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My ebooks The Passion Killers, A Dark Wind of Vengeance, Blood Beyond the Abyss and The Second Layer of Hell (apocalyptic fiction) are now available for download. They are the first four installments in the Path of Survival series. To see additional information, click here .

This page will be used for book and video reviews. The book or video should be outdoor related, and non-fiction. If you would like to submit a review, please send it to me as e-mail at

Please state what you did and did not like about the book or video, and include as much of the following as possible: Name of book or video, subject matter, name of author / producer, price, year published and company / location purchased from. The item should be rated according to the scale shown below. Please send the article to me in its completed form so that I can "copy & paste" it here. Your name (cyber ID or real name) should be included; your e-mail address is optional.

Book & Video Ratings

0 - Don't waste your money. Watching / reading this junk constitutes cruel & unusual punishment prohibited by the U.S. Constitution.

1 - It had its moments, but it didn't live up to all my expectations. Might be okay for a rainy day.

2 - Satisfactory; but it's no big deal; barely kept my interest.

3 - Good; I liked it. Generally held my interest from beginning to end. Informative, too. Lived up to my expectations.

4 - Very Good; found it to be very interesting and informative. Exceeded my expectations.

5 - Excellent; I loved it, highly recommended. Definitely worth the money and time.

The Legacy Of Luna (Book) Five Million Steps Video (2) Journey On The Crest (Book)
Beyond Backpacking (Book) Somewhere Along The Way Video Into Thin Air (Book)
How To Shit In The Woods (Book)
Fixing Your Feet (Book)
Where The Waters Divide (Book)

"Fixing Your Feet - Preventive Maintenance & Treatments For Foot Problems Of Runners, Hikers, And Adventure Racers"

By John Vonhof
Submitted by David Crane
Rating: 4

Having done a lot of day and overnight hiking, I thought I knew what I was doing, but four hours into my first "real backpacking trip", I had reached the Tonto Plateau via the Lost Springs and Hermit's Rest Trails about 3000 below the starting point on the South Rim of the Grand Canyon, and I knew my feet and hike were in serious trouble.

Later, I would admit that I was packing too much weight, was trying to go too fast, was wearing the wrong type of footwear, the wrong type and too many socks, and hadn't properly laced up the high-tech lightweight boots I was wearing.

One month later I found this book on the discount shelf at the REI store in Seattle. This was three weeks after the end of my trip and two weeks since I lost the fifth of the blackened toenails that trip cost me. Evidently I am one of those people that have to learn everything the hard way. On the other hand, I didn't have access to this website either!

This book did a lot to help me out. Subsequently, I participated in several ROGAINE (nothing to do with hair loss) Adventure Races. These endurance events also taught me some painful lessons, but the feet held up fairly well due to my use of some foot-taping techniques learned from this book.

The only reason I don't give this book the highest rating is because I don't think it stresses enough the value of reducing the weight of your load. It simply accepts the fact that there will be those who NEED heavy hiking boots since they will be carrying 65 pound packs. Likewise, it accepts the existence of trail runners, adventure racers, ultralight backpackers, and others and addresses the concerns of each without trying to persuade the one to be like the other. This 185 page book deals with the basics of feet and footwear in the first 30 pages, including a four-page section on the selection of properly fitting shoes and boots.

The rest of the book deals with avoiding problems (preventive maintenance), how to address problems once they occur (treatments and cures) and more serious medical conditions and treatments. If you have ever had foot problems or if you currently have foot problems, this book is for you. It is fairly exhaustive in listing products and resources that you won't know exist if your search for treatments is limited to what you find on the shelves of the local drug store or even a superficial search of the Internet. It certainly helped me survive until I learned what socks and footwear worked for me and learned to lighten my load.

Finally, I have to admit that one of the attractions of this book for me was that, till I learned better, an interim resolution of one of my chronic blister problems was the application of duct tape. As a hard-core fan of PBS's Red Green Show and devote of Garrison Kiellor's American Duct Tape Counsel, (not to mention being concerned with "Homeland Security") I am thoroughly convinced that there are few issues of life that can't be improved by a judicial application of that which keep the universe from flying apart - duct tape.

