"Backpacking Nevada: From Slickrock to Granite Summits," by Mike White (Wilderness Press, 230 pages, $17.95)
When I lived in the foothills of the Sierra's western slope, my co-workers would kind of chuckle when I told them I was heading for the backcountry of Nevada for the weekend. After all, everyone knows the entire state is just a desert wasteland, right?
Just ask Mike White, author of the excellent "Backpacking Nevada."
He opens the book with a discussion of trails in each of the major Nevada mountain ranges (did you know that our state has the most peaks over 10,000 feet?). He proceeds to a guide to horse-packing and a quick-reference listing of what is the best month in which to take each hike, rating them by scenery, solitude factor, difficulty, duration, miles hiked or required for a shuttle and elevation gain.
The book ends with an excellent bibliography of books about hiking in and the natural history of Nevada.
Individual hikes, divided by range, begin with a clearly drawn general map, plus which U.S. Geological Survey topographical maps to buy and how to contact nearby agencies for permits. "Special attractions" are followed by "Problems" - a balance any serious hiker will appreciate.
Clear directions to the trailhead and a detailed description of the trail follow. He ends each hike with a possible itinerary in which to complete the backpack trip.
Anybody can write a dry, "turn left, turn right" hiking guide. But White's descriptions of the region's beauty makes this work stand out: "Superb views are nearly constant companions, and a scenic calendar could easily be compiled from the photo opportunities along this trail," or "A large green meadow at the west end (of the lake) adds a pastoral ambience to the views down the canyon, which are especially fine around sunset."
White ends his introduction with the best reason to buy this book: "Wherever you decide to visit, may the majesty of Nevada's backcountry fulfill your wildest dreams."
n Pat Devereux is the Nevada Appeal's copy desk chief and a passionate hiker.