Thursday, June 30, 2011

Outdoor books of days gone by

Regional outdoor books of the past
Books about hiking, biking and paddling in the New Orleans area that are no longer in print can be interesting reads. Not only to they serve as markers of the past to show how far we have come (or not) in having public places to enjoy outdoor recreation, they can also provide some valuable background about the places we go now. Here is a selection of what may or may not be out there if you look hard enough. Some are in local libraries in their "Louisiana" collections and every once and a while old copies may show up at used book sales and in used book shops.
The New Orleans Bicycle Book, Louis Alvarez, Little Nemo Press, 1984. More than 50 bike rides, most of them only a few miles explore the neighborhoods of New Orleans, Jefferson Parish, the West Bank and the North Shore. Each chapter starts with a description of a neighborhood's history and noteworthy sites along the ride. Maps are very good; routes are drawn over USGS topographic maps. And there are turn by turn written directions. Long out of print, Alvarez's book is the holy grail of used where-to-bicycle- book finds. Nicely produced and written, copies can be found on the Internet for up to $100, but you might still be able to find one at a book sale for a fraction of that. Or find a friend that has one and borrow theirs.
Trail Guide to the Delta Country, John P. Sevenair, editor, New Orleans Group of the Sierra Club, 1997. Useful but badly in need of updating this collection of more than 70 canoeing, biking and hiking outings began more than 30 years ago as a collection of photo-copied hand drawn maps to share what a once potent local Sierra Club was learning about the plentiful outdoor options here. The last edition (to date) published in 1997 is a bonifide trail guide with accurate and well drawn maps and trail descriptions written by people who have been there. Before setting out on any of the trips be sure to up-date with the latest information from web sites and telephone calls. A lot can happen in 14 years, even to a river or a trail.
Canoe Trails of the Deep South, Chuck Estes, Elizabeth F. Carter and Byron Almquist, Menasha Ridge Press, 1991. Like the Sierra Club book, this one contains a wide variety of canoeing experiences from well known summer destinations to remote swamp treks you need a guide, GPS or both to return from. Louisiana and Mississippi are represented by 32 trips, Alabama has 18. Excellent descriptions of streamside flora and geology: the maps are a little hard to follow. Take the same caution as you would with any information that is 20 years old; verify, verify, verify.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hi. I am Liz Carter (Eizabeth F.) and I read with great interest your comments about Canoe Trails of the Deep South.Last spring I had the pleasure of getting together with Chuck Estes after 25 years. We are both still paddling (I live in NC, he lives in TN)and I am still writing recreational guidebooks. "Canoe Trails" was a fun project and there has been a renewed interest in it recently. It is out-of-print and the copyright on the material has reverted to the authors. Thank you for your comments.