"How To Shit In The Woods"

By Kathleen Meyer
Ten Speed Press, Box 7123, Berkeley, CA 94707

Submitted by David Crane
Rating: 5

Kathleen has done a great job addressing a subject that for some folk is, shall we say, "delicate". Having initiated quite a few folk, including women, to the joys of camping and backpacking, I have found this an invaluable resource. The book is less than 80 pages. It's much easier and comfortable for me to hand someone this book and tell them to read it before the hike than the alternatives.

Fortunately, it is very well-written and enjoyable to read even if you think you know it all. It addresses the relative health and environmental concerns in a direct, forthright manner. Does the book title give you a clue? It is loaded with illustrative humorous personal incidents, and interspersed with quotes from literature, great explorers, and famous folk like John Muir and Katharine Hepburn.

Here's a verse, author unknown, that heads up the chapter: When You Can't Dig A Hole:

"In days of old
When knights were bold
And toilets weren't invented,
They left their load
Along the road
And walked off so contented."

That's not the kind of "trail maintenance" I recommend.

Kathleen deals with the "how to" of digging a "cat hole" in a manner consistent with the "leave no trace" philosophy. She addresses what to do when one can't dig a hole, (what do rock climbers do?) how to squat, diarrhea, water purification, menstruation, and TP substitutes.

Every outdoor enthusiast who ever introduces another to outdoor sports should read this book and loan it to as many folk as they can. Do it for me. Do it for yourself. Do it for the planet.

"Into Thin Air"

By John Krakauer

Submitted By: Rainmaker
Rating: 5

This very disturbing and riveting book tells the story of the 1996 disaster on Mt. Everest that ultimately claimed the lives of 12 climbers. The author was one of the survivors. When several different expeditions were near the summit, a blizzard struck without warning.

The book is difficult to put down. I like to read in bed, but frequently found myself unable to sleep for an hour or so after reading several chapters each night.

The book created images in my mind that are difficult to forget. On one occasion, several hypothermic and totally exhausted climbers are left to die in the snow by other climbers who didn�t wish to jeopardize their own chances of summitting Everest by stopping to offer aid. Later, one of the climbers who didn't offer aid simply said, "Above 8,000 meters (24,000 ft.), there is no morality".

This publication is highly recommended for anyone who is considering spending a large sum of money and planning to put their life into the hands of "experts". Most of the climbers who died were members of two commercial guide services; Mountain Madness, led by Scott Fischer, and Rob Hall of Adventure Consultants. Apparently, neither guide had a workable contingency plan to deal with being caught in a storm near the summit, even though such storms are not an infrequent occurrence. Ultimately, both Fischer and Hall perished in the ensuing blizzard.

To make matters worse, the guides were competing with each other, both trying to get the highest number of paying clients to the summit. Climbers normally pay $65,000 - $70,000 to get a shot at Everest, so �bragging rights�, success rates and reputations are important business considerations. Also, the personal egos of the guides were at stake, and in my opinion, this probably had more to do with the disaster than anything else.

Another disturbing aspect involved the efforts to get a prominent New York socialite to the summit, even at the expense of the safety of the other clients. The motivation apparently involved the fact that this person is rich, and has many prosperous and influential friends. Getting such a person to the summit is good for business. Anyway, one Sherpa guide �short-roped� her (tethered her to a line and dragged her to the summit), and another carried her 35 pounds of electronic equipment (laptop computer and satellite uplink equipment, though none of it worked at the 29,000 ft. summit). As a result, not only did the Sherpas ignore their other responsibilities, they were totally exhausted by the time they reached the summit. Neither was in any condition to offer aid or guidance to the other climbers when the storm hit.

