Backcountry Reading

7:23 a.m. on April 11, 2020 (EDT)
FlipNC
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While a lot of us can't get to the backcountry right now, I thought it would be good for us to share reading selections that let you get out there in spirit at least...

Been rereading my Colin Fletcher collection, as well as Chris Townsend who at least partially filled the Fletcher gap for me after Colin passed away.

Latest is this one...despite the title I think climbers would get even more from it than hillwalkers, but its a great read either way.
20200411_065635.jpgWhat are you reading while sheltering at home?

9:22 a.m. on April 11, 2020 (EDT)
LoneStranger
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Not reading at home, but this was my Winter camping book on a couple of trips this year.


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Sort of a wandering discussion of trails that ranges from visiting a paleontologist studying fossilized trails from organisms that lived 541 million years ago to modern trail building techniques. Not a big fan of the writing style, he repeats himself too much, especially about ants, but some very interesting informational reading.

10:41 a.m. on April 11, 2020 (EDT)
ppine
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"The Maine Guide Canoe"  Jerry Stelmok. 

11:40 a.m. on April 11, 2020 (EDT)
ghostdog
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Right now I’m reading Atlas of a Lost World, Travels in Ice Age America by Craig Childs. I treasure his wanderings and explorations.


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We are still able to get out the into wilderness several times a week while maintaining social distance. On my phone are several reference books. A couple I use to identify plants and their uses are Southwest Foraging and Mountain States Foraging. Both have beautiful, clear images of the plants, where to find them and how to collect and use them. They don’t weigh anything being digital books. I keep quite a few available there.


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3:13 p.m. on April 11, 2020 (EDT)
ghostdog
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I no longer have any paper books to photograph save a couple old ones. For years I’ve kept a digital bookshelf only. Libraries are going digital more and more and there is much less clutter, a thing I’ve been aggressively confronting for a few years now. A little over a year ago now we gave over half our worldly goods to several charities. But I read from 5 to 7 books a month and love the tiny digital footprint.

7:03 a.m. on April 12, 2020 (EDT)
FlipNC
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Ive been trying to switch to ebooks for years, but I still like turning rhe pages. I guess its too much time on the laptop and phone for work...I like to get away from screens. When I walked across Scotland in 2018, one of the little joys was finding a village bookshop and stocking up for the next leg...not ultralight but satisfying to me. Browsing in a brick and mortar book shop can take me hours.

7:07 a.m. on April 12, 2020 (EDT)
FlipNC
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A quote from this mornings read...

"You dont learn much from bright and sunlit days when everything goes to plan, you learn from howling blizzards, hours lost in mist when the compass needle seems to lie."

7:33 a.m. on April 12, 2020 (EDT)
LoneStranger
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Reading in camp is a Winter activity for me. When the nights are 15 hours long I find rereading the Long Trail Guide or some other matter that is laborious to read is a good way to pass the time. Given the low temperatures, often below zero, electronics are not the way to go for me. Batteries don't last long when it is that cold. Besides, the labor of turning pages with wool sleep gloves on my hand is part of the experience :)

In warmer weather the nights are never long enough for sleeping so there is no need for reading material.

10:30 a.m. on April 12, 2020 (EDT)
ppine
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I like paper  Good post by LoneStranger. 

I do my best thinking in a hot springs, in a hot tub or with my dog in a tent. 

11:18 a.m. on April 12, 2020 (EDT)
ghostdog
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FlipNC said:

Ive been trying to switch to ebooks for years, but I still like turning rhe pages. I guess its too much time on the laptop and phone for work...I like to get away from screens. When I walked across Scotland in 2018, one of the little joys was finding a village bookshop and stocking up for the next leg...not ultralight but satisfying to me. Browsing in a brick and mortar book shop can take me hours.

 

I have used an iPad for 6 years now and find it more liberating than paper books and physical libraries or bookshops. You can choose any book that was ever created, not just what they have on the shelves at the time. But there will always be the retro folks. While walking around the shady lanes of the neighborhood this morning to warm up for a regiment of weight lifting we see who still has a physical paper delivered. Granddaddy was a newspaper man as a career so he would approve.

But I can do a lot with highlighting and making notes for certain passages and keep them organized. I can also carry the complete works of Jack London, Shakespeare and Blake as well as many others…the reference books too which I’m finding very valuable. Don’t try that with paper in the backcountry. When doing 50 nights out a year I’ll be doing a lot of reading no matter what time of year. I blame two of my earliest teachers. Plenty of time for everything when you go often.

1:09 p.m. on April 12, 2020 (EDT)
FlipNC
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I'm with you on the benefits of ebooks...just tired of screens by the end of the week. Another decade or so until I retire then I'll be an ebook convert! Right now if I look at a screen it reminds me of work...except for the odd checkin on TS that is. 

2:04 p.m. on April 12, 2020 (EDT)
balzaccom
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Ghostdog, thanks for the tip about Atlas of a Lost World.  We've read Finders Keepers and House of Rain by Craig Childs.  Both enjoyable, so we'll have too track Atlas down, too.

We love Mountaineering in the Sierra Nevada by Clarence King, for a fantastic vision of what it might have been like a hundred and fifty years ago.

