reviewed by Tom O'Grady
Last fall I met with Alan Via and discussed one of his upcoming book projects that was almost complete. For those who are unfamiliar with Alan, the first thing you should know about him is that he loves to hike. Hiking has been a passion of his for over forty years. Alan is a multiple ADK 46er and Catskill 3500 member. His circuits in the Adirondacks span both non-winter and winter sessions. Alan also is an avid bushwhacker. For those that do not know this term – bushwhacking is what you do on a hike when there is no official trail. Alan’s hiking adventures led him to writing guidebooks. It was Alan’s familiarity with bushwhacks that made his book The Catskill 67: A Hiker’s Guide to the Catskill 100 Highest Under 3500’ so captivating.
Although it’s apparent from his past writing that Alan enjoys hiking and exploring, you may not be aware that Alan also loves dogs. Dogs have been a mainstay in the Via family and accompany Alan on his hiking adventures. After forty years plus of companionship and the success of The Catskill 67, Alan decided to focus on something he had long wanted to write about – hiking and dogs. That’s how the Doghiker project came about. Doghiker: Great Hikes with Dogs from the Adirondacks through the Catskills is the finished product of Alan’s quest. I had the opportunity to review a copy prior to its publishing on February 21. The first section of the book is dedicated entirely to dogs – dog etiquette, where to find healthy dogs, training your dog to accompany you, protecting your dog on hikes, providing support to your dog if it becomes ill, and proper gear to accompany you and your dog on a hike. From there the book covers seventy-seven different hikes that you can enjoy with your canine companion. Details included in the summaries are standard mileage, elevation, difficulty, and view ratings. In addition to the standard summaries, Alan provides detailed information on each hike’s highlights that are pertinent to you and your dog.
It’s clear from reviewing the book that it is well written. The quality of the book is very good – with high gloss pages and color photographs. This is especially surprising considering how much material is published only in electronic format these days, and the decreasing quality of many print publications. The illustrations alternate between high definition photographs of people hiking with their dogs and hand-drawn pictures of hiking features (and dogs). The maps that accompany the trail descriptions are up to date and were made by a professional cartographer.
Alan’s project was unique, and it was rewarding to get a glance at the finished product prior to it being released. There are many members in HMRRC who have dogs and like to take them out on runs with them. If you are looking to bring your dog on hikes and would like to pick up a quality guidebook, then Doghiker: Great Hikes with Dogs from the Adirondacks through the Catskills is an appropriate book to add to your library. If you do not have a dog but are looking to hike with young children, this book could also serve as an up-to-date guide for those adventures as well. Many of the hikes are suitable for families with young children, and many of the precautions you would take while hiking with a dog are also of special concern with young children.
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Thomas J. O’Grady, Ph.D., M.P.H. (firstname.lastname@example.org) is an avid runner, hiker, and lover of the outdoors.