Sherrod Library’s Outdoor Book Recommendations

Half a century ago a rag-tag group of innovators was building a foundation for modern American rock climbing from a makeshift home base in Yosemite. Photographer Glen Denny was a key figure in this golden age of climbing, capturing pioneering feats on camera while tackling challenging ascents himself.  In entertaining short pieces enlivened by his iconic black-and-white images of Yosemite’s big wall legends, Denny reveals a young man’s coming of age and provides a vivid look at Yosemite’s early climbing culture. He relates such precarious achievements as hauling water in glass gallon jugs up the east face of Washington Column, nailing the 750-foot Rostrum in a punishing heat wave, and dangling overnight on El Capitan’s Dihedral Wall in a lightning storm. Each true tale captures the spirit of historic Camp 4, where Denny and others plan the next big climb while living on the cheap and dodging park rangers.

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Who are the real campers? Through-hiking backpackers traversing the Appalachian Trail? The family in an SUV making a tour of national parks and sleeping in tents at campgrounds? People committed to the RV lifestyle who move their homes from state to state as season and whim dictate? Terence Young would say: all of the above. Camping is one of the country’s most popular pastimes—tens of millions of Americans go camping every year. Whether on foot, on horseback, or in RVs, campers have been enjoying themselves for well more than a century, during which time camping’s appeal has shifted and evolved. In Heading Out, Young takes readers into nature and explores with them the history of camping in the United States.  Young shows how camping progressed from an impulse among city-dwellers to seek temporary retreat from their exhausting everyday surroundings to a form of recreation so popular that an industry grew up around it to provide an endless supply of ever-lighter and more convenient gear. Young humanizes camping’s history by spotlighting key figures in its development and a sampling of the campers and the variety of their excursions. Readers will meet William H. H. Murray, who launched a craze for camping in 1869; Mary Bedell, who car camped around America for 12,000 miles in 1922; William Trent Jr., who struggled to end racial segregation in national park campgrounds before World War II; and Carolyn Patterson, who worked with the U.S. Department of State in the 1960s and 1970s to introduce foreign service personnel to the ‘real’ America through trailer camping. These and many additional characters give readers a reason to don a headlamp, pull up a chair beside the campfire, and discover the invigorating and refreshing history of sleeping under the stars.

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A guide so thorough it will send you packing… Backpacking remains one of the most popular, and inexpensive, outdoor activities in America. The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Backpacking and Hiking helps anyone prepare and plan for a rewarding adventure. Covers planning, training, shopping and packing for the trip. -How to live on the trail -First aid and other safety tips -Practical time- and money-saving hints -What gear is necessary and what isn’t -Special considerations when travelling with groups or pets.

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Taking what he calls a nature-centered worldview author Robert Stebbins blends activities, examples, and stories with his perspectives on the importance of dealing objectively yet compassionately with social and environmental problems. Even a quick glance through Connecting With Nature will make you wish you could give your students the joy of a day in the hills with the author. Failing that, you can use his book to instill a love of nature in your students and rekindle it in yourself.

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Biking from Oregon to Maine is no small feat, especially for two newly retired women who carry everything they need for three months, powered only by the strength of their legs and a desire for adventure. Alice Honeywell and Bobbi Montgomery invite readers to follow their ride by bicycle across the United States, as they face scorching sun, driving rain, buffeting winds, equipment failures, killer hills, wildfires, and even a plague of grasshoppers. As Alice and Bobbi pedal along their 3,600-mile journey, they test and deepen their friendship, defy their aches and pains, experience the vast and varied beauties of their country, and discover the challenges and satisfaction of a scaled-down lifestyle.

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