Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Holiday gift ideas

There are piles of maps on my desk, and even with the ever-increasing availability of online materials, I will keep collecting and using paper maps. My copy of the 10th edition of A Rambler's Guide to the Trails of Mt. Tamalpais and Muir Woods is treasured, even more so now that Gerald Olmsted (who made the map) has passed away -- there will be no more editions like his. Here are some new(ish) maps you may want to add to your collection, or gift a map-loving friend.

Mount Diablo, Los Vaqueros, and Surrounding Parks, by Save Mount Diablo
This huge waterproof map is a massive boon for hikers exploring Mount Diablo State Park, Los Vaqueros, and the East Bay Regional parks in the area, including Black Diamond Mines and Morgan Territory. It will spoil you for all other maps. A must have. Copyright 2012.

Mt Tam Trail Map, by Tom Harrison Maps
Includes all of Mount Tamalpais and a bit of land north of Fairfax-Bolinas Road; the map's southern border is the northern part of the Marin Headlands. Very nice detail and on waterproof paper. Copyright 2011. Harrison makes other Marin County maps, but this is the one I use the most.

Point Reyes National Seashore, by Tom Harrison Maps
My favorite Point Reyes map, this also includes Samuel P. Taylor trails. Copyright 2011. Harrison, who's based in San Rafael, also makes great maps for other parts of California.

The Walker's Map of San Francisco, by Pease Press
I use the second edition of this map, copyright 2012, constantly for San Francisco hikes, plus it includes San Bruno Mountain and most of the Marin Headlands. San Francisco cartographer Ben Pease has several other awesome bay area maps in his stable.

Books feel very personal to me, and I don't commonly give them unless I am somewhat certain they will be happily received. Of course, I would be thrilled to know that you might consider gifting my book, 60 Hikes in 60 Miles: San Francisco!

I did not read any new hiking or bay area books this past year that I would recommend (Wild, by Cheryl Strayed, which got raves, left me tepid), with the exception of San Francisco Bay Shoreline Guide. The second edition of this guide is a wonderful mix of natural history, maps, photos, and tips to enjoy the San Francisco Bay Trail to its fullest. A great idea for folks just starting out hiking, since the Bay Trail is mostly flat and well-signed.

I do have Room to Breathe, by the Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District on my holiday wishlist. It looks gorgeous but I haven't seen it in person yet.


One of my favorites from the past year, a still life on Cataract Trail
  • Print and share a photo from a favorite hike.
  • Parks passes. I have a San Mateo County pass since I frequent San Pedro and San Bruno Mountain parks. Santa Clara County and Sonoma County offer them as well. California State Parks passes are pricey, but worth it if you visit enough of them each year (or the same one over and over). The National Parks pass is a bargain.
  • Socks -- still love my Smartwools!
  • Water bottles. Can you ever have enough of them?
  • Homemade energy bars. Or fantastic chocolate. Or Cowgirl Creamery cheese. Or wine. Or coffee.
  • The Lands End Visitor Center has a wide assortment of books, maps, and fun gifts associated with the area, like Golden Gate Bridge-colored scarves. The gorgeous new building is adjacent to Lands End.
  • When money is no object, electronic gadgets are always fun. I've had my eye on this GPS, but I can't quite get over the price. For everyday hiking (and all the most recent photos on Bay Area Hiker) I carry this waterproof camera. It's small and works great (although the macro mode is finicky). 
  • A reader on my Facebook page suggested donating to your favorite land management agency in honor of a loved one. A great idea.
  • Make a photo book of your most memorable hiking moments. I make my son one of these books every year for his birthday, using Picaboo. Shutterfly is another option.
  • Make a commitment to hiking safety. Hiker Alert is probably more than you need for bay area day hikes, but consider this system if you or someone on your holiday gift list likes to backpack or travel in more remote areas. With Hiker Alert you input your details (car make and model, your photo, your destination, etc.) on their website, share the document with your peeps, and if you fail to contact your family or friends at the end of your journey, Hiker Alert can contact the local authorities to begin a search. It's not something to take lightly (wouldn't work for those who would be prone to "forget" to check in), but I see Hiker Alert as a thoughtful gift, particularly from a parent to an active child.

The greatest gift of all
Time! Spend no money at all, instead make a commitment to spend more time hiking and exploring with your friends and family. Create healthy traditions that you will always remember and cherish. One of my family's favorite activities during late December-early January is a hike at San Pedro County Park in Pacifica, where we revel in the blooming manzanitas. You and yours might pick a waterfall, forest, or other special hike as your annual holiday destination. Or consider spending time together volunteering at your favorite park/preserve.

Happy holidays!

Disclosure: I received a copy of the Bay Trail guide for review, but paid for everything else mentioned here. The nice people at Hiker Alert have permitted me to try their system for free, which I have not yet done.


Adventure Strong said...

Who couldn't use great trail maps? :) I have the 60 Hikes books for Portland, Oregon. It's handy and has solid descriptions of the trails.

I'd also like to get one of those Spot GPS units that can track your route and also call for help.

Good holiday list!

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