Three Great Outdoors Books—that I didn’t write!

Christmas is almost here. Last night of Hanukkah and Boxing Day closing in closely behind. If you celebrate Orthodox Christmas you have some time! So, if you are still looking for some good gift ideas for the hikers and outdoorspeople in your life, may I suggest these three great new books?

The Disabled Hiker’s Guide to Western Washington and Oregon:

Outdoor Adventures Accessible by Car, Wheelchair, and on Foot (Falcon Guides)

By Syren Nagakyrie

 Finally there’s a well-researched and reliable guide specifically written for disabled hikers for western Washington and Oregon. And what makes this book stand out among similar books that have been written in the past, is the author’s understanding of the diverse needs of disabled people in the outdoors. Nagakyrie is the founder of Disabled Hikers, an entirely Disabled-led nonprofit organization and has worked with many parks and organizations to improve access and inclusion for disabled people.

The book uses The Spoon Rating System as a way to identify how much effort a trail might take. The system is based in an understanding of Spoon Theory by Christine Miserandino (a metaphor for the energy rationing that many disabled and chronically ill people have to do).  The rating offers a representation of the trail’s accessibility, the effort needed to embark on it, and how replenishing the experience may be. In essence it combines accessibility, difficulty and overall quality rating.

The book includes ADA paths, foot trails suitable for disabled hikers and drive up experiences such as the wildlife auto road in southwest Washington’s Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge. In all there are 46 destinations ranging from Mount Baker, Portland and Seattle metro areas, to southwestern Oregon. The book is by no means comprehensive of the trails available to disabled hikers in the region. A Seattle or Portland based hiker looking for something more thorough for their region may be a little disappointed. But if you’re looking for a wide array of trails in some wonderful outdoor destination throughout the region (think travel getaways) then this book will more than satisfy and provide all of the information you need for a fulfilling outdoors experience.

Nature Swagger: Stories and Visions of Black Joy in the Outdoors  (Chronicle Books)

By Rue Mapp

Nature Swagger is a celebration of Black people in the outdoors and a testament to the powerful healing and revitalizing powers of nature for all people. Mapp chronicles her own journey discovering the therapeutic powers of nature through time at her father’s small ranch in rural Lake County California. As a college student she describes having a capstone experience mountaineering and summiting peals in the High Sierra with Outward Bound as the only Black woman in her group. The trip helped her understand the power of nature, but also accented her isolation being with a group who shared different cultural experiences. It would be the impetus to eventually lead her to find Outdoor Afro in 2009—first as a blog-and then as the nation’s leading organization that celebrates and inspires Black connections and leadership in nature.

But Nature Swagger goes far beyond Mapp’s discovery of nature and her creation of Outdoor Afro. It shares stories from a wide array of Black Outdoors voices celebrating Nature and all its healing and inspiring attributes; and seeks to inspire others to connect with nature and each other. The collection of voices in this book is meant to inspire Black communities to reclaim their place in the natural world of hikers, urban farmers, fishers/hunters, surfers, beekeepers, campers, birdwatchers, kayakers, equestrians, and more.

Interspersed throughout this book of personal stories, and profiles, are essays from Mapp on the rich the rich history of Black involvement in the outdoors, activism, and conservation. This hardbound book is meant to empower Black people to rebuild their relationship with nature, highlight visual representations of Black people outdoors, and celebrate the rich history of Blackness in the outdoors. It’s also an inspirational and informative read to all people regardless of their ethnic background, and a testament that the outdoors belongs to all of us and that we can all share in its positive attributes and become part of a shared culture that covets a life outdoors.

52 Ways to Nature Washington:

Your Seasonal Guide to a Wilder Year (Mountaineers Books)

By Lauren Braden

 If you ever wondered what to do outdoors in the off season, this wonderful book will not only provide you with plenty of activities—but also quickly dispel any thoughts that there is an off season. Outdoors writer Braden who founded the local trip-planning website Northwest TripFinder has put together the perfect book to keep you and your family active outdoors all year-round. And she has found 52 ways to do it—one for every week of the year allowing for a lot of discovery and adventure along the way.

This book is organized by season and with each activity she introduces to you she provides plenty of natural and cultural history. She suggests places to partake in the introduced activities that collectively cover the entire state—therefore also introducing you to Washington’s diverse landscapes and historical, cultural and natural offerings. And the book encourages experiential learning promoting immersion activities that connect you with nature. While anyone of any age and background will find this book engaging and encouraging, it’s especially well-suited for families with children. The book has ample space throughout to add your own notes and observations.

The book is ideal for anyone new to the state, but also for those who have lived here for years—prompting them to discover a new activity and area. Go animal tracking, ice skating, camp in a yurt, gather wild edibles, bicycle on an island, go river rafting, explore a tide pool, drop a crab pot, hike to a glacier, saddle up a horse, be a lighthouse keeper, try geocaching, and so much more with this great book as your companion and prompt.

And of course, all of my books make great gifts, too! Thanks for supporting my works and the works of other hard working fine outdoors authors!

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