Summer Book Reviews 2011

Backpacking Washington

Overnight and Multi-Day Trips

By Craig Romano

Paperback, 288 pages

The Mountaineers Books, $18.95

You don’t need to go tromping about Nepal or Peru, wildness is here in our own backyard, maintains Craig Romano, who has just released Backpacking Washington, Overnight and Multi-Day Trips. It took Romano, who doubles as the Outdoors NW Trails Editor, two years and 1,500 miles to compile this Washington backpacking masterpiece. It’s his ninth guidebook.

The book details 70 destinations – each ranging between 14-45 miles and separates the hikes into various geographic regions: North, South and Central Cascades, Eastern Washington, Mount Rainier, Snoqualmie and the Olympic Peninsula. In addition to the standard categories designating distance, difficulty, type and elevation gain, true to his nature Romano has gone one step further adding designations in regard to best time of year, permits, kids, dogs, solitude, wild flowers, car camping, campfires and old growth. He also lists the best maps to use for each hike and features a trail map for each route.

Romano has done it again. And backpackers everywhere will thank him.

Hell on Two Wheels

An Astonishing Story of Suffering, Triumph, and the Most Extreme Endurance Race in the World

By Amy Snyder

Triumph Books, 198 pages


One winner of the Race Across America, who had also climbed the world’s highest peak, had this to say about RAAM, “Everest is more dangerous but RAAM is harder.” And so it goes with the world’s longest endurance bicycle race which stretches 9,000 miles coast to coast in about nine days. In Hell on Two Wheels, author Amy Snyder follows a group of athletes before, during and after the 2009 race. Most racers manage a few hours of sleep a night during the course of the race and many often end up hallucinating for hours. It’s a maximum test of the mind and body and Snyder is relentless in her accounting of the race and the faces in the race.


The Camping Cookbook

By Annie Bell

Paperback, 176 pages

Kyle Books, $16.95


If you’re headed for the woods but weary of yet another dehydrated dinner, get your hands on this gourmet cookbook for campers. Packed with colorful photos, the recipes are organized into sections: Cowboy Brunch, Picnic Delights, The Grill, and more, as well as a section on homemade glazes and spice blends. The product of a longtime food writer, this camper-meets-foodie’s bible is a feast for your eyes, and an inspiration for your inner chef.

Northwest Foraging

By Doug Benoliel; Illustrations by Mark Orsen

Paperback, 220 pages

Skipstone, $16.95


Originally published in 1974, this field guide to edible plants in the Pacific Northwest was revised and updated for this 2011 republication. It features not only practical information on edible plants and their habitats, but also illustrations, nutritional charts, and a section on poisonous plants and how to avoid confusing them with edibles. Tantalizing recipes are also sprinkled throughout, including ones for huckleberry-apple jam, chickweed soup, and rose hip tea. Infused with botanist Benoneil’s passion for plants, this guide is an indispensible resource for foragers, novice and experienced alike.

Skywalker: Highs and Lows on the Pacific Crest Trail

By Bill Walker

Paperback, 238 pages

Self-published, $9.95


After conquering the Appalachian Trail, Bill Walker – “Skywalker,” by his trail name – set his sights on its western sister, the Pacific Crest Trail. Stretching 2,663 miles from Mexico to Canada, the PCT and its extremes in terrain and climate prove an impressive stage for Skywalker to test his limits. His down-to-Earth memoir of the emotional roller coaster of his journey and the oddball characters he encounters along the way will have you enthralled, inspired, and at the very least, laughing hard.

The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Swimming

By Mike Bottom and Nathan Jendrick

Paperback, 280 pages

Alpha Books, $16.95


As with many of the “Complete Idiot” guides, this is a comprehensive guide written for beginners, but chockfull of advice applicable to competitors at any level. Chapters cover the basics of swimming, including gear, pool etiquette, basic strokes, conditioning, fueling, advanced techniques, and more. With fun extras like the “Sink or Swim” sidebar to warn you of common mistakes and “The Pros Know” to offer tips from professional and Olympic athletes, this book’s tips will both inform and inspire.

Fit by Nature: The Adventx 12-Week Outdoor Fitness Program

By John Colver with M. Nicole Nazzaro

Paperback, 271 pages

The Mountaineers Books, $24.95


More and more, athletes are leaving the gym and taking their workouts outside. John Colver helped pioneer the exodus in 2003 by founding Seattle-based fitness company adventX. This guide lays out a 12-week customizable plan to get fit on local trails, in parks, or even in your own backyard. His advice covers seasonal concerns, injury prevention, stretching, and calisthenics that can be performed anywhere. Colorful pages and photos are a bonus.

Breathe Strong, Perform Better

By Alison McConnell

Paperback, 274 pages

Human Kinetics, $19.95


The discussion of how best to develop an extra edge in competition has been a longstanding one among athletes everywhere, amateur and elite alike. Breathing is an obvious building block of any athletic activity, yet an oft overlooked one when it comes to fine-tuning performance. This book examines the mechanics of breathing, strategies for training yourself to breathe more effectively during exertion, and sport-specific advice and training plans to develop your edge.