The Vail Hiker and Ski Touring Guide: 50 Historic Hiking, Snowshoe, and Ski Trails in Eagle County, the Holy Cross, and Gore Range Wilderness Areas
Name: John R. Waters
Height: 5'9" (1.7 m)
Weight: 178 lb (81 kg)
Email Address: exec@...
City, State, Country: White Lake, MI USA
Date: February 23, 2005
My backpacking experience is limited to the last couple of years, hiking primarily in Michigan and Colorado. In Michigan, I do day (and night) hikes of 6 miles (10 km) to 8 miles (13 km) a couple times a week in Pontiac Lake Recreation area with weekend hikes in various other southeast Michigan locales. Our twice-a-year vacations are usually in Eagle County, Colorado where we hike the mountains of Vail Valley in the summer and snowshoe in the winter. .
I tend towards the lightest pack possible - under 12 lbs. (5 k), but of course, that is day hiking. I hope to start overnight hiking this summer and am aiming for a light to ultra -weight pack.
Title: The Vail Hiker and Ski Touring Guide: 50 Historic Hiking, Snowshoe, and Ski Trails in Eagle County, the Holy Cross, and Gore Range Wilderness Areas
Author: Mary Ellen Gilliland
Ten maps are printed from TOPO!, copyright 2001 National Geographic Holdings
Printing: May 2001, Third edition, revised and expanded (a new edition was issued in 2004)
Publisher: Alpenrose Press
PO Box 499
Silverthorne, CO 80498-0499
970-468-4273 or 800-579-1179
Size: 122 pages, spiral bound, soft cover, 0.5 x 6.2 x 9.2 inches (1.3 x 15.7 x 23.4 cm)
Weight: 8.8 oz (249 g)
Library of Congress Catalog Card Number: 96-84848
MSRP: $17.95 US
Availability: The Vail Hiker can be ordered by phone directly from the publisher by phone or by mail. Send your check for $17.95 plus $2.50 postage and handling to the above listed address. Be sure to include your shipping information. An order form can be found at and printed from the publishers' website. Phone orders are filled the same day. Autographed copies are available.
General Description: The Vail Hiker and Ski Touring Guide: 50 Historic Hiking, Snowshoe, and Ski Trails in Eagle County, the Holy Cross, and Gore Range Wilderness Areas is the definitive trail guide to the Vail Valley area including trails from as far east as Minturn to as far west as Gypsum, Colorado. A long-time resident of Silverthorne, Colorado (across the Pass), author Mary Ellen Gilliland has hiked each trail herself, most of them more than once. Her personal experience shows in the accuracy and detail of the trails descriptions. These are all day hikes; however, some information is given for combining various trails for overnight hikes.
The Vail Hiker is spiral bound so it will lay flat and can be "folded" in half for ease in using. Its small size makes it possible to be wedged into a stash pocket in even my smallest daypack where the guide is always in a handy position for immediate use.
There are actually two tables of contents, the first grouping is by geographical location and the second grouping is by difficulty level, which is further divided into hiking and snowshoe tour categories.
Also included in the introductory section of the guide are tips, explanation of terms used, and a fold out topographical map of the whole area being discussed.
Each trail is printed on two facing pages, which makes The Vail Guide very easy to use. At the beginning of each trail description, seven points are highlighted: time, distance, elevation gain, high point, rating, seasonal opening/closing and topo. After this header, several paragraphs describing flora and fauna, information about the terrain and area history, and suggestions and directions for the hike follow. Pictures and topo maps are also included for each trail.
I've been using The Vail Hiker and Ski Touring Guide: 50 Historic Hiking, Snowshoe, and Ski Trails in Eagle County, the Holy Cross, and Gore Range Wilderness for over 3 years now and have covered a great many of the listed trails. The wire-bound spiral book has held up admirably after being stuffed here and there in my backpack for well over 2 dozen hikes. The glossy heavyweight paperback front and back covers are a little worse for the wear, having gotten dropped into snow/dirt and rained-on but are still more than adequately protective. Waterproof covers would be nice, but a zip-lock baggie works while in transit, at least.
The accuracy of the trails can be summed up with just one phrase - "I never got lost"! The elements of time, distance, elevation gain, etc. I found to be right on target, but I constantly have to check the author's explanation of terms for time and distance. For whatever reason, the author chooses to estimate time as round-trip and distance as one-way which I found very confusing. It would be helpful for both measurements to be consistent.
The individual topographical maps are too small to be of any real use, but do give a general idea of the trail. However with Gilliland's almost lyrical prose and accurate description, I don't find the lack of "real" maps to be a hindrance.
The Vail Hiker and Ski Touring Guide: 50 Historic Hiking, Snowshoe, and Ski Trails in Eagle County, the Holy Cross, and Gore Range Wilderness is an excellent guide, most likely, the only guide needed for day hiking in the Vail Valley.
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