Wednesday, December 4, 2013
The busy summer hiking season is here, but that doesn't mean we can't enjoy a few good books when we're not out tramping along the trail, whether it's around the campfire, up to camp or relaxing at home. Here are three of my current hiking favorites. Enjoy!
"Along Maine's Appalachian Trail," by David B. Field (Arcadia Publishing, $21.99)
This summer will mark the 75th anniversary of the Appalachian Trail, which was completed on Aug. 14, 1937, at a point high on the remote ridgeline between Spaulding and Sugarloaf mountains. Originally planned to extend from Georgia to the summit of Mount Washington, the AT was forged northward with great effort through the wilds of Maine, where it terminates atop Katahdin.
An incredible collection of black-and-white photographs, maps, notes, letters and diagrams, and a detailed narrative tell the amazing account of the planning and building of 280 miles of trail from the Mahoosucs to Baxter Peak.
Many people in the 1920s and '30s said it could not be done, and the Maine AT project might indeed have been impossible but for the dogged determination of trailblazers and the hard work of the Civilian Conservation Corps.
Beyond its completion, however, is the story of how the AT in Maine has been protected, rebuilt and managed by thousands of individuals through the ensuing 75 years.
Field is uniquely qualified to recount this history of the AT in Maine, having served in leadership roles with the Maine Appalachian Trail Club and the Appalachian Trail Conservancy over the years. He also has been a volunteer maintainer on the same 6-mile section of the AT on Saddleback Mountain for over 54 years, possibly the longest tenure of any maintainer in AT history.
The book is the product of painstaking research, and the story is told from the heart of an individual with an extraordinarily close relationship with the AT.
It is certain to be a good read for all AT aficionados.
"The Pacific Crest Trailside Reader: California" and "The Pacific Crest Trailside Reader: Oregon & Washington"
Edited by Rees Hughes and Corey Lee Lewis (The Mountaineers Books, $19.95 each)
The Pacific Crest Trail wends for 2,650 spectacular miles from Mexico to Canada through California, Oregon and Washington, crossing an amazing landscape that ranges from low elevation and hot deserts to snowy alpine terrain as high as 13,000 feet. In fact, the trail traverses 60 major mountain passes, seven national parks, 24 national forests, and 33 designated wilderness areas.
This two-volume anthology offers 95 entertaining short stories about the PCT, from real-life, on-the-trail experiences of PCT hikers to historical accounts to musings by environmental writers.
Through these many enjoyable pages you'll get a vivid picture of the majestic Sierra Nevada and Cascade mountain ranges, experience the toil and elation of hikers, and learn of the rugged pioneering history along the trail route.
Only a handful of Maine hikers have made the entire PCT trek, and this hiker has covered 500 miles from Lake Tahoe to Mount Whitney. Perhaps through these awe-inspiring pages, you too will gain an appreciation for the PCT and a desire to travel west to explore some new hiking territory.
Carey Kish of Bowdoin is editor of the new AMC Maine Mountain Guide. Send other hiking book suggestions to: MaineOutdoors@aol.com