And we've recently discovered Gary Noy--who teaches history at Sierra College in the foothills.  We really liked Sierra Stories...and he has more books to find.

And we love just about everything by Tony Hillerman--mysteries that really capture the Southwest...

3:35 p.m. on April 12, 2020 (EDT)
ghostdog
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Balzac you may like Early Days is the Range of Light by Daniel Arnold. It is a collection of thrilling history of exploration there in and recreations of the routes with the early and rather meager gear lists and the evolving of gear. He follows several iconic and some less known.

Atlas is good. I wouldn’t put it up as high as House of Rain but still very good so far. I liked The Way Out too. Soul of Nowhere was an early favorite of the Craig Childs books. His perspective, sense of adventure, humility and well researched knowledge from first hand accounts, people of various scientific backgrounds that he has met or traveled with paint a palpable image that is compelling. If the evidence is thin he doesn’t try to hide that. Finders Keepers was very good too. I could not find your Clarence King book on BARD which I’ll explain below. I think he was in the Daniel Arnold book, intrepid characters in that one.

Phil, I started reading digital with an iPad because of my eyesight. Then I learned all the benefits I had not known. Some dedicated e-readers have an almost ink and paper look. I do find an iPad screen far superior to my desktop monitors. I don’t have a desktop anymore and only use an iPad or iPhone. My eyesight is worse than 20/200 now so I had to switch to audiobooks. The National Library of Congress BARD accepted me so I have access to any book in their extremely extensive library and all are immediately available. I simply can’t read print anymore and though the world looks like an impressionistic painting I can still hike rough terrain but have a very hard time seeing rattlesnakes before I’m right up on them. So I pray for good food, good literature, good hikes and the forbearance of reptiles. ;)

7:10 p.m. on April 12, 2020 (EDT)
balzaccom
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Ghostdog: I think you can get a free copy of Mountaineering in the Sierra Nevada online via nook or kindle.  If not, it is really inexpensive.

10:34 p.m. on April 12, 2020 (EDT)
ghostdog
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balzaccom said:

Ghostdog: I think you can get a free copy of Mountaineering in the Sierra Nevada online via nook or kindle.  If not, it is really inexpensive.

 

Thanks! .99¢ at Kindle and free at Project Gutenberg but no audiobook exists. Trouble for me is there is no way I can read a 300 page book even with enlarged print. Still could last year but things change. This is a progressive disease I’ve dealt with for 30 years now. I’ve learned to compensate in many ways but really have to go to audiobooks now. Can’t see well enough to have a driver’s license either.

It takes about 9 months to produce an audiobook. That is why they are so expensive.

I’m about 2/3 through Atlas of a lost world now and really cherish his style of writing and travel. He narrates the book too and has a great voice for that performance. We are at the Clovis now. There are some sites not to Far East of here with kill site troves. Makes me want to go walk about some.

2:39 a.m. on April 13, 2020 (EDT)
BigRed
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10:19 a.m. on April 15, 2020 (EDT)
ppine
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"Building the Maine Guide Canoe"

Jerry Stelmok. 

12:42 p.m. on April 15, 2020 (EDT)
KiwiKlimber
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Just finished up this one by Dylan Tomine. An easy read published by Patagonia (I didn't realize they had a book publishing division until I picked this one up). A great read, especially for those who know the PNW. Closer-to-the-Ground.jpg

Before that I read this one, which is a bit older (2006) and won a bunch of awards, but I never got around to reading it until now. I couldn't put it down and the story has definitely stuck with me. 
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I've been scanning the National Outdoor Book Awards master lists to find other titles to read. 

12:45 p.m. on April 15, 2020 (EDT)
KiwiKlimber
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LoneStranger said:

Sort of a wandering discussion of trails that ranges from visiting a paleontologist studying fossilized trails from organisms that lived 541 million years ago to modern trail building techniques. Not a big fan of the writing style, he repeats himself too much, especially about ants, but some very interesting informational reading.

 

Couldn't agree more. I picked up this book from the library and returned it before finishing. I just couldn't get into it and the writing style was a pain. I don't usually quit a book before finishing, but I also think books should be enjoyable...which this one was not. I was bummed, because it sounded really good, reviews were good, and it was well awarded. Not for me though. 

5:30 a.m. on April 16, 2020 (EDT)
BigRed
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Some years ago I started this thread on the book Dead Mountain. Bill S was pretty critical of the author's interpretation, but it's certainly an intriguing unsolved mystery.

I read The Last Season a few years ago, a good but sad story. 

Some long-standing and recent favorites in a more or less outdoor vein, in no particular order (lots of polar exploration, survival, some climbing, but also other themes):

Great Heart (Davidson / Rugge)

Farthest North (Fridtjof Nansen)

The Last Place on Earth (Roland Huntford)

The Emerald Mile (Kevin Fedarko)

Winterdance (Gary Paulsen)

The Tower (Kelly Cordes)

Mawson's Will (Lennard Bickell)

The Arctic Grail (Pierre Berton)

Into the Wild (John Krakauer)

In the Kingdom of Ice (Hampton Sides)

A Year in the Maine Woods (Bernd Heinrich)

Into the Void (Joe Simpson)

The Wild Trees (Richard Preston)

In the Heart of the Sea (Nathaniel Philbrick)

Born to Run (Christopher McDougall)

The Last Whalers (Doug Bock Clark)

Ruthless River (Holly Fitzgerald)

Solo Faces (James Salter)

Blind Descent (James Tabor)

The Greenlanders (Jane Smiley)

The Long Ships (Frans Bengtsson)

Lost City of the Monkey God (Douglas Preston)

The Devil's Highway (Luis Alberto Urrea)

The Last Wild Men of Borneo (Carl Hoffman)

No Better Friend (Robert Weintraub)

The Oregon Trail (Rinker Buck)

Nature Noir (Jordan Fisher Smith)

Sorry, I got carried away, but I'd consider any of these books worth a reread.

