Book Review: Eastern Alpine Guide

Book Review: Eastern Alpine Guide

Eastern Alpine Guide coverHave you ever wondered how rime ice forms? Or why krummholz grows the way it does? Can you tell when hoary rock moss has a case of white worm lichen? Did you know Mt. Washington’s Great Gulf is the largest alpine cirque in New England? The major mountains of Maine were once dubbed the Longfellow Mountains? Or that a caribou herd lived on Katahdin until the early 1900s?

If any of these questions have piqued your curiosity, then the Eastern Alpine Guide, Natural History and Conservation of Mountain Tundra East of the Rockies, is for you. Written and edited by M.T. Jones and L.L. Willey, the book contains original contributions from numerous scientists and naturalists.

For hikers and outdoor enthusiasts, the Eastern Alpine Guide is an encyclopedia of knowledge regarding the formation, geology, climate, vegetation and fauna of our favorite terrain in the Canadian Shield and Northern Appalachian Mountains. There are chapters focusing on New England’s Mount Washington and the Presidential Range as well as Katahdin; Quebec’s Mont Albert and the Monts Chic-ChocsMont Jacques-Cartier and the Monts McGerrigle, Monts Groulx, and Monts Otish; Newfoundland’s Southern Long Range Mountains, Bay of IslandsGros MorneNorthern Long Range Mountains, and the Highlands of St. John; and Labrador’s Mealy Mountains.

With nearly 350 pages the book is too big and heavy to serve as a backpack companion; however, it is well illustrated, enabling hikers to identify plant life, birds, spiders and frogs from photos taken along the trail. The entire work was written with an eye toward conservation without coming across as preachy or alarmist. The result is an information-rich guide that allows readers to deepen their understanding of these mountainous zones while ideally building a greater appreciation for alpine scarcity. In the authors’ own words:

“Our thesis in this book has been that the alpine mountains of eastern North America are sufficiently rare and demonstrably important to biodiversity conservation to be worthy of protection wherever they occur. The East lacks the embarrassment of alpine riches found in the West. Our scattered alpine tundra is of the heirloom variety—ancient and unique.”

All proceeds from Eastern Alpine Guide sales support Beyond Ktaadn, a non-profit organization aiming to advance scientific research and general public awareness of alpine biodiversity in eastern North America. The Eastern Alpine Guide may be purchased online or from select bookstores.

1 comment

Thanks, Daren. I’ve started reading and I’m sure will learn much as well as enjoy much. On the back cover a quote from Bill McKibben would be exactly appropriate for me to say, too, “What a gift to mountain lovers.”

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