Today I offer my first book review; Conifer Country; A natural history and hiking guide to 35 conifers of the Klamath Mountain region, by Micheal Kauffmann. It is put out by our very own Backcountry Press who has put out some real neat books in them past few years.
The book is essentially a tree guide with companion hikes for all the species that occur in the region. But unlike most tree guides, which are generally about as exciting as dictionaries, Conifer Country describes each tree in a naturalist style of writing. There is just enough ‘technical’ information to properly identify the trees but the best part is the description of the trees ecology and how they fit into the landscape. This is done very well and makes the guide section fun to read, assuming you are interested in trees.
The author is certainly inspired by John Muir and like Muir, he really captures the essence of the Klamath that one only can obtain by spending significant time there. This is evident in the writing and I get the sense that the author is truly in love with these mountains and trees.
Confer Country is a great book for hikers and naturalists, beginners or veterans alike. Even if you are experienced in the area, you may just find several bits of interesting information that you did not know about the Klamath. I sure did! As a forester, I read technical writing all the time and while I of course enjoy the scientific aspect of things, I have always found great peace in naturalist writing.
If you are a follower of my blog and/or live in this area, i guarantee you will not be disappointed with this book. I have heard from one or two people that the hiking guide has pointed out a few peoples ‘secret’ spots, but I have always believed that when it comes to hiking back country, anyone who is willing to go to these remote places is probably someone I wont mind running into.
Be sure to check out Conifer Country online for Micheal Kauffmann’s blog. He also posts digital versions of the maps in the book that you can download after you buy the book – which is a pretty awesome idea.
I will also plug my favorite book store: Eureka Books. This bookstore has a whole section devoted to local books, and often you can find signed copied. Go there and get Conifer Country today!
A Douglas-fir forest that was harvested this summer near Orleans, CA.
Some pictures from this years trip to the Salmon River.
Salmon River Road is awe inspiring. And a little sketchy…
Vegitation scorched from the fires in 2013.
Mine tailings. Its amazing how the legecy effects of mining from the 1850s is still visible.
More piles of rocks from the historic mining.
A healthy ecosystem. When fire is a regular part of the forest, its more difficult to see the negative impacts of the fire. Indeed most of the effects of fire are positive, from fuel maintenance to snag development.
Here are some pictures from earlier this year on the Salmon. I guess its silly to call out my “favorite” river at this point, since I love them all. The Salmon is truly amazing, unique, and far away! Due to its remoteness, you wont see very many people out there. All of these pictures I took along the bluffs between the 96 and Nordenhamer.
AKA Cephalanthera austiniae
Big spider cruising along in the mountains near Orleans. Its pretty amazing how fast these guys move. I chased it for 10 or more feet before it finally hunkered down and let me take its picture.
In all its glory. Still in the Klamath, where old growth hardwood trees are very common. Know your land! If you value old growth trees, dont let young Douglas-fir shade them out.
Once of the coolest tree “flowers”. This time of year the 96 is chalk full of dogwood blossoms.
Fox hole? Hardwood trees really do seem to make the best cavities. I am always on the lookout for mammals or even bats, which must live in some of these goose pens.
From my naturalist point of view, I believe over time the exclusion of fire is having a profound impact on forest mammals, especially cavity nesters like the Pacific Fisher or porcupine. The Pacific fisher is currently a ‘candidate’ to be placed on the State Endangered Species Lists. Seen one lately? Porcupines?
All of the larger cavities I come across are fire scared. And I get the impression that numerous fires over decades if not a century or two formed them. Now without fire, there is very little recruitment for fire formed cavities, which really puts pressure on the ones that do exist. Its a shame that the vast majority of cavities I see are in the form of large hardwood trees, generally on the verge of collapse from being over topped by Douglas-fir.