When I moved to Utah almost six years ago it was for the love of the snow, not the backcountry. I soon found out that I would be missing out if I was only getting after it for half the year, so of course I rekindled my passion for all things outdoors. Lucky for me I fell in with a group of adventure junkies who knew the lay of the land. As time has gone by we’ve ticked many of the Utah classics off the list, and now we are searching for remote or lesser traveled places to explore. But how do you find those places? What if you don’t know anyone who’s been there before? Where do you go to get the beta? Duh- the local libray, dummy!
Salt Lake City has a gorgeous library. Sure, it’s often overrun with transients reeking of that good old sour milk and booze aroma but that doesn’t mean it’s not a great place to hang out for a few hours. The 4th floor of the library has become sort of a shrine to me. I first started hanging on 4 because of the great collection of adventure stories: tales of Everest, Africa, Alaska and Yosemite mixed with volumes of how to guides. I have checked out many of these tomes and they have helped foster my love of the outdoors.
But the real treat on 4 is the travel reference section. There is a wealth of information waiting to be discovered at the low, low price of FREE. I first found my favorite Utah guide book (Utah’s Wilderness Areas by Lynna Howard) on the shelves there. I found amazing picture guides through the remote areas of the desert, and books dedicated to giving you the details on how to get there.
Last week I was blown away when I discovered the 5th edition of Michael R. Kelsey’s “Non-Technical Canyon Hiking Guide to the Colorado Plateau.” The title is a mouthful and so is the the wealth of info it contains… and the updated edition has full color photos. Nothing better to get my dreaming of my next trip than seeing some of the sights in living color. Yes, I may be a complete geek when it comes to this kind of thing, but I’m finally old enough not to care any more. Just when I thought it couldn’t get better I got my biggest dose of library euphoria yet: maps.
Hiding just out of sight on 4 is a map section. Not just any map section, either: topo maps! The drawers contain literally every topographical map for the state… this was a huge coup for a map geek. I was blown away, and even more tickled when I discovered you can check out an almost limitless supply. Heaven for a beta junky.
If you walked into my house right now you’d find any number of these source materials scattered on tables or chairs, flipped to a very specific page helping plan the next trip. The guide books on the shelves are waiting to be opened and exploited… soon enough they will all be put to use. Where are we going? What are we going to see? I’d like to say everything, but for now anyone who’s got the Egypt 7.5 map has a pretty good idea about my immediate destination. Next time you get to wondering what your next adventure should be, just head on down to the library and check out the 4th floor. You’ll be well on your way to the next big trip… if you don’t get lost up there.