Time to don hiking boots | NevadaAppeal.com

Time to don hiking boots

Sam Bauman

There are three and a half left – mountain resorts, that is. Squaw Valley, Alpine Meadows are open daily while Sugar Bowl is only open on weekends. So it’s time to start looking at other activities. We’ve come across a book that might help in that hunt.

“Touring the Sierra Nevada,” by Cheryl Angelina Koehler (University of Nevada Press, Reno and Las Vegas, 370 pages, no cover price).

This one is in a class of its own. It’s as authoritative as a AAA map, and as light hearted, witty as Jay Leno. It’s a marvelous work, done with obvious care mixed with a love of the subject. Birds are constant companions on this book’s journey.

This is profusely illustrated with maps and photos (too bad they are black and white, but color costs) and as well organized as a political campaign. It is divided into nine geographical areas, with a final section called “Practical Matters” with advice on such as motels, best dates, etc.

This is not a book you sit down and skim through. We read the first chapter, “Revelations on Interstate 80,” in one long sitting and discovered an amazing amount of information about the road from the Golden Gate in San Francisco to Sacramento. There’s a lot of history in that first chapter, all of it told gracefully and well. Sacramento sights are detailed, Sutter’s Mill story retold, Emigrant Gap and Dutch Flat brought to life, railroads coming in, the work of the Chinese building those railroads, and the story of Donner Pass and those who perished there – all neatly told.

If you’re a hiker, this could be all you need to explore our Sierra Nevada. If you’re more of an auto explorer, this will be worth the investment of time spend reading it and following up on the tips inside. If you’re just someone who likes knowing about where you live, you can’t go wrong with this one.

Contact Sam Bauman at 881-1236 or Sbauman@nevadaappeal.com.

The University of Nevada Press has done a fine job. The graphics are fine, the photos intriguing, the editing tight, showing the fine hand of an experienced copy editor. This is surely a book to be treasured, taken down and read again and again. So much there … If there’s one problem it is that Carson City isn’t mentioned. Well, we know our town so we can get by without it.

“The Joy of Hiking, Hiking the Trailmaster Way,” by John McKinney (Wilderness press, Berkeley, Calif., 288 pps, trade paperback)

Author John McKinney knows his hiking and he’s more than happy to share that knowledge with readers. “The Joy of Hiking” sums up his years as a hiking columnist for the Los Angeles Times, and no matter how experienced you are on the trail, his book is sure to add to your pleasures there.

McKinney hits just about every subject one needs to know about in the wilderness, from the health benefits to hiking in Europe to “Ten Essentials” to “Wild Things.” In between his story are quotes from everyone in the world on hiking, from Buddha’s death-bed advice, “Walk on,” to Garrison Keilor’s, “There is no fever a 10-mile hike can’t cure.” And Ogden Nash: “God in his wisdom made the fly/And then forgot to tell us why.”

The one essential for this writer before hiking the trail is a fueled cigarette lighter. From that all good things flow. McKinney uses an old “Ten Essentials” list that doesn’t include the cigarette lighter but does have these essentials: a map, compass, water, extra food, extra clothes, first aid kit, pocket knife, sun protection, flashlight and matches and firestarter. OK, so if you’re just taking a quick trek around Spooner Lake, this might be a but much, but if you’re taking on the path to Genoa Peak, where traffic is not all that heavy, the list makes sense.

Tips are constant in this book. For instance, there is the “rest step.” Never heard of it but it makes sense. Idea is that when you step forward and down with one foot, pause for second or so. Then transfer your weight to that forward leg. This is slow, admittedly, but it’s better than 20 steps and stopping to gasp and suck in air. He also recommends trekking poles, that famous third-fourth leg, for stability. Use small steps on steep descents and keep the knees loose.

Learned that the hard way by hiking down from the cable car at Squaw Valley and finding that downhill is more fatiguing than uphill.

No price is printed on the book cover, but whatever it is, the book for hikers is priceless.

Death Valley Days

We’re heading for the lowest point in the United States this weekend. We’ll be camping, with luck at the Mesquite campgrounds. As a youth I used to listen to the radio program “Death Valley Days,” complete with music by Ferde Groffe. Doubt if those pleasant sounds will be around, but I’ll take my mini harmonic and see if I can exhale my famous version of “Red River Valley.”

• Contact Sam Bauman at 881-1236 or Sbauman@nevadaappeal.com.