6:32 a.m. on April 16, 2020 (EDT)
LoneStranger
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KiwiKlimber said:

LoneStranger said:

Sort of a wandering discussion of trails that ranges from visiting a paleontologist studying fossilized trails from organisms that lived 541 million years ago to modern trail building techniques. Not a big fan of the writing style, he repeats himself too much, especially about ants, but some very interesting informational reading.

 

Couldn't agree more. I picked up this book from the library and returned it before finishing. I just couldn't get into it and the writing style was a pain. I don't usually quit a book before finishing, but I also think books should be enjoyable...which this one was not. I was bummed, because it sounded really good, reviews were good, and it was well awarded. Not for me though. 

 I found that the annoyance of his writing style made the book a perfect reader for Winter camping. If a book is exciting and fluidly written the pages fly by too fast. Tent reading on a 15 hour night is about spending time and having to stop every few pages to say, "Enough with the ants already! You've told that story every ten pages, just stop!" makes the book last longer.

My usual reader for that purpose is actually the Long Trail Guide. It is written NOBO but I read it SOBO and while the prose is wonderful, going the opposite way makes for hard reading. I've read that guide, well different versions of it, probably 20 times by now. Sure would be nice to get another shot at hiking it :)

9:13 a.m. on April 16, 2020 (EDT)
andrew f. @leadbelly2550
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my time for longer trips has been scarce lately, but i'm pretty much a kindle user now.

-the battery lasts a really long time. like a month or two.

-it's small - 5 inches by 6 inches, roughly (the oasis).

-it substitutes for the stack of books and new yorker magazines that used to pile up on my nightstand. takes up a lot less space than a pair of paperbacks.

-backlit so easily readable in a tent without burning headlamp time.

primary downside is that it's thin, so you have to take some care when you pack. don't want to pull compression straps and damage it. best to put it in a ziplock bag, like you should with your mobile phone or any other electronics not intended to get wet.

i usually read whatever i'm reading anyway - which varies a lot. 

10:07 a.m. on April 16, 2020 (EDT)
Terry Hannum
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Ive never posted on TrailSpace but read almost all the valuable reviews faithfully.  You are all my kinda people!   My recent book recommendation is a historical fiction about hardship and travels just post Lewis and Clark.   It is called ASTORIA.  

10:17 a.m. on April 16, 2020 (EDT)
KiwiKlimber
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Great to have you join the conversation, Terry. Welcome to Trailspace!

Thanks for the recommendation. 

Many great points have been made about e-readers (thannks folks), but I still can't bring myself to using one. Between temps, up front cost, and battery, I'm sticking with my paper copies, at least for now. 

11:15 a.m. on April 16, 2020 (EDT)
LoneStranger
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I totally could see ebooks on a tablet or phone if I was car camping for an extended period of time. When I'm backpacking I go to a lot of effort to get where I am so I like to pay attention to it while I'm there. Just sitting and looking at my surroundings is far more entertaining than any book could be.

15 hour nights are the exception because I can only sleep so many hours and its too dang cold out there to be standing around enjoying the stars.

2:20 p.m. on April 16, 2020 (EDT)
ghostdog
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Terry Hannum said:

Ive never posted on TrailSpace but read almost all the valuable reviews faithfully.  You are all my kinda people!   My recent book recommendation is a historical fiction about hardship and travels just post Lewis and Clark.   It is called ASTORIA.  

Welcome!  Astoria was a very excellent book. I have that on my Kindle app for iPad and iPhone. That book is full of adventure and early American histor.y. 

7:32 p.m. on April 16, 2020 (EDT)
FlipNC
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Welcome Terry and thanks for the recommendation. I may have to pick that one up. Undaunted Courage is one of my favorite reads about Lewis and Clark.

Thanks all...a great list to dig through and select from!

8:53 p.m. on April 16, 2020 (EDT)
balzaccom
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I have an e-reader (nook) but I've also got the app on my phone.  I use it to read Out of Copyright books that I can get for free there. 

And in light of Terry's contribution, I would also recommend The River of Doubt, about Teddy Roosevelt in the Amazon.  Quite a story, and a wonderful explanation of the man's character and style.

9:40 p.m. on April 16, 2020 (EDT)
ghostdog
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balzaccom said:

I have an e-reader (nook) but I've also got the app on my phone.  I use it to read Out of Copyright books that I can get for free there. 

And in light of Terry's contribution, I would also recommend The River of Doubt, about Teddy Roosevelt in the Amazon.  Quite a story, and a wonderful explanation of the man's character and style.