The book is very well written, though I got a bit bored with all the history of Mt. Everest that was offered. I kept thinking, "Okay; you've told us where it is, how many people have died, and when it was first climbed, now get on with the story". However, it is an excellent read. Concerning the tragedy itself, not much has changed. Climbing at high altitude will always be dangerous. As one well known climber states in the book, what happened in 1996 will happen again, it is only a matter of time.

It was also pointed out that statistically, 1996 was a safer than average year. Historically, Everest has claimed the lives of about 1 in 4 of all climbers who have climbed above base camp. In 1996, �only� 12 died, and 84 climbers summitted, so the fatality rate was 1 in 7. Many years ago, I made a decision to pursue hiking instead of climbing. I'm very glad I made the choice that I did.

*****Where The Waters Divide*****

Submitted By: Brawny
Rating: 5

A Walk Along America's Continental Divide
By Karen Berger & Daniel R. Smith

The Continental Divide Trail (CDT) is a National Scenic Trail approved in 1978 by Congress and spans some 3100 miles along the backbone of America. At present only 70% is completed trail. This book gives life to that statistic. Karen tells of scrambling up talus and shale rock, trying to locate a way up, around, through or down landscape we all dream of hiking. I had ordered this book from the public library, but after 10 pages I decided it was a book worth owning, so that I could underline the great insights she offered, as well as town descriptions, for a trail so remote and underdeveloped only a few try thru hiking it in any given year.

There are jeep roads, logging roads, unidentified roads, cross country endeavors, searches for the nearest windmill (indicating water), and just general all around dependency on the compass and topo maps that make this trail an entirely different long distant hike. "...the route is still so incomplete that every person who walks on it takes a different path- - his or her own."

A lot of time is spent telling historical details about the small towns they visit along the way. About uprisings and invasions and the building and fading of ghost towns. The problem of, and policy for, water rights and (re)distribution. The multi-use and conflicting interest groups. There are many interesting stories of wonderful trail magic bestowed by cowboys and ranchers, even though they have conflicting views concerning best use of the land. Summing it up quite well, Karen wrote" As a society, we have managed, in the process of consuming goods and making money, to destroy a good part of our natural history."

One thing I missed and scoured the pages for was a time reference. When did they finish New Mexico? How long were they in Colorado? How many weeks did Wyoming take?

All I know for sure is that Karen and her husband, Dan, started on May 2nd, at Columbus, New Mexico, were in northern Wyoming in late September, and finished at Flathead Port on October 31st of the same year. Because of tremendous snow in Idaho, they chose to road walk the remaining 300 miles from Chief Joseph Pass in southern Idaho, for an estimated hike of 2,580 total miles. I admired their perseverance. Even though they couldn't finish the trail in the mountains, they still completed their hike to Canada.

The next year they went back on July 6 to hike from Chief Joseph Pass on the Continental Divide Trail to Canada via Watertown Lakes, finishing this 571 miles on August 25th, in 51 days.

In the beginning of every chapter, there is an area map of the CDT, with some towns and National Forests or Wilderness Areas noted. That makes it much easier to follow the saga of this remarkable long distance hike that Karen, Dan, and frequently other friends, who at times, were able to join them.

I recommend this book and definitely give it a 5 on the Mauldin Scale.

*****Somewhere Along The Way Video*****

- - Submitted By Rainmaker


This video details a 1991 thru-hike of the Pacific Crest Trail by 2 young brothers. Judging from their gear, it doesn't appear that they were very well prepared for their hike. If you watch closely, you will see many equipment changes. Their packs seem to be very heavy, and even the way that certain items are carried seems to change on a regular basis.

For me, the best part of this video is the scenery. It was very well photographed, apparently with high quality film. I think the real "star" is the photographer, and unfortunately, we never get to meet him / her.

The music leaves a lot to be desired, unless you enjoy bad singing and "clinky", repetitious piano music. When I watch the video now (mainly for the desert and High Sierra scenery), I leave the sound off.

