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Reviews > Books > Trail Guides > Mountain Footseps > Owner Review by Andrea Murland

Mountain Footsteps
Hikes in the East Kootenay of Southeastern British Columbia
by Janice Strong

Owner Review by Andrea Murland
October 30, 2014

Tester Information

Name: Andrea Murland
Email: amurland AT shaw DOT ca
Age: 29
Location: Elkford & Kimberley, British Columbia, Canada
Gender: Female
Height: 5 ft 2 in (1.57 m)
Weight: 130 lb (59 kg)
Image Courtesy of Rocky Mountain Books
Book Cover

I began hiking frequently in 2006 and have since hiked in Western Canada, Australia, and spent 2 months backpacking in the Alps. I spend most weekends either day-hiking or on 2-3 day backpacking trips, with some longer trips when I can manage them. I also snowshoe and ski in the winter, but don’t have a lot of experience with winter in the backcountry yet. Elevation is typically 500-3,000 m (1,600-10,000 ft), in the Canadian Rockies and the Selkirk, Purcell, and Monashee ranges. I try for a light pack, but I don’t consider myself a lightweight backpacker.

Product Information

Title: Mountain Footsteps: Hikes in the East Kootenay of Southern British Columbia
Author: Janice Strong
Publisher: Rocky Mountain Books
Publisher's URL: www.rmbooks.com
Published: 2011
Edition: Third - updated
ISBN: 978-1-926855-29-5
MSRP: CAD 26.95
Measured Size: 21.7 cm x 14.1 cm x 1.7 cm (8.5 in x 5.6 in x 0.7 in)
Measured Weight: 467 g (16.5 oz)
Pages: 288

Description

“Mountain Footsteps” is a hiking guide for the local area where I live. The book lists 88 hikes, though some of those listed consist of an overview of multiple trails in an area, and many hikes describe further exploration that can be done in the same area, so there are certainly more than 88 hiking options in the book. The book is focused on the East Kootenay, a region which encompasses, generally, the area west of the British Columbia/Alberta border, north of the Canada/United States border, south of the Rocky Mountain National Parks (such as Banff), and east of the West Kootenays. The author has divided this area into four: the Northern Purcells, Southern Purcells, Northern Rockies, and Southern Rockies. A map right at the front of the book shows these four areas, along with highways and park boundaries.

I will note that the author has a separate web page which has quite a lot of useful information. This includes information on hikes included in previous editions but removed from this one, and a forum for updates on backcountry road conditions. I try to make a point of checking it before heading out.

Field Conditions

I received this book in late 2011, and have used it quite a bit in the past three years. I have done nineteen of the hikes so far. I have never carried the actual book on a hike, as I usually remember to make a photocopy of the description for the hike I’m planning. I often have the book in the car for driving directions, but leave it there when I reach the trailhead. My book is still in pretty pristine condition for a hiking guide!

Layout

The Table of Contents of the book is divided into the four geographical areas already described. In each area, hikes are grouped further by location, and then the actual hikes are listed with a hike number and name, and the corresponding page number. There is no other information about the hike in the Contents.

Partial Table of Contents
Table of Contents

After the Contents is a series of sections of information. These include how to read the driving and hiking directions (e.g. hiking distances are one-way, and definitions of what the vehicle ratings mean), a map legend, information about the area, how to hike safely, and precautions to take.

At the beginning of each of the four sections of the book (corresponding to the four areas) there is a more detailed road map of the area, showing highways and major backcountry roads. These maps also show the general location of each hike or group of hikes.

Now, the hike descriptions themselves. I have taken a picture of the description for a hike that I did in June 2014, and will use that to help explain. This particular hike, #45 Cliff Lake, is in the Southern Rockies. All of the hike description pages have several sections. On the main part of the page, under the heading, in decent sized text, is a general description of the hike and surroundings. This may include landmarks, descriptions of the valleys, some basic history, and camping information. Each page also has a sidebar on the left in small text, with the real details. The first part of the sidebar gives pertinent information about the hike: rating, time, distance, elevation gain, key elevation, a short description of trail conditions, and the topographical map sheets for the area. Below that is a section called “Drive”, which starts with listing what page the road map can be found on in the book, a description of the type of vehicle required, and then detailed driving directions from a major landmark. Then comes a section called “Trail”, with detailed trail directions by distance. If the sidebar details are considerably longer than the general description, they often turn into two columns on the final page, as can be seen in the case of Cliff Lake. Most of the hikes (or groups of hikes in close proximity) also have a small trail map. These maps show contour lines and the location of the trail and major points of interest (camping, restrooms, summits, etc.), but I wouldn’t consider them suitable for navigation. They are a useful reference though.
Cliff Lake Hike Description
Hike Description

My Thoughts

In general, I like this book. I find the driving and trail details to be very useful while hiking and also while planning. In general, I find the trail details to match my own opinion (e.g. Cliff Lake was, in fact, a long full day, at least in snowy June), and the vehicle rating to usually be on the cautious side. The trail maps can be a bit small, but at least there’s something. I do find the layout to be a bit hard to read. Personally, I find it hard to differentiate between the sidebar details and the main body of text, especially on a second page where the sidebar has turned into two columns. As well, with the very small text, I have to really focus while I’m flipping pages to find the information I’m looking for.

I use this book more for getting the details of a hike once I’ve decided that I’m going to do it, or I’ve narrowed a day down to a couple of hike options. Then I can read all the details here and choose. I don’t find it easy to browse through the book looking for a hike that meets my criteria for a day. I would find it more useful if there was a summary page (or part of the table of contents) which gave some idea of distance or difficulty before needing to find the right page and focus on the tiny sidebar.

I do love the stunning full-colour photos in the book. Kudos to the photographers!

Cliff Lake Hike (these are my photos)
Cliff Lake

Summary

“Mountain Footsteps” is a trail guide for the East Kootenay region which offers accurate and detailed descriptions of some of the hikes in the region. It’s a great reference for our little corner of the world.

Thumbs Up:
Accurate hiking and driving details
Accurate trail ratings
Trail maps (even if they are small)
Beautiful photos

Thumbs Down:
Layout hard to read (for me)
No summary page with basic hike details



Read more reviews of Rocky Mountain Books gear
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