 
The River of Doubt is another real good historical adventure.

With Nook or Kindle you can find an ocean of good library books too. Our library uses the Overdrive app for both ebooks and audiobook.

12:02 p.m. on April 17, 2020 (EDT)
Alicia MacLeay @Alicia
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Welcome, Terry! Thanks to you and everyone for the suggestions above. I will have many titles to add to my always-growing to-read list.

While I prefer print books, I'm pushing myself to reconsider whether I need a physical copy or not, in order to reduce clutter and consumption. I also like them if traveling; if I run out of books I can always download another.

I was checking out a Maine bird guidebook the other day and paused to consider whether I really needed another print book or if in this case it made more sense to get it digitally (I downloaded the sample for now). Plus, in this case, I'd always be carrying its information on my phone.

That said, I still enjoy a bookshelf filled with books and browsing in a bookstore. I have The Overstory lined up in my pile to read next (BigRed and I have overlapping lists!).

Some books mentioned above that I also heartily recommend include:

  • Into the Void
  • Great Heart
  • In the Heart of the Sea
  • Lost City of the Monkey God

Here are some that I don't think have been mentioned:

  • 438 Days: An Extraordinary True Story of Survival at Sea by Jonathan Franklin
  • Adrift: Seventy-Six Days Lost at Sea by Steven Callahan
  • The Blue Bear: A True Story of Friendship and Discovery in the Alaskan Wild by Lynn Schooler
  • Long Distance: Testing the Limits of Body and Spirit in a Year of Living Strenuously by Bill McKibben
  • The Northern Lights by Lucy Jago—it's about the Norwegian scientist searching for the cause of the Northern Lights
  • The Stranger in the Woods: The Extraordinary Story of the Last True Hermit by Michael Finkel—not only is it interesting, it takes place in my town
  • The Perfect Mile: Three Athletes, One Goal, and Less Than Four Minutes to Achieve It by Neal Bascomb—obviously this is running-focused versus outdoor adventure, but for a book where I knew the outcome I found it fascinating
  • The Soul of an Octopus: A Surprising Exploration Into the Wonder of Consciousness by Sy Montgomery—I look at octopuses differently after reading this book
  • Also in science, anything by Mary Roach
  • Welcome to the Goddamn Ice Cube by Blair Braverman
  • Not Without Peril: 150 Years Of Misadventure On The Presidential Range Of New Hampshire by Nicholas Howe
  • Deep Survival: Who Lives, Who Dies, and Why by Laurence Gonzalez
  • DeLorme state maps—they sadly don't make them anymore, but they are amazing resources
  • Born to Ice by Paul Nicklen—a very expensive wildlife photography book by a very talented National Geographic photographer, ocean conservationist, and co-founder of SeaLegacy
  • The Ascent of Rum Doodle by William Ernest Bowman—I found this 1956 parody in a used book sale years ago and found it very amusing.
  • The Accidental Adventurer: Memoir of the First Woman to Climb Mt. McKinley by Barbara Washburn—While her husband Bradford has an impressive legacy, Barbara deserves notice as well for her accomplishments.

And for younger explorers:

  • Owl Moon by Jane Yolen—a beautiful children's book
  • Heart of a Samurai by Margi Preus
  • A Long Walk to Water by Linda Sue Park
  • Hatchet by Gary Paulsen
  • The Hobbit by Tolkein (and The Lord of the Rings)

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12:16 p.m. on April 17, 2020 (EDT)
FlipNC
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Great additions...I am still torn as to why I like print over ebooks. I think it is primarily to get away from all the screens that I use every weekday...but browsing through a good, musty smelling, used bookstore and finding a gem in the back is still one of the small joys in life. Im reading A Hundred Years in the Highlands by Osgood McKenzie this week. Written in 1922 and found in a small bookshop in Edinburgh last time I was in Scotland for the equivalent of less than 5 dollars.

1:11 p.m. on April 17, 2020 (EDT)
Old Guide
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I don't take books on the trail but I definitely will always prefer paper over ebooks, no comparison  for me and right now am  reading a book printed in 1888 tho the true stories in it were written earlier.

1:48 p.m. on April 17, 2020 (EDT)
ghostdog
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We all learned to read with paper books and did that for many decades. So we remember the pleasure of having and using them. I had two huge bookshelves from ceiling to floor filled with tons of books. Bookshops are indeed pleasurable experiences too. But there are many online bookshops that are much easier to navigate, search, research and immediately procure a book. More books are being published now as the risk of printing and distribution is not a hindrance.

I have over 300 books on my phone and they don’t add physical space or weight. I used to be like some of you saying to myself “those ebook folks are crazy, what’s the matter with these kids”. But I got to handle a Nook HD for a week about 7 years ago and that changed my mind. I went down to Best Buy and got hands on with every tablet and that is a lot. I came home with an iPad after much research and eventually tossed out my desktop. The screen is far, far different. Then I got an iPhone and tossed the landline. The phone has reference books, cameras, gps nav, a barometer, digital wallet and more. It has lightened my load.

I keep several audiobooks on it and listen with wireless Bluetooth AirPods. In the tent at night with cold winds blowing outside, I have amazing entertainment. Better than any movie.