To me, the two brothers appear to be very uncomfortable on film. We see them a lot; but at the end of the video, I didn't feel like I knew either of them at all. They don't verbalize well on camera, and it seems that we are always watching their hike "from a distance"; that the viewer is not quite a part of what is going on.

Viewers might get the impression that all PCT thru-hikers need to carry snowshoes and massive packs. However, the only snowshoes I've seen on the PCT were in this video, and the massive packs are certainly not required.

Running time is approximately one hour, and I think the video is available from the PCT Association for about $25. I'll rate it a 3.


- - Submitted By Splash

Author: Ray Jardine

Rating 4: For completeness of information

Rating 3: In that some of the subjective information could be misused, as Ray's way has been tried over several months and thousands of miles, but by only TWO people. All that works for them may not work for you.

Rating 5: For the excellent chapter on sewing your own gear

In order to review this book, I had to first lighten up on my Jardine prejudices, including my feeling that the Pacific Crest Trail Hiker's Handbook by Ray Jardine, has created an ultra-lite cult.

When the book first arrived, I spent a week browsing it randomly. Then I thought to actually review it fairly, I should read it all, not what interested me just at the moment.

Beyond Backpacking is very informative and Jardine often gives his reasons behind recommending a certain piece of gear or method of doing something. Much of the information is from Jardine's first book PCT Hiker's Handbook and is familiar to anyone having read that book.

Beyond Backpacking has chapters on virtually every aspect of backpacking from the usual gear and food, to how to deal with various weather conditions including lightning. Jardine writes a thorough chapter on hygiene and a most excellent chapter on sewing your own gear.

A few parts that drew my negative attention (and the #3 rating) mostly because novices could be misled by Jardine's confident way of stating ideas as if they are law, were as follows:

1). Bail Handles on cookpots --- I have lost more heated water with this handle than any other, including plain bandana as a potholder.

2).Cook fire use --- I believe to use cook fires in order to not carry more fuel (weight) is irresponsible with the increasing use of trails and backcountry areas. Even using Jardine's low impact cook fire and "monster mash" I worry about the accumulated impact if thousands of backcountry users did likewise.

3). The tarp --- Jardine has perfected the use of a tarp but one should experiment in various conditons and locations before relying on one. 4). Corn pasta --- try it, if you dare, and also any other food you plan to use on an extended trip.

5). First aid kit --- while being fairly complete, in my opinion, it has a skimpy amount of some items, especially hydrogen peroxide.

6). Footwear --- Jardine suggests buying shoes 1-2 1/2 sizes larger than usual, which I agree with in theory. But again use what will work for your feet and climate: hot weather equals more foot swelling. But some shoes, if too long, flex in the wrong place and can irritate your arch, as I found out.

Jardine does point out a few times that camping on ridge crests and summits is a bad idea. He also states that the book is not intended for adventuring where a bivy is needed. He is experienced and aware of limitations to his gear, although subtly expressed. Basically, the book is a good read.


- - Submitted By Rowanangel_f


Author: Julia Butterfly Hill

Remember the old tree-house you had in the backyard as a kid? Remember how you used to play in it for hours until your mother called you in for dinner? Well, Julia Butterfly Hill also had a tree-house. Only hers was nestled at a height of 180 feet in one of the few remaining redwoods of the Lost Coast... and she never came down for dinner.

You may have heard of her. She's the "crazy" environmentalist who climbed up into a redwood named Luna as part of a tree-sit at the age of 23. She came back down at the age of 25. That's right. She lived on a 6x8 foot platform sheltered by tarps through winter, spring, summer, and fall for two years. What sent this remarkable young woman up into that tree and into quite an unexpected journey was her immense love of nature, an overwhelming fear of losing the few remaining redwoods in this country, a first-hand view of the devastation caused by clear-cutting, and the determination to make a difference. What sustained her against the abundant physical challenges, the potentially overwhelming emotional strains, and the enormous outside pressures to come over the next two years is an entirely different story. It's the story that Julia tells in her own words in her book "The Legacy of Luna."

