On The Page: One Tough Mother

When Season 4 of the #omniten arrived in Park City, we all sat down to watch this video about Columbia Sportswear’s history of #tryingstuff. My favorite part of the video was this little clip from Gert Boyle:

One Tough Mother: Success in Business, Life, and Apple Pies is her story of how she and her son Tim took over Columbia after her husband’s sudden death in 1970. Gert had helped out at the company in her younger years but retreated to life as a mother and homemaker while her husband entered the family business.

One Tough Mother

It was a difficult transition but Gert and Tim eventually sought out the guidance they needed to transform Columbia into a large global scale company. It was cool to read about how asking customers for their input on products has been a part of the company from the very beginning! It’s exciting to be part of the #omniten and that long standing tradition.

The most fun part of the book is probably the section with copy of many of the ads featuring Gert. It was a lot of fun to flip through them: I definitely remember Columbia marketing itself as being “products of an overprotective mother”!

On The Page: Following Atticus

Hiking with Sprocket is one of my favorite things to do: he’s a good listener but doesn’t argue, is willing to go anywhere, and gives me a bit of company on the trail. After we hiked Signal Peak a few weeks ago, I bragged a little bit on Twitter about my awesome hiking pup and Adam responded with a book recommendation: Following Atticus.

Honestly, I wasn’t all that interested in reading about a little tiny pocket dog climbing mountains. Dogs aren’t supposed to be purse sized! Amazon had the Kindle edition on sale for $1.99 though so I decided to give it a try (it’s back to regular price, $5.74, now).

I don’t know why I doubted. Tom Ryan’s Following Atticus: Forty-Eight High Peaks, One Little Dog, and An Extraordinary Friendship is about a dog, hiking, finding peace in the outdoors, and even peakbagging.

The story starts with Ryan becoming a pet owner. He and his first dog, Max, bond and Ryan begins to develop a sense of how a dog and his owner can help each other. After Max’s death, he adopts Atticus, a miniature schnauzer.

Photo The Adventures of Tom and Atticus
Photo The Adventures of Tom and Atticus

Along the lines, Tom was introduced to hiking New Hampshire’s 4,000′ mountains by one of his brothers. Overweight and out of shape, following Atticus to the mountaintop inspired him. Before he knew it, he and Atticus climbed all 48 of New Hampshire’s 4,000′ peaks in a summer.

Futher inspired by a friend’s strength as she battled cancer, Ryan decided to scale the 4,000′ peaks again. In the winter. Twice. The money raised by their attempt would benefit The Jimmy Fund. After their near triump, came the inevitable dog-book crying. F just gave me the “here-she-goes-again” look as I slithered to the floor to pet my own pup.

Photo The Adventures of Tom and Atticus
Photo The Adventures of Tom and Atticus

 

Fortunately, the book didn’t end there. Instead, Ryan and Tom headed to the mountains again to re-attempt their winter goal: this time to raise money for Angell Memorial Medical Center, the MSPCA’s veterinary clinic.

Photo The Adventures of Tom and Atticus
Photo The Adventures of Tom and Atticus

Following Atticus is exactly what you would expect: a heartwarming story about a dog and his human learning how truly wonderful and inspiring the outdoors can be. This story made me cry, made me smile, and made me happy to have such a loving, wonderful dog in my own life.

On The Page: Called Again

Called Again

Called Again: A Story of Love and Triumph details Jennifer Pharr Davis’s journey to become the fastest person to thru-hike the Appalachian Trail. Reeling from a breakup, Davis looks to speed hiking to help salve her soul. Immediately, she set her sights on the AT as her goal. A friend convinced her to start with Vermont’s Long Trail where she started her journey. After her Long Trail hike, she started her own hiking company because she was “convinced that the trail was the best and cheapest therapy” possible.

Her first AT speed attempt, aided by her husband Brew, landed her the women’s supported speed record. Several years later, she was back on the trail attempting to set the overall AT record.

In just over 46 days of intense effort on her part with help from Brew and a cast of supportive friends, friends of friends, and more, Davis battles shin splints, weather, exhaustion and more in achieving her goal.

If you enjoyed Wild, read this to get a glimpse of an outdoors woman learning how much she can accomplish. If you hated Wild, you’ll probably like Called Again. As a lover of most thru-hiker accounts, especially ones where an experienced hiker has a unique experience, I devoured this book in the space of a couple of hours.

On The Page: River Notes

On the plane up to Salt Lake City for the #omnigames I read Wade Davis’ River Notes: A Natural and Human History of the Colorado River. The timing was great: out the window I looked out to an awesome view of the Grand Canyon. As it turns out, we spend quite a bit of time playing in Colorado River basin states plus after reading The Emerald Mile, I realized there was lots to learn about this massive and unique river.

River Notes

Although River Notes had its share of interesting river tidbits, it was shorter and a lot less comprehensive than I’d hoped for. Davis’ intention seemed to be a plea for better river system policy (a worthy goal!) than documenting the natural and human history of the river.

The Mississippi River is known as “Big Muddy” however historically the Colorado moved a huge amount of sediment to the sea: “The average daily sediment load was five hundred thousand tons, enough to fill a hundred freight trains, each with a hundred cars, with each car bearing a load of two hundred thousand pounds.” Before the construction of the dams, “One hundred seventy million cubic cards of sand and silt” were moved down river—more than “three times the amount of dirt excavated to create the Panama Canal.” The Colorado is not the longest North American river nor does it move the most water but in four hundred miles it drops “some 2,500 feet in elevation, a rate of descent twenty-five times that of the Mississippi.”

I’d read a little bit about the formation of the modern Salton Sea in The Emerald Mile but enjoyed reading more about how in 1905 the flooded Colorado defied the man made structures separating it into its natural channel and the California Development Company’s Alamo Canal. For sixteen months the river flowed into the below sea level depression (an ancient path of the river itself).

As mentioned previously, most of River Notes is a plea to save the Colorado River. Davis discusses the appalling water policy surrounding cattle ranching and meat production (“in California, Arizona, and Nevada, roughly 85 percent of the water allotment goes to agriculture, with roughly half the irrigated land devoted to the raising of meat”). He does note a minor success story in the (very) partial restoration of the Colorado River Delta. “What began in the 1970s as a small island of fertility, fed in part by natural springs, runoff, and storm surges from the sea, has grown a hundredfold to become a lush wetland covering more than forty thousand acres. Land that had been sterile for a half century took but eight years to regenerate.”

On The Page: MotoRaid

MotoRaid

After reading Obsessions Die Hard, I read MotoRaid by Keith Thye. MotoRaid recounts the story of Thye’s adventure riding from Oregon to Chile in the 1960s with his friend Dave. Thye’s writing style is pretty minimalistic (which might be related to the book being published quite after the adventure) but the story of two young men heading out to South America is quite entertaining.

Along their route, the Keith and Dave face bad roads, food poisoning, and rainstorms. They make friends with local residents and visited sites like Machu Pichu. They took a “road” leading from La Paz, Bolivia hoping to end up in Chile but ended up re-entering Peru illegally. They finished their southbound journey in Pucón, Chile where the residents threw a raucous party in their honor.

I was honestly a bit surprised at how hard MotoRaid was to put down. I think it only took me two sittings to finish it. If you’re interested in adventure travel stories (motorized or not!) check this out for a good read.