Libraries are a cornerstone of healthy and vibrant communities. They serve so many roles and meet the needs of so many people. Using data from all over California, the Panorama Project identified the state’s most requested book–that they didn’t have available–with the idea of “what are libraries and bookstores missing? What titles are their patrons really after?”
It should come as no surprise to anyone in the local library space that the title with the most unmet demand in libraries in California over the summer was a regionally focused travel guide: Tom Courtney’s Walkabout Northern California. Library patrons are looking for local travel books. They want to get out and explore their unique communities and skip the tourist traps. These are just a couple of reasons that people seek out books like Walkabout Northern California at their local library.
Published by Wilderness Press, Walkabout Northern California describes 14 walks in the wilds of Northern California, and each entry includes “a map, mile-by-mile details of the route, logistical tips on places to stay and eat, and inspirational ideas to simplify your travel and reconnect with nature’s rhythm.”
Wilderness Press books are available through AdventureKEEN’s full catalog, as well as through all the standard library distribution channels such as Ingram and Baker & Taylor. Wilderness Press is attending ALA and PLA this year. We are happy to help support libraries and want to make sure that our local nature and travel titles are available to everyone.
Saturday, February 22, is National California Day. The tradition of celebrating each state with its own day began in 2017. Starting on the week of Independence Day, each state was given a day by National Day Calendar®, based on the order in which it entered the union. As the 31st state (admitted September 9, 1850), California’s day falls in the 31st week after July 4. How does one celebrate? National Day Calendar suggests that you “take a tour of California and find something new to discover.” At AdventureKEEN, we think a fantastic way to do that is by tackling a few hiking trails!
Your National California Day can include a breathtaking hike to North America’s tallest waterfall, Yosemite Falls. Or traverse the McWay Waterfall Trail in Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park to see the unparalleled beauty of mountains meeting coastline. Explore the awe-inspiring forests and giant trees at the Redwood National and State Parks. Experienced hikers and backpackers might want to explore the challenging Lost Coast Trail.
Regardless of where you find yourself—or at what skill level of hiking—chances are good that there are beautiful hiking trails nearby, perfect for you. If you aren’t sure how to begin your National California Day outing, you’re in luck. AdventureKEEN has been helping people like you get outdoors and into nature for more than 50 years. The popular guidebooks 101 Hikes in Northern California and 101 Hikes in Southern California are great places to start.
Written by hiking expert Matt Heid, 101 Hikes in Northern California benefits readers by narrowing down the multitude of options for hiking in Northern California to the very best of the best adventures. It covers hiking trails in the northern two-thirds of the state, including nearly the entirety of the Sierra Nevada, south to Kings Canyon National Park, and the entire Big Sur region along the coast, south to Silver Peak Wilderness.
The southern portion of the state is covered in 101 Hikes in Southern California by Jerry Schad and David Money Harris. For National California Day, you can trek the diverse terrain—from desert to beach to mountaintop—on an easy stroll or overnight excursion. The guidebook covers the Santa Monica, San Gabriel, San Jacinto, and San Bernardino mountains; the Mojave and Colorado deserts; and many more iconic locales.
These guides are unique in the amount of natural history information they provide, and they include essential directions for completing a trip. Best of all, you can find hiking trails within a short drive of you; recommended outings are spread out across the entire state.
Now is a great time to get outdoors and celebrate National California Day. Countless opportunities await. And if you aren’t in California, no problem. Find a hike near you, and enjoy the Great Outdoors!
You want to choose the perfect present for your special Valentine. Flowers, chocolates, teddy bears, jewelry—maybe you’ve done that before, or maybe it seems too cliché. You need a gift that feels more personal, that suggests you took some time to pick it. For this reason and more, I love giving books—and I suggest you do the same. Following are 5 reasons why books are among the best gift ideas for Valentine’s Day or any day.
