Category Archives: Recommended reading

This weekend: Water, water (and some wind) everywhere

Too wet to be a dirtbag this weekend? Then live the life virtually.
Too wet to be a dirtbag this weekend? Then live the life virtually.

We may skirt a full-fledged hurricane this weekend, but it will be wet and blustery. What does that mean for your weekend adventuring?
It means you should try it vicariously, at least if you live at the coast or in the central Piedmont. With wind and rain now forecast, at least periodically, through mid-day Sunday, what could be better than encamping on the couch with a good adventure, either in video or book form? read more

The motivation to soar


There are many reasons why Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s “Wind, Sand and Stars” ranks No. 3 on National Geographic’s “The 100 Greatest Adventure Books of All Time,” and comes in No. 1 on Outside magazine’s “25 Essential Books for the Well-Read Explorer.” Saint-Exupéry’s piloting skills in the early days of aviation, flying from France to North Africa to deliver the mail when maps were sketchy and the likes of electronic navigation non-existent, are exceeded only by his gift for conveying what he and his comrades endured.
Think you’ve had a great adventure? Ever had your engine conk out flying over the Pyrenees or landed in hostile country where the locals had killed two pilots a year before? “Wind, Sand and Stars” is filled with such adventures, adventures that would forever ground the vast majority of us. For Saint-Exupéry and his peers it was just another day at the office.
It’s the motivation of Saint-Exupéry and his kind that fascinates us. Early in “Wind”, he offers a glimpse that most of us can relate to, an explanation of why the risk was worthwhile. It comes as he rides an early morning shuttle to the airport with the office clerks and other desk-bound workers who know all too well the outcome of their workday — and the rest of their lives. read more

Sylvan Sleuths Explore, Explain Southern Forests

Steph Jeffries, standing center, and Tom Wentworth, standing right, tag-team the launch of their new "Exploring Southern Appalachian Forests."

A few years back I was nearing the top of the Mount Mitchell Trail when I came across a group of youngsters intently examining the balsam firs that begin appearing above 5,500 feet. As they probed about, an older fellow explained what they were seeing. The gentleman had a professorial look; not surprising, I soon discovered, considering these were forestry students from N.C. State. I lurked in the shadows and got a free education on the challenges of life above 6,000 feet in a Southern Appalachian forest.
Sure be great if you didn’t have to go to school to get this kind of education, I thought.
Last night, I discovered, you don’t.
Before a packed house Tuesday evening at Quail Ridge Books & Music in Raleigh, Steph Jeffries and Thomas Wentworth discussed their just-released guide, “Exploring Southern Appalachian Forests: An Ecological Guide to 30 Great Hikes in the Carolinas, Georgia, Tennessee, and Virginia” (UNC Press). It’s a scientific look at the forest written for a lay audience.
Jeffries and Wentworth are uniquely qualified to write “Exploring Southern Appalachian Forests.” As N.C. State professors — she in the Department of Forestry, he in Plant and Microbial Biology — they’ve been exploring these woods for years. On one outing with students several years ago, Jeffries yelled to Wentworth: “We need to write a book about this.”
“Exploring Southern Appalachian Forests” is peppered with insights that can’t help but make a hike all the more enjoyable. A sampling: read more

Iced in? Tuck in with a good read

Before we start, make sure your iPad or preferred electronic reading device is plugged in. When the power goes, you’ll be glad you’ve got a full charge. Go ahead. We’ll wait.

According to the weather prognosticators there’s a good chance we won’t be able to venture out for the next couple days, nor will we have power. To me, that translates to the JetBoil with a full canister of fuel, my headlamp with a fresh threesome of lithium AAAs and my iPad stocked with several hours worth of adventure reading. read more

No time to play? Then read about it

The holidays are upon us: Year-end deadlines. Parties to attend. Gifts to buy.
When are you supposed to find the time to get out and play?
Last week on our Facebook page we shared a link to an Outside Online story on how to squeeze in a workout by condensing it. It covers a variety of pursuits with the theme of short (30 minutes) and intense (heavy on the interval work). I’ve been following it with my running and it’s been surprisingly effective, both physically and mentally.
What about when you don’t even have 30 minutes to spare? Try the next best thing: a little vicarious living.
Below are five stories we’ve read in the past few busy, rainy days that have at least let our psyche have some fun. The articles are good, the sources — Outside Online, and Adventure Journal — offer a springboard to more escapes.
And if you’ve come across a good escapist read that might benefit the rest of us, feel free to pass it along, below. read more