Sunday, September 14, 2008

New Books from the Senior Gadds

I don't normally write about my family on here, but it's pretty much unavoidable at the moment.

As many readers may know, my dad is Ben Gadd, author of the Canadian Rockies "bible," the Handbook of the Canadian Rockies. The Handbook is definitely the most-consulted resource for anyone who needs to know about the plants, animals, geology and much more that is found in the Canadian Rockies. I expect there is a copy in the library if not in the pack of every naturalist, tour guide, hiking guide and "curious" Rockies inhabitant or visitor.

For the last five or so years my dad has been hard at work on not one but two new books. The first is an instructional guide on how to hike and backpack in Canada; it's a distillation of my dad's more than 40 years of strapping a pack on and getting out into the mountains. I experienced about 39 of those 40+ years and I survived so he must have some decent skills. While it's written specifically for Canada, it's a worthwhile book for anyone who would like to enjoy afternoons or multi-day trips on the trail. Our old family friend, Lonnie Springer, shot most of the excellent photos.

The second book is at the opposite end of the exertion spectrum; a guide to the geology found along (or at least within sight) of the roads of the Canadian Rockies. It's organized by mileage and also by GPS waypoints, so you just drive down the road, keep track of your mileage or GPS position and stop to have a look at the best geologic features along the way. I grew up with both mobile and stationary lectures on what was happening geologically out the car windows, so I'll vouch for the fact that my dad is both well-qualified and uniquely enthusiastic about all things geologic. I remember taking Geology 101 and thinking, "Yeah, that was covered when I was about six, somewhere up near the Icefields." There is a series of roadside geology guides for the US, this book is the solution for the Canadian Rockies. If you've ever driven the Trans-Can and wondered, "Why is all that rock falling onto the road?," Canadian Rockies Geology Road Tours has the answer.

It should also be pointed out that while my dad wrote the books, it was my mom who edited them, put up with my dad over the years in all sorts of foul weather in small tents, and also often served as the scale model in many of the shots in both books. My parents are dedicated pro-environment people, and love to share the mountains with both friends and the groups they take out into the Rockies. I think they have likely spent more time on foot in the Rockies than anyone since the aboriginal people who lived here first.

If you're looking for a Christmas present or some solid self-education please check these books out. Also know that you're supporting some good people who don't live large; while writing the geology tour book my parents camped and lived out of their aging Subaru for weeks at a time. These books are written for people like us who live to be outside and understand the natural world, not to make the author rich or to simply sit on a coffee table in Japan (although with any luck both scenarios might happen!).

So a big congratulations to Ben and Cia for their work!

A proud son,