1. They Are Thoughtful
You can find books about almost anything. This makes it pretty easy to get the best books for your Valentine, if you’re paying attention. Does she have a favorite author or a unique hobby? Is there something he’s always wanted to try but isn’t sure how to get started? Think about how your special someone spends her leisurely time, and get a book that supplements that. Or maybe the right gift is a guidebook to a place that he dreams of visiting. The possibilities are endless, and the right book is always a very personal gift. It says, “I know you, and I know what you love.”
2. They Are Fun
The best gift ideas are a delight to receive. We can always use more socks, but who loves receiving a package of those? Books, on the other hand, are fun for your Valentine to get. What’s waiting beneath that cover? Will it be countless hours of entertainment? The instructions needed to begin a new adventure? Beautiful photographs that spark an imagination? It’s a thrill to flip the book open and find out.
3. They Are Inexpensive
A safe ballpark estimate for your bookish gift is $20. Of course, you can find many of the best books for less. Or you might spend more if you’re looking at larger formats, hardcover, full-color, and the like. But compared to jewelry or a dozen roses, you’re getting a great deal on one of the best gift ideas you can give.
4. They Are Practical
Every book serves a purpose. It might be to entertain or inspire. Maybe it’s to help readers find and enjoy new places. It could be to teach new skills or to educate on a given topic. By giving a book, you are giving something that your Valentine can and probably will use.
5. They Are Memorable
Introduce your special someone to a new author or series. Get him started on a hobby or her planning the next vacation. You will forever become associated with those memories. Better yet, make it a tradition. Another beautiful thing about giving books is that it’s easily repeatable: more from the same author, series, or genre locks in your association with the topic, making one of the best gift ideas even better. Bonus Tip: Write a lovely note to your recipient on the book’s title page, along with the date given, to make it a personalized keepsake.
Skip the candy shop and the jewelry store. Hopefully, you can see why the quickest path to the heart of your Valentine goes through your local bookstore.
We could argue endlessly about where to go for the best family vacation. Some might say Disneyland; others will name a national park like the Grand Canyon. You’re always right with a trip to Hawaii—and the “Garden Island” of Kauai. It combines some of the best offerings of different vacation options.
For Nature Lovers
Nature’s beauty is everywhere. The Kauai weather is tropical, so the forecast is always warm or warm and rainy—ideal growing conditions. We stayed on the south side of the island (recommended) at the end of January. Temperatures were in the low- to mid-80s, perfect for the best family vacation. Only one day brought extended rain, and it felt gloriously refreshing to be in it.
Some of the most breathtaking views are found on this island in Hawaii. The Waimea Canyon is called the Grand Canyon of the Pacific. A few minutes from there is the Kalalau Lookout. My wife called it “the most beautiful spot in the world.” It’s a picturesque view of the Kalalau Canyon and the ocean. A slow drive to the north end of the island brings you to the Napali Coast. It’s another spectacular spot, well worth seeing. But we spent a total of 4 to 5 hours in our rented Jeep Wrangler. If you’re on the south side of Kauai, think twice about making the trip. And to maximize your best family vacation, go as early in the day as possible.
If you love the ocean, surround yourself with it in Hawaii. We stayed at a resort on the famed Poipu Beach. It’s perhaps the island’s most popular beach because it’s sandy, clean, generally calm enough for swimming/snorkeling, and it attracts plenty of sea life. We saw humpback whales in the distance, we spotted monk seals lying in the sand, and my 9-year-old accidentally found himself swimming with a sea turtle.
One of our favorite adventures was whale-watching via Blue Dolphin Kauai. We lucked out with perfect Hawaii weather conditions. We were even luckier on this best family vacation: Our captain found the humpback whales as we were leaving port, and he stayed with them for 2 hours. Around 10 or 12 males were chasing 2 females. The captain told us that the males breach more often during mating season. Sure enough, we saw around 20 breaches!
For Thrill Seekers
If you’re an amusement park kind of person, there’s no shortage of activities. You can try helicopter rides, zip-line tours, fishing expeditions, ATV excursions, and more in Hawaii. My favorite activity on this very best family vacation was mountain tubing with Kauai Backcountry Adventures. We floated down the irrigation system of an old plantation. We traveled in a beautiful rainforest and passed through several dark (and often long) tunnels on our way to a quaint picnic lunch.
