Here are a few additional useful books for researching and planning outdoor adventures.
Several readers asked for a Yosemite hiking guide recommendation. There is almost an endless list of Yosemite guides and just about every one will provide adequate information to pick a route from the over 800 miles of trails through the park.
My personal favorite, however, is Jeffrey P. Schaffer's Yosemite National Park: A Complete Hiker's Guide. Schaffer's book goes above and beyond typical guidebooks. If you think you know every trail in the park, you'll probably find some interesting and challenging off-trail routes that you've never tried. A large fold-out map of the park is a bonus included with the book ($20 from Wilderness Press).
Another Yosemite recommendation is Allen F. Glazner and Greg M. Stock's Geology Underfoot in Yosemite National Park ($20, Mountain Press). Nearly 300 pages of text and full-color photos explain the park's geologic history in terms that just about anyone can understand. For a taste of what this book contains, check out the "Rock Fall" video featuring Greg Stock on the Yosemite website. Go to www.nps.gov/yose/photos
multimedia/ynn.htm and scroll down the page until you find "Episode 10 — Rock Fall." In less than 10 minutes you'll learn a lot about how Yosemite Valley's steep walls are constantly changing.
Released this year, the new edition of David T. Page's Yosemite and the Southern Sierra Nevada ($21.95, Countryman Press) is quickly becoming a favorite. This is the book to get if you want to learn more about an area of the Sierra that you've never visited. It covers lodging, food, weather, transportation, climate — all the basics you'd expect in a guidebook. What sets it apart from other books is the detail with which it covers the activities, annual events and history of each region. In addition to well-known areas like Mammoth Lakes and Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks, it also features lesser known areas such as Sherman Pass at the southern end of the Sierra Nevada. It also covers Death Valley. Books with this degree of comprehensiveness are hard to find.
When I was in college I remember looking at Sherman Pass on a map, noting it's high elevation (9,200 feet) and wondering why I couldn't find much information about it in any of the books I had or on the Internet. Finally I just set out to drive over it and see what I could see.
If Page's guide had been in print at the time, I would have been much better prepared.
If you are more interested in exploring on four wheels, the Backcountry Adventures series by Peter Massey and Jeanne Wilson has provided endless interesting backroad travel for me since I first bought copies of both Backcountry Adventures: Northern California and Backcountry Adventures: Southern California in 2003 (each $39.95, Swagman Press).
Ranging from dirt roads that are maintained for travel by any vehicle to routes that are challenging for experienced 4-wheel enthusiasts, these two volumes cover routes throughout remote areas of our state. The average route featured in the book requires high-clearance (most trucks and SUVs), but doesn't necessarily require 4WD.
The only downside is that conditions have changed since then.
Hopefully, updated editions will be published soon. Until then, I recommend them with one caveat — once you find a drive that looks interesting and is rated to fit the capabilities of your vehicle, call the agency that manages the area where it is located and make sure that conditions haven't changed.
Adam Blauert is an avid outdoorsman and local historian who enjoys fishing, backpacking and exploring the Western states. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.