Saturday, December 20, 2014

Book Review: ‘Adirondack Trail Skier’

trail skier bookAfter last week’s snowstorm, a lot of people got out to ski and or at least were prompted into thinking of skiing. Ah, but where to go?

For years, the bible for the region’s cross-country skiers has been Tony Goodwin’s Ski and Snowshoe Trails in the Adirondacks.

Now there’s another book on the market: Adirondack Trail Skier by Spencer Morrissey.

Morrissey self-published his guidebook in 2013, but I didn’t get a copy until late last winter, so I held off reviewing it until now.

This is Morrissey’s third book. He also wrote The Other 54, a guidebook for those intent on climbing the hundred highest peaks in the Adirondacks, and (with Corenne Black) Adirondack Trail Runner, a guide to trails suitable for running.

Like his earlier books, Adirondack Trail Skier suffers from some flaws common to many self-published works: misspellings, grammatical mistakes, unattractive book design, graphics that are sometimes nearly indecipherable. His writing is folksy, if not always clear.

But Morrissey makes up for these shortcomings in his enthusiasm and in the sheer quantity of his ideas.

He divides the Adirondack Park into five regions and describes 103 ski trips. But that’s not all: a separate section of the book, some eighty pages, is devoted to the Jackrabbit Trail and various trail networks, such as Henry’s Woods in Lake Placid, the Visitor Interpretive Centers in Newcomb and Paul Smiths, and commercial ski centers.

All told, depending on how you count them, Morrissey offers suggestions for about 140 ski trips. They run the gamut from golf courses to Mount Marcy.

In contrast, Goodwin’s guidebook describes only 50 trips (and some of them are aimed more at snowshoers than skiers). Such selectivity can be seen as a virtue: someone unfamiliar with the Adirondacks can rely on Goodwin’s judgment to find a good ski trail that falls within his or her ability. Unlike Morrissey, Goodwin rates the trails as beginner, novice, intermediate, and expert

Published by the Adirondack Mountain Club, Ski and Snowshoe Trails in the Adirondacks also enjoys the advantage of having been better written and designed. As a result, it is more reader-friendly than Adirondack Trail Skier.

I have owned Goodwin’s book for many years and will continue to use it, but I’m glad to own Morrissey’s as well. I have done most of the routes in Goodwin’s book, and so the other night I found myself flipping through Morrissey’s looking for new places to go. He certainly offers plenty of options, including many that never would have occurred to me. Perhaps this winter I’ll make it to Grizzle Ocean or Razorback Pond or Terry Mountain. If so, I expect Morrissey will have broken the trail.

Adirondack Trail Skier, by Spencer Morrissey, softcover, 390 pages, $18.95.

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Phil Brown

Phil Brown is the former Editor of Adirondack Explorer, the regional bimonthly with a focus on outdoor recreation and environmental issues, the same topics he writes about here at Adirondack Almanack.

Phil is also an energetic outdoorsman whose job and personal interests often find him hiking, canoeing, rock climbing, trail running, and backcountry skiing.

He is the author of Adirondack Paddling: 60 Great Flatwater Adventures, which he co-published with the Adirondack Mountain Club, and the editor of Bob Marshall in the Adirondacks, an anthology of Marshall’s writings.

Visit Lost Pond Press for more information.




One Response

  1. Wally Elton Wally Elton says:

    Thanks for this straight-forward review. Sounds like a worthwhile purchase.