There’s no shortage of delicious dishes in Kauai, especially if you love fresh seafood and even fresher fruit. Plus, with Hawaii’s relatively new focus on local farming, a lot of the meats—especially beef—now have that fresh, local flavor. The famous Puka Dog lived up to the hype on our best family vacation. It was so delicious that I ate there no less than four times. Brick Oven Pizza was another fantastic spot, as was Da Crack and their burritos. I enjoyed shave (not “shaved”) ice every chance I got. However, the award for best meal of my week went to the sampler platter at Chicken in a Barrel. The plate of BBQ food was under $20, and my wife and I shared it. Of course, for a combination of food, local culture, and lively entertainment, be sure to book dinner at a luau.
For Couch Potatoes
If your idea of the best family vacation is to “be lazy,” Kauai is a great place for that. You can relax on the sunny beach (perhaps even book a beachfront massage). You can find a comfy spot on the patio. Or you can remain indoors. With a cool ocean breeze always blowing in, just open the windows and enjoy—no air-conditioning needed. Go to CVS and buy the world’s best gummy bears: Island Cravings Baby Gummy Bears. Grab yourself a Mai Tai or some guava juice, and relax.
To find even more fun and adventure for your best family vacation in Kauai, check out AdventureKEEN’s popular guides like Hawaii Trails and Hawaii Wildlife Viewing Guide.
I don’t know about you, but I’ve had it with this winter season. In Minnesota, it’s been cold and snowy. And cold. And snowy. The weather forecast calls for more of the same in February, March, April, and into forever. We won’t get discouraged, though, right? Winter isn’t going to beat us. We only have between 2 and 700 months to go. To help us persevere, I grabbed a copy of Surviving Minnesota Winter by Brett Ortler. Following are five tips to help us make it through the winter season and to the fabled land called Spring.
Go Shopping for Clothes
Are you looking for a reason to love the cold? Does the weather forecast have you feeling blue? Good news: layering up is never more in fashion than during winter. Treat yourself to new sweaters, hats, mittens, and more. For best results, your bottom layer of clothing should be polyester or wool. Your insulating layer should be wool or fleece. Your outer layer (e.g., a big, warm parka) should ideally be goose down.
Eat, Drink, and Be Toasty
When it’s too cold to go anywhere without an emergency survival kit, stay home. Cook some comfort food. Popular options during the winter season include buffalo wings, pho, wild rice soup, and just about anything else that makes you feel warm inside. For a treat that’s chillier than the weather forecast, winter is traditionally the time to make homemade ice cream too.
Try a Winter Science Project
As awful as the season sometimes feels, it is “cool” to get your geek on. The famous boiling water trick is always a crowd-pleaser. There is a safe and effective method for doing it. Here’s what Surviving Minnesota Winter says about preventing injury: “If you want to try this at home, keep in mind that the effect is more dramatic if it’s colder, and you need to take proper precautions—wear safety gear and be darn sure about the wind direction when you throw the water. A surprising number of people are burned each year while trying this.” Other popular options presented in the book include growing snow (in the house), freezing a bubble, photographing snowflakes, and more.
Find a Winter Hobby
For some crazy people, when snow is in the weather forecast, it’s reason to rejoice. I admit it: the winter season offers some epic options for outdoor adventure. You can start with the basics, like building a snowman or sledding down a hill. Hikers can snowshoe. Runners can cross-country ski. Anglers can ice fish. And let’s not forget pond hockey, snowmobiling, downhill skiing—and more! If I didn’t know better, I’d say winter almost sounds a little fun. Almost.
Go on Vacation
My favorite way to thumb my nose at the frigid temperatures is to get out of town. A week-long vacation in Florida, Arizona, or Hawaii sounds heavenly. But a winter-season getaway doesn’t need to be that elaborate or expensive. A weekend stay at a hotel (with a hot tub, of course) does wonders for refreshing the body and making the weather forecast seem almost bearable.
