Mud season – Maine’s fifth season – will be here before you know it, and given this whopper of a winter, it promises to be a good one. So when the March rains arrive, the snow melt begins in earnest, the roads have gone soft and the trails are unreachable, take shelter and find solace in a good book. Here are a few that you’ll find enjoyable:

“Field Guide to the New England Alpine Summits: Mountaintop Flora and Fauna in Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont” by Nancy Slack and Allison Bell (Appalachian Mountain Club, 192 pp., $19.95)

New England’s peaks are home to an amazing variety of plant life, from the colorful diapensia, Lapland rosebay, Alpine azalea and moss campion to sedges, grasses, mosses, lichens, and a host of trees and shrubs. Hardy birds, mammals, amphibians and insects also make their living in this fragile and often harsh environment, where the balance between life and death is delicate. Color images and informative text lead the reader on a fascinating ecological journey from the trailhead through the forest zones to treeline and above to study life from Katahdin’s tablelands to the Presidentials to Mount Mansfield.

“50 Best Hikes in New England” by Marty Basch (Countryman Press, 256 pp., $19.95)

This guidebook offers hikers a balanced selection of trails across all New England states. Mainers will likely be familiar with most or all of the 10 hikes in the Pine Tree State; it’s the other 40 that should get your traveling juices flowing for some across-the-border exploring on less familiar terrain. From the Walkabout Trail in Rhode Island and Devil’s Hopyard State Park in Connecticut to Wachusett Mountain in Massachusetts to Vermont’s Green Mountains and the Whites of New Hampshire, Basch seeks out the best. Each hike is described in detail and includes a color map, a photo and trailhead GPS coordinates.

“Following Their Footsteps: A Travel Guide & History of the 1775 Secret Expedition to Capture Quebec” by Stephen Clark (Clark Books, 150 pp., $24.95)


Stephen Clark of Scarborough knows more about the ill-fated attempt by Gen. Benedict Arnold and 1,100 American troops to wrest control of Quebec from the British early in the Revolutionary War than perhaps any Mainer alive today. This treasure trove of information features detailed history documented side-by-side with the relevant travel information for the route from Cambridge, Massachusetts, to Quebec City. Also included are canoe routes, great appendices and a beautiful set of color maps. An eminently readable and highly interesting guidebook.

“How to Build an Igloo and Other Snow Shelters” by Norbert Yankielun (Norton, 152 pp., $17.95)

Snow shelters aren’t just for Arctic inhabitants or serious survival situations, but rather can be a lot of fun for the backyard or backcountry right here in Maine. This book provides guidance and plans for constructing a wide variety of snow shelters, from igloos, quinzees and slab shelters to drift caves, spruce traps and expedient shelters. Yankielun also discusses the science of snow, winter safety, the simple building tools required and camping out. Packed with great illustrations, beginners and experienced winter adventurers alike will enjoy this fine book.

“No Limits But the Sky: The Best Mountaineering Stories From Appalachia Journal,” edited by Christine Woodside (Appalachian Mountain Club, 266 pp., $18.95)

This tremendous collection of mountaineering essays ranges from New England to Alaska, the Alps to Africa, and Patagonia to the Himalayas over a span of 136 years from 1877 to 2013, tracing the evolutionary changes of American mountain climbing along the way. All have appeared in “Appalachia,” the longest-running journal of mountaineering and conservation in America. Whether you’re an armchair mountaineer or a die-hard climber or somewhere in between, you’re going to have a few very enjoyable hours settled down with this terrific anthology.

Carey Kish of Southwest Harbor is the author of AMC’s “Best Day Hikes Along the Maine Coast.” Follow Carey’s adventures in his Maineiac Outdoors blog at:

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