Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Summer reading:2011

Summer Reading
Many adventurers in the frozen north (anything above the Mason Dixon Line) claim the cold of their winters and the heat of a New Orleans summer have the same effect: you just don't want to go outside.
So if the heat and humidity have you under house arrest, take the down time to catch up on some reading to help plan for future trips when the weather is more agreeable for an outside adventure.
50 Hikes in Louisiana by Janina Baxley,( The Countryman Press, 2003). A complete guide to hiking the trails of the Bayou State. Includes the well known such as the 26.2 mile Azalea Trail near Alexandria to the not often hiked shorter trails such as the three-mile Boy Scout Road trail in Big Branch March NWR. Each trail gets a details treatment including a map (USGS topographic maps are the base) and full description. All you need.
And that's true for Hiking Mississipp-A Guide to Trails and Natural Areas, by Helen McGinnis, (University Press of Mississippi, 1994) Another complete guide that even veteran hikers will be surprised at how many trail there are in the Magnolia State they never heard of. (Who knew there was a waterfall, with a claim to being the birthplace of the mint julep, in the Vicksburg National Military Park and Cemetary?).
For those who like wetter adventure there are two books by Ernest Herndon, Canoeing Louisiana and Canoeing Mississippi, (University Press of Mississippi). Herndon, a writer for the Enterprise- Journal in McComb, writes both as a story teller and veteran paddler. Featured in both book is the social history of the people just beyond the banks of the streams and bayous and rivers that cut across these two rural states. This rich writing style, with a faint nod to Mark Twain, makes these two books satisfying reading no matter if your are a paddler or not. Fishing where he paddles gets special attention. On the other hand practical information about launches, water levels and the business of getting a canoe in the water and getting it out at the end of a trip for the drive home, is kept to a minimum, leaving those who really, really like to plan, wanting.
All four were written before hurricane Katrina in 2005 so before heading out, make a few phone calls and visit a few web sites to check for changes in access, hours of operation, fees or even if a location is even open any more.

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