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Favorite Outdoors Books


Korey

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What are your favorite books about the outdoors you've read?

I'm a big Krakauer fan so naturally I have to include Into the Wild, and Into Thin Air in my list. I particularly love Krakauer's analysis of Chris McCandless, and think it challenges anyone who thinks he was a fool wandering off into the woods. Wild was a good read, and A Walk in the Woods is also among my favorites. I even used it as a source for a paper in an Ethics class which was fun. I think currently though I have to put The Last Season at the top of my list. A page turning, edge of your seat, real life mystery, and also a sobering reminder that not matter how experienced you are and how well prepared you are, sometimes things happen that are out of your control.

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I'd have to agree about including 'Into the Wild' which I also really enjoyed reading. I haven't come across 'The Last Season' though - I'll have to look that one up in my bookstore. Glad for the suggestions here.

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The author is Eric Blehm just for reference. And I think my next book will be The Mad Trapper of Rat River. I came across it at Duluth Pack this afternoon and it looks to be a fascinating tale of true crime in the Canadian wilderness.

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I too enjoyed A Walk in the Woods. Liked the book better than movie but it was okay. Also like Krakauer. Into the Wild was both a good book and movie.

One of my favorites that I've reread is Listening for Coyote by William Sullivan. A great book with humor and adventure as the author explores (solo) a backpacking route across Oregon in 1985. 

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All time favorite is Mountaineering in the Sierra Nevada by Clarence King,  Not only because he is a superb writer, but because he also gives a great historical perspective, as well as having amazing adventures.  And the people he meets are truly memorable...this all happened during the first survey of the Sierra--headed by a certain Mr. Whitney.  King meets gold miners, desperadoes, amorous pig farmers, and a whole host of wild and wooly characters. 

Another one is Mark Twain's Roughing It.  There is something quite wonderful about a world class writer capturing his experiences in the Wild West. 

And of Colin Fletcher's book, we'd pick the Man Who Walked Through Time as our favorite.

Also really liked Hugh Thompson's books on the Andes.  We started with The White Rock, which is the story of his first dig in Peru--quite near Machu Picchu.  But even better is his A Sacred Landscape--the story of the key archeological sites throughout Peru, and the cultures who made them and the people who discovered them.   That may sound a bit dry, but Hugh Thompson manages to tell a great story, include moments of lovely dry humor, and weave it all into something that is as readable as a good novel as he travels from site to site.  This isn't just one of our favorite books about Peru---it's one of the best books we've read in the last few years! 

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I too like Colin Fletcher. Robert Wehrman has written a biography of Colin and I've read a draft of it. He was a very eccentric and interesting guy. Hopefully the book will published soon.

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8 hours ago, balzaccom said:

All time favorite is Mountaineering in the Sierra Nevada by Clarence King

Interesting. I've read that King's writings were self-promoting bs. I imagine him standing at the foot of Tyndall's north rib, looking at the obviously taller gnarled massif of Williamson to his left, and deciding not to tell anyone about it. I'll have to see if I can find this in the library.

I've enjoyed reading stories about climbing in the Himalaya. I have no interest in trying it myself but have done enough guided climbs of Rainier to think I understand what they are talking about. A couple of my favorites were:

"Dark Summit: The True Story of Everest's Most Controversial Season" - I liked the historical section and the good description of the obsession that drives some to their deaths.

"K2: Life and Death on the World's Most Dangerous Mountain" - Well-researched stories, and Ed Viesturs' personal commentary is engaging.

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1 hour ago, toejam said:

Interesting. I've read that King's writings were self-promoting bs. I imagine him standing at the foot of Tyndall's north rib, looking at the obviously taller gnarled massif of Williamson to his left, and deciding not to tell anyone about it. I'll have to see if I can find this in the library.

I've enjoyed reading stories about climbing in the Himalaya. I have no interest in trying it myself but have done enough guided climbs of Rainier to think I understand what they are talking about. A couple of my favorites were:

"Dark Summit: The True Story of Everest's Most Controversial Season" - I liked the historical section and the good description of the obsession that drives some to their deaths.

"K2: Life and Death on the World's Most Dangerous Mountain" - Well-researched stories, and Ed Viesturs' personal commentary is engaging.

Ha!  Well, I think most of these books are self-promoting in one way or another.  As you read King, it's possible to conclude that they thought the highest peak in the Sierra was Brewer, who was in charge of the survey in the field.  So they named the highest peak after the highest ranking person on the survey.  Only later did they find out that Whitney was taller...even though Whitney himself spent most of his time in SF, managing the funds and logistics for the whole campaign.   When they figured it out, they were happy to find that they had a taller mountain to name for the head of the survey---or that the name of the head of the survey was still available once they figured out which peak was tallest.

What they did, with hobnail boots and a lariat borrowed from a muleteer as a climbing rope, is pretty darn amazing.  And the adventures with the people are equally amazing and funny---this was all written originally as a series of article for the Atlantic magazine...

Still, it's a great read.  And don't forget that Hoffman was also on that trip.  He fell in love with a lovely young lady in Oakland whose first name was May.  And well before those two get married, he managed to name Mt. Hoffman and the lovely lake tucked into its side in Yosemite:  May Lake.  Nice story. 

I  liked K2 as well. 

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The most recent outdoor books I've read are -

Wild by Cheryl Strayed - I thought it was a pretty good book.  She wrote about her struggles with her mother's death, and her experiences on the trail.  Sure, she was naive but I don't think they had as much information at that time about backpacking as they do now.

A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson - that was humorous story with some interesting facts about the Appalachian Trail inserted into the storyline.  I enjoyed reading it. 

127 hours by Aaron Ralston - I have to say it took me over two years to read it, but only because I knew what was coming and I didn't really want to read all the gory details of how he had to amputate his own arm.

Becoming Odyssa by Jennifer Pharr.  I enjoyed this book about a newly graduated college student who decided to hike the AT.  She had a lot of good detail in her book, and some funny experiences along the way.

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Some good suggestions there; I'll have to get my hands on J. Pharr's book + the one by B.Bryson which I've heard is really good.

Thanks for this, HJ

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