When I turned thirty, my parents gave me my own hiking guide, Russ Schnieder's Hiking the Columbia River Gorge. I was newly back in Oregon and trying to take advantage of that, so I was delighted. Enjoying "The Great Outdoors" was also a value my parents had tried to instill in all of us, and I always got a kick out of how pleased they were when we demonstrated it had worked. I started tracking the hikes I took, jotting down the date, my companions, and notes about the hike itself in the margins of the book.
I like Schneider's style. His directions are clear and thorough, and his trail notes are personable without crossing the line into becoming essays about his own experiences. The photos are larger and thus easier to see than the ones from my parents' book. I went on a bit of a outdoors guide binge in my thirties, ending up with hiking guides to different parts of the state, backpacking guides, a guide to wildflower hikes, wildflower and bird identification guides, one on tent camping sites, and one about trails and campsites near lakes where motors are banned. None of them ever got the use that the Columbia Gorge book did.
Time has rolled on. I don't hike nearly as much anymore, although every year I swear I'm going to change that. Some of the trails in my book have been affected by time, weather, and politics. Dogs that accompanied me on earlier hikes have died, as have my parents. The internet has made this type of guide mostly obsolete anyway. Still, Hiking the Columbia River Gorge will be on my shelf for the rest of my life.