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Originally published Wednesday, June 8, 2011 at 7:00 PM

What's new this summer on the outdoors bookshelf

Here's a sampling of recent new guidebooks and other volumes of use to people who hike, climb, paddle and otherwise enjoy the outdoors.

Special to The Seattle Times

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Here's a sampling of recent new guidebooks and other volumes of use to people who hike, climb, paddle and otherwise enjoy the outdoors:

"Day Hiking: Columbia River Gorge" by Craig Romano (The Mountaineers Books, $18.95)

In Romano's fourth installment in The Mountaineers' day hiking series, his enthusiasm for the task and attention to detail are again clearly evident.

Romano, whose other guides cover the North Cascades, Central Cascades and Olympics, offers 100 round-trips (50 in Washington, 50 in Oregon) that range from 1.2 to 16 miles, with most under seven. Romano notably made it his mission to seek out worthwhile trails on the Columbia Gorge's Washington side, commonly overshadowed by Oregon's showy waterfalls.

Good maps, interesting sidebars (Romano is a former history teacher) and accurate descriptions distinguish his work. I've hiked several times with Romano and know he gets his facts right. It's a nice package; Romano has a backpacking guide coming out later this month.

Speaking of history, "Hiking Washington's History," by Judy Bentley (UW Press, $18.95) selects 40 trails (or clusters of trails) statewide, going heavy on history and lighter on route details. History fans are more likely to appreciate it than trail hounds.

"Fit by Nature" by John Colver and M. Nicole Nazzaro (The Mountaineers Books, $24.95)

Here's an unconventional (in terms of contemporary thinking, anyway) approach to fitness — using the outdoors as a training ground for endurance or fitness challenges.

Colver, a former British paratrooper and once a member of Britain's national cycling team, makes a convincing case for the benefits of simple (but increasingly intense) calisthenics performed in open spaces and public parks. Who needs a rack of weights in Seattle, for instance, when so much driftwood lies around just waiting to be hoisted or curled?

The book is basically an outline of what Colver teaches clients in his 12-week Adventx course, taught in green spaces around Seattle. Colver, a part-time guide for International Mountain Guides, led me to Mount Rainier's summit last summer, and his quiet confidence and physiological savvy kept me motivated on the long grind up. I still belong to a gym, but Colver's alternative approach is intriguing.

"The 10 Best of Everything: National Parks" by National Geographic ($21.95)

This colorful collection of arbitrary, thumb-through lists is fun to ponder.

Sol Duc Hot Springs is listed among "10 Best Swimming Holes"; Olympic and North Cascades are both mentioned in "10 Best Short Backpacking Trips" (Cape Alava/Rialto Beach and Sahale Arm, respectively); and Rainier is mentioned in a dozen top 10s, from "Best Park Landmarks" (duh) to "Best Epic Backpacking Trips" (Wonderland Trail).

Other notable titles

"Ultralight Backpackin' Tips" by Mike Clelland (Falcon Guides, $14.95): Can an experienced backpacker set out for a 10-day trip with a pack weighing less than 25 pounds? "No foolin'," says the author, who argues a true UL hiker needs to distinguish Needs from Wants. Radical in places, but interesting.

"Alaska Adventure Guide" by Melissa DeVaughn (Menasha Ridge Press, $18.95): Reminiscent of "Best Places" travel companions from Sasquatch Books, DeVaughn's book offers basic, useful overviews of activities (best hiking, canoeing, road biking etc.) plus lists of lodging, outfitters and eateries. Handy for first-time visitors.

"Stand-up Paddling" by Rob Casey (The Mountaineers Books, $21.95): Casey, a Seattle native, does a thorough job of explaining the basics of SUP on flat water, on rivers and in surf.

"My First Summer in the Sierra" by John Muir (Houghton Mifflin, $30): A 100th-anniversary re-creation of Muir's insightful diary from the summer of 1869.

"Freedom of the Hills" card deck (The Mountaineers Books, $6.95): The 10 Essentials on the ace of clubs; cloud formations (king of diamonds); accident response steps (ace of hearts). Smart.

"National Geographic Road Atlas, Adventure Edition" ($20): Includes short profiles of 24 national parks. Spiral binding splits some states but is easy to handle.

"100 Classic Hikes in Oregon" by Douglas Lorain (The Mountaineers Books, $21.95): A revised edition of a terrific guidebook first published in 2004.

More to mull

For intrepid foragers, there's "Fat of the Land" by Langdon Cook and "Northwest Foraging" by Doug Benoliel (both from Skipstone, $16.95); birders will embrace "Backyard Guide to the Birds of North America" by National Geographic ($18.95); turn to "Field Guide to the Rare Plants of Washington" (UW Press, $39.95) to tell your dicots from your monocots, and to "Field Guide to Marine Mammals of the Pacific Coast" (University of California Press, $24.95) to learn minutiae about more than three dozen types of whales and dolphins, plus several sea lions and otters.

Freelance writer Terry Wood is also principal writer for The REI Blog and the Expert Advice section of REI.com.

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