The winter months offer us Mainers precious little daylight to enjoy our favorite outdoor activities, but the upside is plenty of long nights that are made for cozying up with a good book. Here are four by Maine authors I trust you’ll enjoy.
“Day Hiking New England” by Jeff Romano (2015, Mountaineers Books, 320 pp., $18.95)
With this excellent guide, Jeff Romano of Hallowell completes a trifecta of New England hiking books. Through colorful descriptions of 115 day hikes, Romano takes readers from southeastern Massachusetts to northern Maine, on easy strolls of several miles to strenuous all-day mountain rambles.
“It was tough picking which hikes to put in,” said Romano. “I wanted to capture a variety of landscapes, with good geographic dispersal that would introduce hikers to different areas.”
Romano’s coverage of Maine trails includes a few less traveled places, like Androscoggin Riverlands State Park, Holbrook Island and Bog Brook Cove. But it’s the bulk of the hikes beyond our state where I find the big value of this guide, made for exploring the trails of our New England neighbors.
“Desperate Steps: Life, Death and Choices Made in the Mountains of the Northeast” by Peter W. Kick (2015, Appalachian Mountain Club Books, 270 pp., $18.95)
A college-aged man sets out on a hiking adventure near his home in the Green Mountains of Vermont on a January day in 2012. “He did not dress for winter conditions, and wore a cotton shirt, jacket and cotton pants,” writes Kick, a Tenants Harbor denizen. And it doesn’t take long from there, with palms sweating and heart pounding, to discover the tragic result.
In all, Kick describes 20 tales of backcountry misadventure and misfortune – from Katahdin and the Whites to Vermont and the Adirondacks – that will get the attention of anyone who ventures beyond the trailhead, winter or summer.
“These high-profile accounts cover a broad geographic scope, and different climatic and topographic conditions,” said Kick. “The stories are heartbreaking but it was a very rewarding investigative project.”
Each story ends with an analysis of what went wrong and how the incident could have been prevented.
“Maine Outdoor Adventure Guide” by John Christie and Josh Christie (2015, Down East Books, 126 pp., $15.95)
The father and son duo of John and Josh Christie have written several hundred “It’s Worth the Trip” columns for these pages, and their new book captures the best of those adventures in an informative guide.
“It astounds me that so many people don’t know how much there is to do here in Maine,” said John Christie. “Nobody’s bucket list is big enough to hold all these things. I know mine isn’t.”
Equally divided between trips on foot, by bike, and a combination, explorations aplenty await adventurers of all interests and abilities, from Deboullie to Damariscotta to Donnell Pond.
“Queen Bee” by Phyllis Austin (2015, Tilbury House Publishers, 378 pp., $24.95)
Award-winning journalist Phyllis Austin of Brunswick toiled for six years to produce this outstanding story about Roxanne Quimby, from her early days in poverty, to the building of Burt’s Bees into a multi-million-dollar personal care products empire, to her steadfast efforts over the last two decades to establish a national park east of Baxter State Park.
The detailed biography tells “a complicated story about a complicated woman,” said Austin, noting that “Roxanne Quimby has the will, money and time to make a national park happen.”
Austin weaves into the story a fascinating history of Maine’s North Woods that sets the stage for the proposed national park, a controversial issue that rages on. Regardless of where one stands on the issue, readers will find “Queen Bee” to be an interesting and enjoyable read.