My Adirondacks AUthor: Erik Schlimmer PAGES: 249 COPYRIGHT: 2015
 
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If you see me get dragged into that thicket and I start screaming, pick up my radio, press the button on the side, and tell them I died doing what I loved."

Erik Schlimmer said that to a cute girl he was trying to impress in the Adirondack backcountry years ago, when he was working as an assistant forest ranger. Schlimmer was also doing his job chasing off a black bear that kept approaching the girl and her friends at a remote lean-to. Sorry for the spoiler, but the girl never needed to make that call.

Schlimmer staked out all night and eventually dissuaded the bear from returning to the lean-to, but not before a few close calls and a destroyed campsite.

This is one of the stories Schlimmer shares in his latest book. "My Adirondacks" is comprised of 10 short stories, each of which details experiences that Schlimmer has had in more than two decades of Adirondack hiking, most of which have been off-trail.

Schlimmer is the founder of the Trans-Adirondack route, and a prodigious hiker. This is his fourth book. Two of his earlier books are hiking guides and include the official trail guide to the Trans-Adirondack route. In 2014, Schlimmer published "History Inside the Blue Line," which explores the stories behind Adirondack place names.

From his earliest exploits in camping to mapping out a route that runs from the southern boundary to the northernmost reaches of the Blue Line, "My Adirondacks" shows that Schlimmer is no armchair mountaineer.

Schlimmer's stories wander from hiking with a fellow Army vet who had never bushwhacked to meeting a couple of guys from New Jersey who were suffering from wicked chaffing. His descriptive narrative puts the reader in his place, and the sights, sounds and smells of the woods seem to come off the page in between laughs. Readers who also like to hike in the Adirondacks will want to keep a notepad handy to write down some hike ideas.

But the stories are not just trail reports, especially since so much of the hiking discussed takes place off trail. Schlimmer talks about his hiking philosophies and the things he's learned through more than 20 years spent exploring the woods, information that is as valuable to a newbie as it is a veteran hiker.

And while this tome is a hiking memoir, it often reads like an adventure book or narrative guide book. Schlimmer goes in-depth into what he carries while hiking and why. He isn't afraid to write about mistakes that he's learned from, such as accidentally climbing the wrong mountain, and again getting excited about meeting a cute girl in the woods.