Books for explorers on your gift list

Come spring, when the Winter Olympics have been relegated to the history books, it will be time to cross the border in relative peace and quiet.

For now, content yourself with “Parks and Nature Places Around Vancouver” ($25) while planning a weekender on British Columbia’s Lower Mainland.

More than 40 naturalists contributed information to 61 sites for excellent coverage.

Each destination comes with descriptive text, map, photograph, natural history information and alerts, such as bears, or steep drops at the sides of some trails, or nesting owls that defend their territories during breeding season.

Despite the economy, outdoors- and travel-related books continue to hit the bookshelves. Here are a few to consider as a gift for someone else — or yourself.

Polar bears and humans have something in common: ice. While the relationship of bears to ice is easy to understand, it’s often harder people to ferret out a compelling connection for humans.

That’s reason enough for “Planet Ice” ($40). Through James Martin’s beautiful photography and several experts’ essays, the connection becomes clear, as do potential traumas for both bears and humans if ice continues to disappear.

Using science, historic photographs, records, far north cultures and personal experiences, “Ice” sends a troublesome message, but one that needs to be delivered in every way possible.

By the end of this important book, it’s clear: Ice matters.

Many travelers spend time admiring buildings, especially older ones built with rocks. David Williams has added tales to the building material in “Stories in Stones: Travels Through Urban Geology” ($26).

Follow the Seattle resident’s journey as he connects science, nature, history, economics, poetry and architecture in an engaging read.

Let Anne and Laurence Yeadon-Jones guide your winter dreams about summer cruises with the sixth volume of the Dreamspeaker Cruising Guide, “The West Coast of Vancouver Island” ($50).

The quality information, art, maps and charts, photographs and water-resistant pages continue to meet the high expectations set by earlier volumes.

The life of a Mount Rainier climbing ranger can take many twists and turns. Bree Loewen’s “Pickets and Dead Men: Seasons on Mount Rainier” ($17) describes her experiences with the mountain as well as the public and other rangers, sometimes colored by the seemingly automatic lack of respect given to a female.

Skill, determination and humor carry her through the challenges, including a rescue on the last day of a climbing season. You don’t need to be a climber to enjoy this story.

If you’ve read Bryan Peterson’s other photography books, then you might want to skip his “Understanding Photography Field Guide” ($25) since there’s a lot of overlap of information and photographs.

If you haven’t, then buy this high-gloss 400-page book (feels smaller) whose subtitle is “How to Shoot Great Photographs With any Camera.”

His photographs, writing style and examples are packaged for study or a guide to field exercises.

Never underestimate the power of waterfalls to act as hiker magnets. Tony Greenfield’s “Waterfalls of British Columbia” ($27) is a guide to 100 waterfalls that will have you digging out your B.C. road map.

Each fall is rated with location, type, access and when to go, plus a text that includes directions and highlights.

Mike Hughes’ “The Northwest Dive Guide” ($30) is a scuba handbook for British Columbia, Washington and Oregon. He devotes the first half to indispensable cold-water training and gear information, the second half to dive destinations.

Advanced amateurs will find 52 challenges in Chris Gatcum’s “Camera Creative: Professional Photography Techniques for Innovative Images” ($25).

Star trails, time lapse, camera tossing are but three techniques in the creative shooting section. Other sections include lenses and accessories, lighting gear, and digital processing and printing.

Columnist Sharon Wootton can be reached at 360-468-3964 or

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