This gentle beginner’s guide offers first steps for safe and satisfying outdoor adventures while covering everything from trailheads to thunder trees.
Retiree Klopovic (Effective Program Practices for At-Risk Youth, 2003) teams up with first-time–author/daughter Nicole—who’s hiked Peru’s Cordillera Blanca mountain range—to present a sensible hiking how-to for out-of-shape baby boomers. This breezy, friendly manual is divided into four main parts: “Preparation” (on deciding where and when to hike), “The Whole Person” (about getting in shape physically and mentally), “Packing Essentials” (regarding, for example, whether “To Tent or Not to Tent”), and “Hitting the Trail.” Although the book is aimed at novices, its seasoned advice isn’t patronizing, which is refreshing in itself. It begins with important safety basics, such as finding out where trailheads (the beginnings of trails) are located in order to avoid getting lost. There’s plenty of hands-on advice, such as the best way to pack a backpack (diagram included), and the book covers familiar camping topics, such as how to hang a “bear bag,” a food container designed to thwart hungry bears, as well as how deep to bury human waste after “visiting the thunder tree.” The book also includes black-and-white photos and memorable anecdotes from a coast-to-coast hike in England, including one about a beer-drinking dog. The simple checklists and charts, such as the “Hiker’s Timeline of Milestones,” are helpful preparation tools, as the Klopovics recommend six months of planning before setting out. The authors are realistic but optimistic, placing emphasis on common-sense exercise and noting that although mature hikers may not sprint up hills like 20-year-olds, they can still gain many mind-and-body benefits from sleeping under the stars. This guide is methodical in its approach but pleasant to read, as it’s sometimes reminiscent of an uplifting life coach: “And keep your eyes on the hiking prize. You will experience life as you never have.” Other times, there’s humor: “Granola may have an adverse effect on the digestive system, and you don’t want to be asked to hike last in line.”
Adults of any age who are curious about hiking and camping may blaze happy trails after reading this energetic book.