • north2thefuture
      Jan 15, 2012 @ 14:39:31

      Joe, I am deeply touched and honored by your words. I will share them with JR. Your words will mean a lot to him, too. With your permission, I’d like to repost them. We are definitely aware of some soldiers’ mistrust of and animosity toward members of the media. We bumped up against it a number of times. I bet I’d remember you. Are you in the group photo? I’ll look for you face if you point me in the right direction. And thank you again for taking the time to write. I know time (and computer time) is a precious commodity. Your words have truly touched my heart. I know a soldier’s respect isn’t easy to come by. Take care of yourself. Cheryl


      • Joe
        Jan 15, 2012 @ 20:39:06

        You may use it if you like. I am the fifth guy from the left kind of behind the first row. look for the skinny white guy ha ha. Anyway I do not look for any recognition but you my use the post. I was in the race and came in towards the middle of the pack as well.

  3. militarywifetheology101
    Jan 19, 2012 @ 21:09:49

    My name is Tia Dye, and you spent some time with my husband and his unit. I enjoyed following your posts and the pictures that came with them. I read this “About” post today, and it dawned on me that you might be able to help me and hopefully many of the soldiers redeploying to Alaska this spring.

    I spent this past year in Nevada to be with family during my husband’s deployment, and the absolutely best experience I had this year was a 6 week Veteran’s Writing Project put on by the local Veteran’s office. With assistance from the local colleges and university, and a generous donation of time from talented writing educators, they brought together veterans and family members once a week to workshop writing pieces. Most of the work produced, if not all, was military oriented and much of it was presented orally at a local bookstore on Veteran’s Day. The experience for me, and for others, was very therapeutic. Many of the group continue to meet on a monthly basis.

    I am moving in March to Ft. Wainwright, where we will live for the next 12-18 months. What I am very interested in is helping get an ongoing writing group(s) together that are of a similar nature to the one I participated in, supporting the reintegration process for the soldiers and their families. My hope is to find a couple of writers/teachers that would be interested in mentoring such a group on a regular basis, and I am thinking perhaps your time in Fairbanks might provide a couple leads or information.

    Articles such as the one below strengthen my determination that this would indeed be an asset to the Wainwright/Fairbanks community.

    Any help you could provide would be greatly appreciated.


    • north2thefuture
      Jan 19, 2012 @ 21:24:44

      Ms. Dye:

      You’re Maj. Dye’s wife! It’s nice to hear from you. Thank you for your note. I think it’s a brilliant and important idea, writing through the transition home. If I were in Fairbanks, I would certainly participate–even help lead–this group. Since I’m not in Alaska at present, I will do my best to help from afar. Why don’t you contact me through the email on my website (www.isisphotos.com) and we can start a conversation? I’m in Kuwait at present, so Internet (possibly SKype) is the most effective way to communicate.

      I will continue to post blog entries for quite some time. There simply weren’t enough hours in the day while I was in Afghanistan.

      My best,


  4. Steve Clements, Seattle
    Jan 22, 2012 @ 16:56:08

    I was with the 1st of the 5th in Vietnam, May 1969 to April 1970, 2nd Platoon Charlie Company. I got to your blog by way of the batallion Facebook page back in Fairbanks. I am SO GLAD to have these two ways that I can see a little of what my young brothers and sisters, and their families, are going through. Your reporting, courage and service are especially excellent. Thank you very much.


    • north2thefuture
      Jan 22, 2012 @ 20:31:37

      Thank you for your kind words. And thank you for your service. (My father was a combat engineer in Vietnam. Two tours.) With your permission, I’d like to post them and share them with the soldiers of the 1-5.

      I am no longer in Afghanistan though I will continue to write blog post and articles for some time. You can find them on this blog–and probably on the 1-5 FB page, too.

      Again, I really appreciate your positive feedback. Cheryl


  5. Alex Salmon
    Jan 27, 2012 @ 10:42:32

    I saw the link to your blog on the 1/25th FaceBook page. I definitely appreciate the work you put in while in Kandahar. Your blog will also provide the opportunity to let my kids read about where I worked for a year, with not only the Arctic Wolves but the Canadian Forces as well. Thank you for a job well done.


  6. Luke Heikkila
    Feb 09, 2012 @ 06:55:19

    AMAZING…thanks for your efforts. I’m embedding with a National Guard unit from Minnesota in April. Your insights and photos are adding to my excitement to experience SE Afghanistan. Regards, Luke


  7. Joseph
    Mar 28, 2012 @ 09:21:24

    Mrs, Hach,
    I have begun a blog with a strong military focus and I invite you to check it out if you have the time. I have only just begun so it is kind of a work in progress but you might enjoy what i have to say.


    • Joseph
      Mar 28, 2012 @ 09:23:31

      It is called underneaththeuniform.wordpress.com


  8. Cindi L.
    Mar 22, 2016 @ 01:04:56

    I believe I met you a few years ago at a press conference in Anchorage, where you and JR gave a presentation that touched me. There have been many times I’ve recounted the stories of Afghanistan that JR told and shared in his photographs.

    In going through some old emails I found one to my son who was on his second tour overseas, this time in Kuwait. That email asked if as a fellow Alaskan would he visit you if at all possible, as you were in the hospital then. How I knew that is lost to me now, but in finding that old correspondence I had to find out what had happened to you in the ensuing years. How delightful to know you are well, learn of your nonprofit and to find your blog!


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