Much as she never expected to find herself tree-sitting, the account of Julia's two years in that tree unfolded for me in a way I had not expected. I assumed that life in a tree would be one of solitude and reflection, silence and stillness. As it turns out, life for Julia was anything but. She endured a barrage of phone calls from reporters and radio show hosts. She kept herself busy making calls to government officials, sending letters, and engaging in many other forms activism. She even managed to entertain the occasional celebrity visitor such as the likes of Woody Harrelson, Bonnie Raitt, and Joan Baez. In short, tree-sitting turned out to be a full time job. That is not to say, however, that Julia's existence was void of stillness. On the contrary, it was inward stillness from which Julia learned to listen. And prayer from which she drew her strength. While the book narrates the painful realities of the present state of our environment, it also reflects the magnificence of nature and the hope that it endures. This is truly an inspiring story and I give it a 5.

Five Million Steps Video

We have two reviews for this popular video:

Submitted By tattoogranny

Rating: 5

I bought the 5 Million Steps video many years ago. It's almost worn out. I watch it at least 3 times a week! When I can't be out on the AT I watch it. When I have Springer Fever, I watch it. When I'm trying to talk one or two of my grandchildren to hike with me, I watch it. When I get Cabin Fever, I watch it.

What I'm trying to say is, I love it. I would also suggest it for anyone planning a thru hike OR section hike to see it. It gives some real insight on different degrees of hiking and lets you know, YES you can do it.

Submitted By Rainmaker

Rating: 4

This video was produced in 1987 by Lynne Whelden, and I think it was one of his first. Its a favorite among AT hikers, and you will likely find it available for sale almost everywhere that videos of the AT are sold.

Concerning gear, it is obviously outdated, but it somehow captures the essence, flavor and texture of thru-hiking the AT better than any other video I've seen.

Lynne interviews one thru-hiker for each of the 14 states that the AT traverses. At the end, we find out what happened to all of them; obviously, not all of them make it to Katahdin. A notable "interviewee" is Bob Barker. Bob has MS, and has hiked the AT three times - - on forearm crutches. I think about that a lot when my back hurts!

I purchased this video shortly before I hiked the AT in 1992. I especially like the music. Lynne Whelden also hiked the AT that year, and he and I hiked together for a while (before he got ahead of me, like everyone else). Anyway, one day in Pennsylvania, he hiked up behind me and heard me whistling the theme song from "Five Million Steps". He said it was the highlight of his day, and we shared a good laugh over it.

If you want to practically feel the rain in your face on a hot summer day, almost smell the food cooking around the shelters in the evenings, and experience the gritty "feel" of hiking the AT, this old favorite may be for you. I think its available from the ATC for about $30. Running time is just under and hour and a half. I'll rate it a 4.


- - Submitted By Rainmaker


This book was written by Cindy Ross, and it is the story of her 2 year hike of the Pacific Crest Trail. Cindy also hiked the AT, and wrote a book about her AT hike. I believe its called "A Woman's Journey".

I really liked "Journey On The Crest", and it served to generate a lot of interest in my own section hike of the PCT. Unlike other authors, Cindy allows the readers to see her mistakes, and to learn from them. In addition, she is not above laughing at herself, and at some of the situations she gets herself into.

She began her hike in a year when the snow was very heavy in the High Sierra. Frankly, I don't know how she did it. I hiked the first thousand miles of the PCT in a very light snow year, and I had all I could handle in the High Sierra, and in the vicinity of Sonora Pass. Her "near-death" experience at Sonora Pass serves as fair warning concerning what to expect, and what can happen there.

Concerning gear, this book is obviously outdated. She hiked the PCT in the early 80's. However, regardless of gear, the trail remains. In my experience, though, the route is much better marked now.

This is a good read, and the book successfully captures the gritty feel and "never say die" aspects of a long-distance hike. I rated it a 4. I believe it is available from the Pacific Crest Trail Association for about $15.