It is good to have these choices. If the wolf is hungry the food is there.

2:37 p.m. on April 17, 2020 (EDT)
FlipNC
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Agree completely Ghostdog. I am pretty sure I'll convert to ebooks when I retire and don't have to look at a screen 8 or more hrs a day when I'm not in the field. That's the main driver for me...just dont need any more ethings in my life right now...nothing inherently against ebooks.

3:39 a.m. on April 18, 2020 (EDT)
BigRed
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At home I read a lot on my iPad. We have our own adventure library, including paper copies of most of the books I listed above, but I'm not sure I need to store a paper copy of everything I read, and I don't much mind reading on a screen. On the trail, if I'm really getting down to basics, I'll read on my iPhone, where like Ghostdog I may have several unread books to choose from, along with field guides to birds and wildflowers (often superior to paper versions), sometimes a guidebook to the area I'm visiting, navigation capability, camera (but I still prefer to have a standalone camera), communication when I have a signal, Scrabble and Carcasonne, music, podcasts... That's a lot of uses in a small package, even if I have to carry a backup battery. On backpacking trips it mostly stays switched off and silent during the day, but it can be nice to have those options, and I don't generally use it to listen to anything because I'd rather be in tune (so to speak) with the surroundings. In huts, I see nothing wrong with a friendly game of full-contact Scrabble or listening to some music or a podcast while puttering around in the early morning. And when it comes to bedtime reading in a tent, I like being able to read one-handed, turning pages with a thumb flick, with the other hand comfy and warm in the sleeping bag. 

5:57 a.m. on April 18, 2020 (EDT)
BigRed
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Regarding the The Last Hermit, I haven't read the book but remember the story in the newspapers. But it brings to mind the story a less-isolated by equally ascetic man, "the Snow Cave Man (Snøhulemannen) here in Norway. Her is a link to a one hour documentary about this unusual fellow:

https://vimeo.com/ondemand/19908

11:20 a.m. on April 18, 2020 (EDT)
ghostdog
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I went on from Atlas of a Lost World to Escalante’s Dream, David Roberts which was good but it looks like we may lose David Roberts as his cancer is progressing. I’ve read many of his books over the years.

Currently I’m on A Boy and his Dog at the End of the World, Charlie Fletcher which is surprisingly good and outdoorsy.

Books are doors and stepping through takes you far away in place and time. A good way to learn and improve too.

As far as A Stranger in the Woods…I liked the book but not the pathological thief who was the subject of the book. In the 27 years he was doing it he never had even one fire, he never produced one thing, stole food, gas, tarps, batteries, books, clothing and really made a mess of that community to the point they all suspected each other and it altered their lives forever in a very negative way. But the book is indeed enlightening and a good read.

5:05 p.m. on April 20, 2020 (EDT)
g00se
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Not a book, but recently I started listening to podcasts. This is my current favorite. 


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9:35 p.m. on April 20, 2020 (EDT)
KiwiKlimber
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After reading this thread, if I'm not careful, I may just spend my entire stimulus check on books. 

8:49 a.m. on April 21, 2020 (EDT)
Bentbrook
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These are on my desk as quarantine reads...the-natural-navigator-by-tristan-gooley.jpg

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9:17 a.m. on April 21, 2020 (EDT)
Alicia MacLeay @Alicia
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I thought of some more!

  • Snowstruck: In the Grip of Avalanches by Jill Fredston
  • Women on High: Pioneers of Mountaineering by Rebecca A. Brown

Some historical fiction:

  • The Voyage of the Narwhal by Andrea Barrett
  • The Revenant by Michael Punke—historical fiction account of Hugh Glass (apparently there's also a 1954 version, Lord Grizzly by Frederick Manfred, which was a finalist in the National Book Awards)

Some straight up fiction, with survival:

  • Cold Mountain by Charles Frazier—a soldier's long walk home after the Civil War
  • Life of Pi by Yann Martel—a unique shipwreck survival story

Some more history:

  • We Die Alone: A WWII Epic of Escape and Endurance by David Howarth
  • Alive: The Story of the Andes Survivors by Piers Paul Read
  • No Picnic on Mount Kenya: A Daring Escape, A Perilous Climb by Felice Benuzzi
  • Endurance: Shackleton's Incredible Voyage by Alfred Lansing

These I haven't read yet, but have given to my son:

  • The Last Voyageurs by Lorraine Boissoneault—16 high school students and 6 teachers recreate the voyage of René Robert Cavelier, Sieur de La Salle, the first European to travel from Montreal to the end of the Mississippi River
  • Island of the Lost: An Extraordinary Story of Survival at the Edge of the World by Joan Druett 
  • Frozen in Time: An Epic Story of Survival and a Modern Quest for Lost Heroes of World War II by Mitchell Zuckoff

And for little kids, anything written and illustrated by Jim Arnosky, such as Rabbits and Raindrops or Wild Tracks!: A Guide to Nature's Footprints

9:19 a.m. on April 21, 2020 (EDT)
Alicia MacLeay @Alicia
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ghostdog said:

As far as A Stranger in the Woods…I liked the book but not the pathological thief who was the subject of the book. In the 27 years he was doing it he never had even one fire, he never produced one thing, stole food, gas, tarps, batteries, books, clothing and really made a mess of that community to the point they all suspected each other and it altered their lives forever in a very negative way. But the book is indeed enlightening and a good read.

