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Old 01-26-2012, 09:40 AM   #1
Dick
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The Catskill 67: A Hiker’s Guide to the Catskill 100 Highest Peaks under 3500’




For those forum members who hike in the Catskills, or for those who have been thinking about doing so, there is a new guidebook in town. Forum member Alan Via’s book, The Catskill 67: A Hiker’s Guide to the Catskill 100 Highest Peaks under 3500’, has finally been published. Alan asked me if I would write a review for the forum and I agreed. Let me be upfront: Alan and I are friends and frequent hiking companions, so a certain bias may be inevitable.

My first thought in writing this was to ask myself what I would like to see in a guidebook. At a minimum, I believe the author should have a strong first-hand knowledge of the subject, and the book should be clearly written and accurately researched. Is the book easy to navigate? Is there an easily searchable index? Ideally there will be a map and some photos and descriptions of the area. I believe this book passes muster on all counts, and then some.

Much goes on “behind the scenes” before a book goes into print. Alan goes to great lengths to credit the many people who assisted and influenced him. In the section titled “Why This Book?” he points out that the book builds on the 3500’ peaks by offering a new set of mountains and geographical areas to hike which go unseen by many. Standard information one might expect to find is offered (GPS, mileage, elevation, trail and peak descriptions, etc.). Alan also writes about the flora and fauna, view spots, photo ops, some history, and possible activities in the area other than hiking such as canoeing, fishing, biking, and camping. However, many of “the 67” are either in part or entirely on private land. In the section titled “Respect for the Mountains, Their Stewards, and Private Property” Alan tackles this sensitive topic head-on, encouraging the hiker to “do your homework” by seeking permission before walking on someone else’s land, respecting the land when walked on, and avoiding such practices as route marking. It should be noted that summits, trails and paths are not indicated for any peak that is on private land. All of these issues are broached throughout the book when necessary, not merely in an introductory chapter.

The Catskill 100 Peak List includes a numerical ranking both within the list of all 102 peaks and the 67 by themselves, with elevation. It is coded to indicate whether the peak has rough roads, ski areas, whether the peak is trailed, has an un-maintained trail, or if it is a bushwhack. In the Section titled “Before You Begin” Alan offers tips on GPS coordinates, hunting season hiking, and bushwhacking.

The principal body of the book divides the hikes into nine geographical regions. A map precedes each section. These full-page topo maps are in color and indicate whether peaks are over or under 3500 feet. The map is laid out with 100-foot contour lines, and includes cities/towns, road/trail/water body names, state/county/local/DEC Maintained roads, trail colors, scenic trails, county lines, trail access parking areas when appropriate, scenic views, cemeteries, fire towers, and whether the area is open to fishing, biking, paddling, swimming, cross-country skiing, camping, or picnicking. There is also a “Mapfinder” in the back pocket of the book. Descriptions for each peak include a “schematic” map showing the relationship of each region to the greater Catskill Park.

The book offers a concise but thorough overview of each geographical area, as well as highlights and a summary of each of the peaks. Each peaks is also given a score of 1 through 5 for view, interest, hiking difficulty, and difficulty of bushwhack. Admittedly these ratings are subjective, but they are a good relative comparison of the peaks.

Throughout the book Alan’s writing style is clear, concise, and down-to-earth. Far from being a mere objective presentation of facts, one gets the feeling that an experienced guide is talking to you. Those who have hiked with Alan know of his wry sense of humor, which shines through his writing and personalizes it nicely. Many photos are sprinkled throughout the book and are all in color. These photos were taken by several of Alan’s hiking companions.

There are three appendices to the book. In the first, titled “Bushwhacking Basics,” Alan is careful to point out that this is not a “how-to” book. Nevertheless, helpful important tips are offered. The second appendix, “A Subjective Look at the Peaks,” offers a short list of the “most, least, best, and scrappiest” peaks. The third appendix is titled “Tandem Peaks” and suggests possible “two-fers” and even a couple of “three-fers” for hikers.

A “Glossary” of terms is included. Many of these entries are not mere one-sentence definitions, but offer valuable paragraphs of information. The “References and “Suggested Reading” section includes books, maps, and websites, all of which are annotated. Finally, and perhaps most important, there is a thorough index in which many terms, persons, and peaks may be easily referenced throughout the book.

In summary, The Catskill 67: A Hiker’s Guide to the Catskill 100 Highest Peaks under 3500’ is a welcomed addition to the array of guidebooks available today and deserves a place on the bookshelf of anyone who is interested in exploring the Catskills.
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Old 01-27-2012, 12:37 PM   #2
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I forgot to post purchasing info for the book. It can be purchased through ADK here (member discount):
http://adk.org/portals/ADKBooksMapsG...3/Default.aspx
A phone call to ADK will also work at this time, until the books go out to book and outdoor stores (within a couple of weeks).

Also, for anyone who is a member of the NYNJ Trail Conference, they will soon be available through them as well.

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Old 02-08-2012, 06:04 AM   #3
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While I'm quite certain that I'll never hit even half of the 67 I will pick up a copy of the book.Now that I live closer to the Catskills I plan to visit them more often. Thanks for the info Dick!
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Old 02-08-2012, 04:40 PM   #4
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For anyone who might be going to the gathering and traveling the Northway in the Lake George area, the book is available at the ADK Headquarters in Lake George, just off the Lake Luzerne exit.

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