Review: Curious Gorge by Scott Cook

Curious Gorge
by Scott Cook
Rating: ****
Date read 9/5/2013

Very well-done hiking guide book. I love the chatty tone, the inside information. I’ve gone on several hikes in this book, and am glad I did. Though I do need to say that Cook’s idea of a moderate hike is a 50-year-old-woman’s idea of a strenuous hike! Loose gravel and near-vertical ascents get tagged “moderate” and, well, let’s just say I was surprised.

Review: Walking Portland by Becky Ohlsen

Walking Portland
by Becky Ohlsen
Rating: ****
Date read: 9/2/2013

This is a wonderful Portland guidebook! I loved it and I want to hurry over to Powell’s and buy it so I can keep it in the car. I’ve lived here for 20 years, and I found several walks in places I never knew were there. So far I’ve had a chance to take 3 or 4 of them from the book, and they live up to their promise. Highly recommended for residents or tourists.

Review: A bunch of Portland OR specific hiking books

Hiking Mount Hood National Forest
by Marcia Sinclair
Rating: **
Read 8/12/2013

This says, on the cover, “31 scenic hikes” so I can perhaps be forgiven for thinking I was picking up a guidebook. With maybe some maps or trail descriptions? Not so much, though the essays about the hikes were interesting enough, and Sinclair does refer one to the proper maps for each trail. Still, had I wanted essays, I wouldn’t have been shopping in the guidebook section.

Portland Forest Hikes: Twenty Close-In Wilderness Walks
by James Thayer
Rating: *
Read 8/12/2013

I didn’t find the maps herein very useful. More than half of the hikes in this book are in Forest Park and there are lots of very good Forest Park maps and guides. This isn’t one of them.

Portland Hill Walks: Twenty Explorations in Parks and Neighborhoods
by Laura O. Foster
Rating: ***
Read 8/12/2013

I liked this guidebook enough to make a note to come back to it, but not enough to carry it around on an actual walk. It’s really HEAVY, printed on high-quality, glossy paper. I like Foster’s writing style a lot, but the book I’m actually going to buy and carry around with me is her The Portland Stairs Book, a much lighter, smaller book with similar walks in it.

Portland City Walks: Twenty Explorations in and Around Town
by Laura O. Foster
Rating: ****
Read 8/12/2013

Again, I liked this very well except why must it be so heavy? Foster knows everything about Portland, and is eager to share it with you, which is terrific. Her walks are nicely planned, and just random enough to keep you on your toes. It’s a book I’d like to have in my library but not one for the backpack.


Review: One Night Wilderness: Portland by Doug Lorain

One Night Wilderness: Portland: Quick and Convenient Backcountry Getaways within Three Hours of the City
by Doug Lorain
Rating: ***
Read 8/6/2013

I found several hikes in this book that I didn’t know about before, and that I am eager to try out. The maps/trail descriptions are nice and clear, and the book gives a person lots of fun options. A short introduction covers the essentials of backpacking, but steers you toward more thorough resources before advising you to go out into the wilds.

Review: Oregon’s Wilderness Areas: The Complete Guide by George Wuerthner

Oregon’s Wilderness Areas: The Complete Guide
by George Wuerthner
Rating: ***
Read 8/1/2013

Lovely photos, lots of good information. But Oregon’s wilderness is huge, and the scope of this book such that I didn’t get the exhaustive information I wanted. I wanted way more detail than I got here. To be fair, there are lots of books on smaller areas- and this book certainly helped me narrow my focus and track down the books that will help me.

Review: Columbia River Gorge by Marty Sherman

Columbia River Gorge
by Marty Sherman
Rating ***
Read 7/30/2013

This is a heartbreaking look at what the Columbia River Gorge used to be. Rife with editing errors that don’t matter a bit, compared with the photographs of what used to be. For me, the most telling caption (on an overhead photo of the Bonneville Dam) “The stuff that nations are made of- development and progress. It invariably means the death of a river.”

Lots of photos of Celilo Falls that was, pictures of the mighty Columbia when she was mighty indeed.

Probably of interest to historians and Oregonians only.

Review: The Willamette River Field Guide by Travis Williams

The Willamette River Field Guide
by Travis Williams
Rating ***
Read 7/26/2013

While this book was good, it wasn’t exactly what I was looking for. It had a lot of conservation/ecology stuff in it, and though I’m a die-hard conservation/ecology proponent, I don’t need it in a field guide. Yes, I know we suck at rivers. We have always sucked at rivers, and even though we are trying to be better, we STILL suck at rivers. Got it. I liked the little wildlife call-outs, and the pictures were lovely. But as a field guide qua field guide, this left me wanting more, more about where to camp and where to pull out, more about where the private property starts and ends and less about how chemical runoff from agriculture threatens wildlife.

Review: Wild: From Lost To Found on the Pacific Crest Trail by Cheryl Strayed

by Cheryl Strayed
Rating ****
Read 7/25/2013

This book made me want to run right out and hike the PCT. But not, you know, barefoot. Or broke. I was very involved throughout, and though much of the non-trail stuff made me cringe, the on-trail stuff kept me reading. I’m glad I read it, because it made me think that if she did okay on the trail, as woefully unprepared as she so clearly was, maybe I can do okay on it too.

Review: Out Here by Ursula K. Le Guin and Roger Dorband

Out Here: Poems and Images from Steens Mountain Country
Poems and Drawings by Ursula K. Le Guin
Photography by Roger Dorband
Rating: ****
Read 5/13/2013

I’ve been dipping into a fair bit of poetry lately, mostly revisiting favorites here and there, but rarely reading a books straight through. This book is the exception. I went last year to see Le Guin and Dorband at Powell’s books when this first came out, and Le Guin read several of the poems, which were stellar. Her poetry has resonated only intermittently with me throughout the years, and this collection works better for me than the ones which have come before. Or perhaps I’m older now. With Le Guin, it’s always safer to assume that the fault lies with the self rather than the writing.

Dorband’s photos are lovely. I would that the book were much larger format so I might examine them more minutely. I can’t wait to go to see this country with my own eyes.

Here’s my favorite poem from the book:


The hawk
I see you but I do not notice you,
a little dusky scurrying of fur.
I ply a hard trade, and I take my due.

The vole
To me you are a shadow from the blue,
and I am gone before you can appear.
I see it, but I do not notice you.

The hawk
I see my shadow flying as I do
but on the ground; sky is my kingdom, where
I soar and only stoop to take my due.

The vole
Rich with the gathered grain, I tunnel through
a darkness kinder than the light by far,
those shadows where there is no trace of you.

The hawk
Owl owns the shadows, for I never flew
but in the shining of the sunlit air.
I live by light and blood, and pay my due:
I am your death. It will be quick and true.

The vole
I am your life, and your immortal share.

We are and shape each other, I and you.
We ply a hard trade, and we take our due.

-Ursula K. Le Guin