 I understand that view. I find it a sad story overall for everyone involved.

10:27 a.m. on April 21, 2020 (EDT)
BigRed
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Re: We Die Alone:

For me Thomas Gallagher's Assault in Norway is the definitive account of the heavy water sabotage operations in Norway during WWII. Amazing true story with some ropework and ski action. The 2015 Norwegian TV dramatization is very good, but I wish they'd given more time to the actual sabotage operation. The 1965 Kirk Douglas movie version is meh, maybe wort a watch for buffs.

3:02 p.m. on April 21, 2020 (EDT)
ghostdog
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Alicia said “Cold Mountain by Charles Frazier—a soldier's long walk home after the Civil War”

That is such a good book, much deeper and richer than the movie. I think I’ve read that book three times. Anything by Charles Frazier is very worthwhile. I’ve read all his published books. Varina was the latest and Nightwoods before that. Thirteen Moons was a book I read long ago. His books seem to take on a kind of gothic noir to them.

9:07 a.m. on April 22, 2020 (EDT)
Alicia MacLeay @Alicia
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Thomas Gallagher's Assault in Norway is now on my to-read list.

I keep a list of books I've read, with a star rating, on Goodreads.com. I also have a backup excel document list that I started before Goodreads existed.

I find it useful to recall what I've read and generally if I liked it or not, as well as books I may want to read someday.

***

I loved Cold Mountain and for that reason I couldn't see the movie and still haven't. I know it was nominated for awards, but I've avoided it. I also recall liking Thirteen Moons. I haven't read Varina though.

9:33 a.m. on April 22, 2020 (EDT)
Patman
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Alicia,

You can hike and camp on the summit of the actual Cold Mountain from that story. Here is my camp there from 2016 (lol, it was single digits, so literally very cold); I was testing that BioLite stove which is the source of the smoke you see:


20161215_171857-L.jpg

2:38 p.m. on April 22, 2020 (EDT)
ghostdog
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Alicia I think Cold Mountain remains Frazier’s best story but all of his other books have such good a writing style and are so skillfully wrought.

I liked the movie but it and the book are two very different things. It would be impossible to do the same with cinema unless a lot more voice over narration was used.

11:13 p.m. on April 22, 2020 (EDT)
Mentalfloss1
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Anything by Craig Childs, but especially House of Rain and The Secret Knowledge of Water.  The latter will make your throat feel parched.

And here are two out-of-print books, at least as far as I know, that are great for the outdoors.


Book-Blue-Mountain.jpg

Book-REI.jpg


12:04 a.m. on April 23, 2020 (EDT)
Hersh Johnson
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Two in a Red Canoe: Our Journey Down the Yukon

By Matt Hage and Megan Baldino

Across the Olympic Mountains: The Press Expedition, 1889-90

by Robert Wood

Undaunted Courage

by Stephen E. Ambrose

Walking Man: The Secret Life of Colin Fletcher

By Robert Wehrman  

The Man From the Cave

by Colin Fletcher

5:05 p.m. on April 23, 2020 (EDT)
Patman
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Just wanted to say thanks for this thread.  I have a big list now!

3:39 a.m. on April 24, 2020 (EDT)
BigRed
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I may have to track down a copy of The Man from the Cave. Reminds of the the Everett Ruess story. I read David Roberts' book on that, Finding Everett Ruess, but it doesn't quite make my A-list. In the same vein as Into the Wild, a dreamer goes and gets himself dead, but unsolved and so unsatisfying.

For an interesting online read, try this first-hand account of an obsessive search for the Death Valley Germans. Might be a bit too granular for some, but it illustrates the kind of second-guessing that goes into figuring out where disappeared people might have headed.

9:02 a.m. on April 24, 2020 (EDT)
ghostdog
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BigRed said:

I may have to track down a copy of The Man from the Cave. Reminds of the the Everett Ruess story. I read David Roberts' book on that, Finding Everett Ruess, but it doesn't quite make my A-list. In the same vein as Into the Wild, a dreamer goes and gets himself dead, but unsolved and so unsatisfying.

 

I really liked Finding Everett Ruess. Some do find him self absorbed and overly entitled but he did do far more than most in a few short years than most anyone today will do in a long lifetime. I highly recommend David Roberts book.

As far as into the Wild, the problem is more with what Jon Krakauer left out of his book, the horrific early home life the subject endured. He was running away from that reality as much as to some dream of a logical and pleasant existence. The book had a giant invisible hole in it which was a terrible injustice imo.

9:59 a.m. on April 24, 2020 (EDT)
cynthia @cynthia 2
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Wow! This is great! I will be saving all of these recommendations. I'm always looking for this kind of read, but sifting through amazon is not as productive as this stream!