For more ideas—and for advice on everything from winterizing a home to creating an emergency survival kit—check out Surviving Minnesota Winter. It’s available wherever books are sold.
“Carry as little as possible but choose that little with care.”
~ Earl Schafer
I have an obsession with pack weight. I got it early in my backpacking days while carrying a base-weight that must have been in the 45-pound range. After a few trips with a 3-pound sleeping bag, 4-pound pack, heavy stove, heavy leather boots, and lots of extra stuff I didn’t need, I began to make different choices when it was possible to replace or eliminate something. I have an older post, “Preparing for Multi-Day Backpacking Trips,” at ozarkmountainhiker.com that was well received. For this post, I’m focusing specifically on pack weight.
Over the last 20 years and after a lot of trial and error, I’m carrying a base-weight of 9–10 pounds when I’m using my lightest options. Base-weight is your pack-weight before adding food and water. The photo above shows my pack with food for two nights and water included.
Going lighter is all about personal choices. I’m sharing the following, not because this is how it should be done, but to give ideas and possibilities for going lighter. If you have a trick that works for you, please share with me through the contact page. I love to pick up good ideas from readers. I will mention brand names for clarity in this post, but I’m not endorsing any company.
The big three areas for discussion are Sleep System, Shelter, and the Pack. Reducing weight here has the most significant impact on pack weight.
1. Sleep System: Rest is essential to your trip’s success, so this is no place to skimp on cost—but a good down quilt is less than a sleeping bag. I use an Enlightened Equipment 20-degree down quilt and a silk bag liner for a weight of about 1 lb. 4 oz. Twenty-degree sleeping bags weigh around 2 lbs. 6 oz. to over 3 pounds.
I’ve used air sleeping pads with good results except for the occasional leak. There are lighter and more rugged options.
If I’m going my lightest, I prefer a Therm-a-Rest foam pad with two extra foam cutouts to avoid cold spots where most of my weight makes contact. I’m a side sleeper, so one extra 6×8-inch pad goes under my hipbone, and the other goes under my shoulder. I cut the two extra pieces from a full-sized foam pad to make it a 2/3 pad after cutting another piece for Hiker-dog. She loves her foam sleeping pad! In cold weather, I place my pack under my feet to get up off the ground.
For me, a pillow is essential. I now use a Platypus water pouch filled with air inside a small pillowcase along with extra clothes. During the day and in camp, I use the pouch to store extra water. If there’s water in the pouch in the evening, I pour it into my cookpot for the next morning’s eggs and coffee. I like double-use items.
2. Shelter: There are lots of options here, and I’ve tried several over the years. Right now, I’m using a Big Agnes Silver Spur 2-person tent (2 lbs. 12 oz.) when I expect cold temperatures and want to keep Hiker-dog in the tent with me. When I want to go my lightest, I use a ZPacks tarp. I love the tarp because it’s flexible, lightweight, and I can feel close to my surroundings. If it’s bug season, I pitch a screened Enlightened Equipment bivy sack under the tarp. I sometimes use a piece of plastic under the foam pad in non-bug season. A backpacking tent can easily weigh 4 lbs. The tarp, stakes, and plastic ground cloth add up to 16 oz. With a bivy sack, it’s 21 oz.
3 The Pack: On the John Muir Trail and for many Ozarks trips, I use my Granite Gear Crown 60 pack. I love that pack, and it handles a bear canister well. If I’m going my lightest and a bear canister isn’t required, I use a ZPacks Nero that is super light.
Packing the pack (my way) – Place all items that must remain dry in a trash compactor bag. Both the Zpacks and Crown 60 packs area simple tubes. Pockets, compartments, and zippers are nice but add weight.
The foam sleeping pad is placed against the pack walls, adding structure to the lightweight floppy pack. I press the tarp into the bottom so any moisture will move down from there. Then I press the trash compactor bag into the tube containing the down quilt, silk sleeping bag liner, and extra clothes. Lastly, I pack the food/kitchen bag.
