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Books by Our Staff

We'd like to introduce you to some great books by our writer-in-residence, Ron Watters. Ron has been with the Idaho State University Outdoor Adventure Center (Outdoor Program) for many years. He puts a lot of tender loving care and long hours of research into his books, and he works hard to make them visually appealing, useable, accurate, and fun to read. For information about purchasing these books, visit Ron's website.

Guide to Idaho Paddling: Flatwater and Easy Whitewater Trips

Finally a book for the rest of us! There are plenty of books on Idaho rivers for advanced whitewater river runners, but this book, covering nearly 100 different river segments, is one that can be enjoyed by the whole family. This is the first comprehensive guide on Idaho rivers which covers the state's flatwater and easy whitewater river runs. There are no death defying rapids here, just great laid-back trips down easy-going streams, and fun whitewater on exciting but safe and sane rivers. All the rivers in this book can be done in an open canoe, but are also suitable for kayaks, inflatables and drift boats.

Katherine Daly and Ron Watters were the perfect team to write this book. Experienced river runners and outdoor writers, they put a lot of loving care into this book. The maps are works of art: accurate, understandable and usable on the river. Thr included mileage charts are invaluable for pinpointing location while running the river. To make the book easy-to-use, they incorporated symbols which quickly encapsulate the river's difficulty, condition of access roads, surrounding terrain, and other features of the river. The text is also supplemented with exquisite photography, and there's information on fishing, wildlife, seasons, water levels, boat ramps, scenic attractions and much more.


Never Turn Back: The Life of Whitewater Pioneer Walt Blackadar

NEVER TURN BACK is the gripping and compelling life story of Dr. Walt Blackadar, a physician from a small town in Idaho. At the age of 49, he shocked the outdoor world when he made a solo kayak journey down the treacherous rapids of Turnback Canyon on the remote and wild Alsek River in Canada and Alaska. Blackadar's accomplishment on Turnback Canyon was the river equivalent of the first ascent of Everest, and when excerpts from his Alsek journal were published in Sports Illustrated, he became an instant sensation. He was at the top of his sport at an age when most athletes are long retired.

Blackadar's spectacular rise suddenly veered wildly off course when a young woman tragically died on one of his kayaking expeditions. Heartbroken over her death and plagued with mounting physical problems, his kayaking technique began to deteriorate. Yet he had a spirit that was irrepressible, and putting himself in a race against his body's clock, he sought out and faced off against the world's most formidable whitewater.

Blackadar's story is powerful and uplifting. It is the story of the human spirit facing and overcoming great odds.

Joining book reviewers in praise for the book are outdoor authorities such as World Whitewater Champion Barb Wright: `A work of art!'

"This fascinating and masterfully written book is considered one of the outdoor world's finest works. The Los Angeles Daily News awarded NEVER TURN BACK their highest rating for a book: `It's the best thing to come across this reviewer's desk in recent memory,' wrote Brett Pauly of the News.
`Bully for Watters!' said the San Francisco Chronicle about author Ron Watters' wonderfully told story. William Bushnell of the Library Research Associates called it: `Magnificent...told with sparkling clarity...truly inspirational.' "
-Books In Print

The Outdoor Programming Handbook

Although the field of outdoor education has changed much since the book was written in the mid 1980s, it still contains useful information for those setting up programs. Largely designed for nonprofit outdoor recreation programs, it covers: liability, outdoor programming history, facilities and resources, funding and budgeting, promotion and advertising, disabled programming, goal formulation, personnel, outdoor trips, rental centers, evaluation of programs and military recreation.

"It does cover the basics, but with depth, conciseness and clarity one rarely sees in books covering such critical topics as outdoor liability and funding."
--Rod Neubert, Calpoly, San Luis Obispo, The Bulletin of the Association of College Unions--International.

"The Outdoor Program Handbook is a valuable resource for coordinators of outdoor programming centers."
--Valerie Wetzel, Campus Activities Programming

Ski Camping: A Guide to the Delights of Backcountry Skiing

Ski Camping is a beautifully photographed book about camping and skiing in the backcountry. Topics covered include planning, equipment, clothing, food, trail techniques, skiing techniques, snow camping, winter shelters, route finding and winter hazards.

It has become a classic outdoor instructional book and is one of the most well received skiing books ever published. Here's what the reviewers have to say:

“This enticing book is for you who crave to ski where you make the first track, and stay out overnight as well. There are other books on this subject, but none so well done and so easily understood. Nordic skiing has been one of my favorite enterprises for 25 years, and this is the nicest introduction to that delight I’ve seen.”
J. Baldwin, Next Whole Earth Catalog

“A splendid book with dramatic layout and striking photographs. A treasury of tips.”
Lito Tejada Flores, Backcountry Skiing

“A delightful book. I kept looking for faults but came up empty handed. The array of information is vast.”
Eric Evans, Nordic Skiing

“One of the most expansively and graphically exquisite winter travel books ever put together.”
Ski X-C

If you'd like a copy of the handbook, it's available directly from the Outdoor Adventure Center. The cost is $25 (plus $2 postage).

Winter Tales and Trails: Skiing, Snowshoeing, and Snowboarding in Idaho, The Grand Tetons, and Yellowstone National Park

Winter Tales and Trails is a guidebook "Bible" to cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, snowboarding, and backcountry skiing in Idaho, the Tetons, and Yellowstone National Park. Backcountry aficionados will find this book invaluable with its beautifully done aerial illustrations detailing snowboard and backcountry ski routes of some of the best terrain in the west. The book is filled with stories, honoring and retracing the rich traditions of western winter travel. And, to top it off, it has been carefully and lovingly designed which is obvious by its pleasing graphics, easy-to-use maps, enticing photography, and overall visual appeal. All in all, this is truly a model guidebook.

For over 20 years, the author, Ron Watters, has been exploring, writing, and collecting information about winter recreation in this beautiful corner of the west. He knows his topic, and he knows how to strike a balance, including information on easy-going and safe trails for beginners and families as well as challenging areas for experienced backcountry users.
Moreover, he is a wonderful story teller, drawing from his own experiences and from those of long ago. It's a lively, fun and informative book and a must for anyone who loves the western winter.

Online Books

Dancing with the Bear

This is a wonderful online book about the travels and explorations of a team of kayakers in Russia and the central Asian republics. It's about more than just kayaking--it's about Russia's people and culture.

"What we did," wrote Liam, "was travel in Russia and the Central Asian republics at a time when the dust caused by the breakup of the USSR had still not settled and the Central Asian republics were struggling to find their feet. Unlike the journeys described in most travel books about Russia, we did not travel as guests of the state, chaperoned by nervous officials, nor did we travel as individuals only able to make random contact with passing strangers. We traveled with a group of Russian rafters whose attitude to the rules is best described as indifferent. In Moscow and St.Petersberg, living as guests of these hospitable people, we were able to see some of the reality of life in modern Russia."

Liam is talented writer, an acute observer, and has produced a wonderful book. Thanks to Liam's generosity, you can enjoy this book free on our web site. Click here to read the book.

South Fork of the Salmon River: Wild and Free

Another wonderful online book. . . Written by Jerry Dixon, South Fork Wild and Free is a personal story of a hidden Idaho treasure. Come along with Jerry on kayaking, skiing and fire fighting adventures. Learn about the South Fork's history and ecology. This online book is complete with maps and photographs, and it's available free on our website! Click here to read the book.