I agree with mentalfloss1 that anything by Craig Childs is a great read, but ESPECIALLY his "The Animal Dialogues: Uncommon Encounters in the Wild". If your trail joy includes animal encounters, you will love this book. It's so well written and describes his amazing animal encounters that most of us will never experience. The mountain lion and the ravens are 2 of my favorites, but there are many, many more! I've passed it to so many people and every one of them loved the book and said they simply wished for ONE of his amazing encounters.


images.jpg

10:19 a.m. on April 24, 2020 (EDT)
tdelpeck
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A serendipitous moment this morning as I was catching up on email has led to my first post (after years of reading everyone else’s). I clicked on the link to this thread just after I had read an email with a link to (sorry, cannot link. google: "new york times climate change book list"), A NYT list of books on climate change for Earth Day. While the usual suspects are there (McKibben, Egan, &c.) there are some new reads, both fiction and nonfiction, that I am going to find.

For my part, I have enjoyed Silas Chamberlin’s On the Trail: A History of American Hiking and Ben Montgomery’s inspirational Grandma Gatewood’s Walk (which came at a time that I was struggling with tendinopathy in the calf and plantar fasciitis in both feet).

The other thing that drove my first post was Alicia’s picture that had John McPhee’s Annals of a Former World, his collection of four volumes on geologic development. McPhee is one of the finest nonfiction writers I have read and many of his works are about the natural world (Founding Fish, Coming into the Country, Survival of the Bark Canoe, and Control of Nature (part of which I use in my class).

Thanks to all for many more recommendations.  As John Steinbeck said, “So much to read and so little time.”

10:23 a.m. on April 24, 2020 (EDT)
Alicia MacLeay @Alicia
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Good thing my to-read list on Goodreads is limitless; I've been adding books since this thread started.

I've never read anything by Craig Childs, so I'm adding some of the recommendations above to my list. "The Animal Dialogues" sounds especially interesting.

Tdelpeck, I always try to read the titles of books in bookshelves in pictures, on screen, etc...so I'm glad the John McPhee pulled you in. He deserves some attention as an author here. 

After I took those two pictures above from our bookshelves I thought, "I should have curated that picture to include a better representation and to feature certain books" and so on, but I didn't. It's a little random, but that's OK.

3:58 a.m. on April 25, 2020 (EDT)
BigRed
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tdelpeck said:

... Control of Nature (part of which I use in my class)...

 One of my favorites, and I used to use a few parts of it in class as well.

"The river goes through New Orleans like an elevated highway. Jackson Square, in the French Quarter, is on high ground with respect to the rest of New Orleans, but even from the benches of Jackson Square one looks up across the levee at the hulls of passing ships. Their keels are higher than the AstroTurf in the Superdome, and if somehow the ships could turn and move at river level into the city and into the stadium they would hover above the playing field like blimps."

7:29 a.m. on April 25, 2020 (EDT)
FlipNC
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Ironically as a non ebook guy, I have been adding a lot of titles from this list to MyLibrary app to keep track...a must for someone with memory like mine. I was in the used book store last year and picked up about 20 books...when I got home I realized not only had I read two of them already and had one on the bookshelf, but I had actually purchased the same book twice that day...wandered by the shelf at the beginning and end of the shopping and got two copies!

Thanks for the awesome recommendations and long list of quiet mornings reading with coffee. Off to the deck now for a read.

8:54 a.m. on April 25, 2020 (EDT)
ghostdog
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Phil, I keep track with the Notes app on the iPad. One  note holds every book I’ve read since starting it about 5 years ago and the other note holds all the books I want to read. The library’s Overdrive app also has a wish list that can also show all the books on the list that are currently available. With the BARD app from NLC everything they have is immediately available. They also have a wishlist and I’ve currently got 49 books line up there. So I too think lists are a valuable tool. 

9:08 a.m. on April 25, 2020 (EDT)
tdelpeck
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Big Red, that is the chapter I use as well.  The hubris of man, displayed with the Mississippi moving Old Man River Dam as it wants to go one way and man wants it to go another.

9:25 a.m. on April 25, 2020 (EDT)
balzaccom
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BigRed said:

I may have to track down a copy of The Man from the Cave. Reminds of the the Everett Ruess story. I read David Roberts' book on that, Finding Everett Ruess, but it doesn't quite make my A-list. In the same vein as Into the Wild, a dreamer goes and gets himself dead, but unsolved and so unsatisfying.

For an interesting online read, try this first-hand account of an obsessive search for the Death Valley Germans. Might be a bit too granular for some, but it illustrates the kind of second-guessing that goes into figuring out where disappeared people might have headed.

 I agree with this recommendation of Death Valley Germans---but don't start it unless you have some free time to spare.  It is addictive.  Great story. 

12:08 p.m. on April 25, 2020 (EDT)
BigRed
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tdelpeck said:

Big Red, that is the chapter I use as well.  The hubris of man, displayed with the Mississippi moving Old Man River Dam as it wants to go one way and man wants it to go another.