Lightweight hacks: Here are a few tricks I’ve picked up from other hikers and reading:
Hydrating light: If I use a filter, it’s the Sawyer mini squeeze filter. If the water is cloudy, I sometimes pre-filter with my bandana and then the Sawyer filter. If I’m going my lightest, I use Aquamira water treatment drops, rebottled in small plastic bottles. I prefer the drops and leaving the filter in the bag or at home. Sometimes I carry both drops and a Sawyer, depending on what I expect to find out there.
Cooking light: Sometimes, I cook on a fire if there’s already a fire ring and it’s a high-impact campsite, but the stove I carry is a titanium Esbit stove with two fuel cubes for each day. I have a pocket-rocket type of stove that works well, and sometimes I carry that, but it’s heavier, and I despise giving pack space to fuel canisters. I have a Jetboil and would use it for a large group where we wanted to boil lots of water quickly without having a bunch of stoves. A Jetboil could save weight for a group, but it’s heavy for an individual. One of my main trail friends uses a Whisperlite, and he’s masterful with it, but it is a slightly heavier option.
My cookpot (Toaks 550 ml) and cup are titanium. Some prefer a larger pot, but this one boils water for coffee and scrambled eggs, although it does get close to the rim with evening meals. I made a pot cozy using foam and Gorilla Glue that extends the cooking time and keeps the food warm while I eat it. I love coffee and have a somewhat unique coffee recipe. I sometimes wish my mug were bigger, but it fits nicely inside my pot.
Food is generally heavy. I rarely use commercial freeze-dried meals, preferring to pack my own using soups, instant potatoes, and Knorr meals as a base. Add dehydrated vegetables and freeze-dried chicken to make good meals with less packaging and weight. I carry trash in an empty coffee bag. It’s light, durable, and I don’t have to look at my trash as with a plastic bag.
Trekking poles: Hiking poles aren’t a necessity, but I find they improve my stability, especially going downhill. They can also serve a dual purpose as tarp poles. Lightweight and simple are my favorite features. I don’t care for fancy adjustments/shock absorbers; I sometimes see hikers playing with their stick lengths to the point of frustration because of tricky mechanisms. I use Black Diamond Distance Z trekking poles (non-adjustable).
Shoes and socks: I wear lightweight, low-top hiking shoes or trail running shoes. I use crocs for creek crossing and around camp. I carry two pairs of Darn Tough socks with one pair on my feet and a backup pair in my pack. Everything adds up, so wearing lightweight clothes makes a difference in the weight your knees and feet will feel on the trail.
Personal items: What do I really need? I used to tweak around with toothbrushes, trying to lower the weight. I settled on tooth powder for a while instead of toothpaste. Now I just carry a roll of floss; that’s all. I floss each evening. Each morning I snap off a green twig and “brush” my teeth while walking along. After a few minutes, my teeth feel as clean as ever.
Luxury item: Give yourself one. It might be an iPod or some other item that adds to your enjoyment. I love my double-wall titanium mug, but it would qualify as a luxury item, so it never makes backpacking trips. My favorite luxury item is a package of wet-wipes. It feels good to clean up before sleeping, keeps the silk bag liner cleaner, and keeps down the stink.
Speaking of stink…. proper pooping is important! There’s a whole book on the subject! For the Ozarks, bury your business away from the trail or water, and pack out any toilet paper. I like to use leaves when possible to reduce the use of toilet paper, although I still carry a little. I like what Ultralight Backpackin’ Tips by Mike Clelland has on this subject and many more.
Life is all about nuanced choices, and the same is true of packing light. Experimenting with your gear can be fun and add to the anticipation of a trip, or it can drive you crazy and annoy those around you.
I think maybe “closet ultra-light backpacker” is the way to go. Quietly make decisions that reduce your pack weight, but don’t initiate conversations about subtle differences between the Toaks titanium cookpot over the MSR Titan Camping Kettle. It is better to have campfire conversations about the trail, scenery, and life.
Enjoy your light pack and the places your happy feet will take you!
If you want to hit some beautiful Arkansas and Missouri trails, pick up my book, Five-Star Trails: The Ozarks.