 When teaching about mass wasting, I also used to use a section of "Los Angeles Against the Mountains" from the same book, ending in this little family scenario:

"Now Bob Genofile was thinking, I hope the roof holds. I hope the roof is strong enough to hold. Debris was flowing over it. He told Scott to shut the bedroom door. No sooner was the door closed than it was battered down and fell into the room. Mud, rock, water poured in. It pushed everybody against the far wall. “Jump on the bed,” Bob said. The bed began to rise. Kneeling on it—on a gold velvet spread—they could soon press their palms against the ceiling. The bed also moved toward the glass wall. The two teen-agers got off, to try to control the motion, and were pinned between the bed’s brass railing and the wall. Boulders went up against the railing, pressed it into their legs, and held them fast. Bob dived into the muck to try to move the boulders, but he failed. The debris flow, entering through windows as well as doors, continued to rise. Escape was still possible for the parents but not for the children. The parents looked at each other and did not stir. Each reached for and held one of the children. Their mother felt suddenly resigned, sure that her son and daughter would die and she and her husband would quickly follow. The house became buried to the eaves. Boulders sat on the roof. Thirteen automobiles were packed around the building, including five in the pool. A din of rocks kept banging against them. The stuck horn of a buried car was blaring. The family in the darkness in their fixed tableau watched one another by the light of a directional signal, endlessly blinking. The house had filled up in six minutes, and the mud stopped rising near the children’s chins."

1:07 p.m. on April 25, 2020 (EDT)
balzaccom
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Reminds me of a story from the Napa earthquake a few years ago.  I was talking to my contractor about it, and he told me that when the earthquake started, he leaped out of bed and stood between the bed, a bookcase, and a large armoire, trying to hold the bookcase and armoire in place and protect his wife on the bed.  And as he told it:

"So there I was.  The tectonic plates of the earth were moving, and I was trying to hold everything in place!"

Happily, both he and his wife escaped without injury...

1:59 p.m. on April 25, 2020 (EDT)
ghostdog
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I read the entire Death Valley Germans years ago, the whole compelling saga. I remember when he finally tracked them down and found the woman’s notebook if I’m recalling correctly. There was a final note? But the author didn’t try to photograph it, seems like he was afraid of destroying it. He showed the Inyo sherif who told him they wouldn’t try to translate it as they had no German speakers in the office. The author said that then he knew what kind of an organization he was dealing with. I mean wow, I translate things from and to many languages all the time, easy with technology that they had at that time too. So that still haunts my imagination as to what her last words were.

When I was younger I went out into mid day 120° F down near the Colorado River around Laughlin for a couple hours just to experiment and it was surreal. Never did it again. We get up hours before sunrise and ramble hard, get back in by 8:30am most of the time. Heat kills a bunch of folks down here every summer, many immigrants trying to cross desolate terrain to evade capture. Death Valley is far beyond any of that.

Germans in general are an adventurous group. We have come across them in some of the hardest to reach, cut off, most remote places.

2:07 p.m. on April 25, 2020 (EDT)
BigRed
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ghostdog said:

 Heat kills a bunch of folks down here every summer, many immigrants trying to cross desolate terrain to evade capture. 

 Another book, then: The Devil's Highway by Luis Alberto Urrea. Story of some border crossers in the Sonoran Desert in S. Arizona. Not all of them make it. When my wife and I visited Organ Pipe during our AZ sojourn, I went for a run (it was February) mainly on dirt roads but I took a shortcut over a low pass where I found a lot of cast off clothing, water bottles, and the like. Kind of spooky.

3:17 p.m. on April 25, 2020 (EDT)
ghostdog
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BigRed said:

ghostdog said:

 Heat kills a bunch of folks down here every summer, many immigrants trying to cross desolate terrain to evade capture. 

 Another book, then: The Devil's Highway by Luis Alberto Urrea. Story of some border crossers in the Sonoran Desert in S. Arizona. Not all of them make it. When my wife and I visited Organ Pipe during our AZ sojourn, I went for a run (it was February) mainly on dirt roads but I took a shortcut over a low pass where I found a lot of cast off clothing, water bottles, and the like. Kind of spooky.

 

Very good book. That is one I’d recommend too.

We have found a lot of the same, the cast off clothing and water bottles. There is one place in particular that we found very spooky in the same way you did. We traveled cross country through Ironwood National Monument to a place of ancient archeological sites, finding painted potsherds and petroglyphs along the way. But in some areas there were many dozens of discarded backpacks of the same manufacture as well as clothing, water bottles and the like. Just all over the place. The. We came across a fresh trail with shoe imprints.

Once I did some aerial mapping work down at Organ Pipe. The ground surveyor told me that he saw over a hundred migrants a day crossing his area of work. We stopped going down around the border for hiking years ago because of the high smuggling of both humans and illegal substances. Too bad because there are some incredible places down there.

11:04 a.m. on April 27, 2020 (EDT)
Alicia MacLeay @Alicia
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Audubon recently posted this:

Hey, Nature Lovers, Looking for a Good Book to Read?

Margaret Atwood, Omar El Akkad, Delia Owens, and five other authors are here to help.

https://www.audubon.org/news/hey-nature-lovers-looking-good-book-read

2:07 p.m. on May 4, 2020 (EDT)
ppine
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Reading while in the back country, makes even difficult books seem possible to understand.  I like journals like Powell and Lewis&Clark a lot. 

Once I kept trying to write a play for my parents' 70th Wedding Anniversary and my Dad's 90th birthday.   I was having a very difficult time.  I went backpacking and worked on it every night by headlamp.  After 3 days there were 10 acts.  The performance was a hit and has been recorded.  A quiet mind and a tired body made all the difference. 

May 25, 2020
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