When I used to take my now nearly-adult spawn to the supermarket I would find surprising items in the cart at the checkout counter. Did I really take those packs of gum? Hey, wait, I don’t chew gum. Perhaps the magic shopping fairy of a bygone time had come out of retirement for a reunion tour. That is the only way I can explain how this book came to be in my stack. The title does not give it away. “Explore! Glacier National Park and Montana’s Flathead Valley” was a wonderfully specific title for the trip the wife and I planned for 2010. The first part of that adventure included Glacier National Park. A drive through the Flathead Valley area to Missoula was step two. But the large quote on the back should have sent up a flare: “Falcon Guides point the compass to the best spots to play, climb, hike, fish, and be.” The “be” part I have down. I have been for a long time and expect to continue be-ing for a while yet. I have even been known to play, but playing is usually limited to Sudoku, crosswords, spider and mind games.
Climbing consists mostly of climbing out of bed .Walking is what I have to do to get from here to there. Struggling is what I do after a few minutes of walking. I would love to hike and have done some in an earlier life, but my bones are at least ten years older than the rest of me and the rest of me is no kid. So for me, a travel book that focuses on hiking is as useful as a color wheel at The Lighthouse.
If you are an outdoorsy type, this guide may be a useful resource for you. If you love to hike, ski, mountain-bike, camp out, or engage in publicly acceptable activities that burn measurable numbers of calories, this book is meant for you. As for me, alas. For when 6 or 8 mile hikes are termed “easy” because, I guess, they do not involve rappelling, the book has fallen into hands well outside its intended demographic. On the upside, that makes it a fast read when one can skip entire chapters. I suspect that even for its target audience this small volume might be a bit thin. An appendix lists photo-ops of such a general nature as to be worthless. For instance, we are advised to stop at the pull-outs on the Going to the Sun Road, possibly the most beautiful stretch of road in the country. Well, gee, do ya think? Specifying locations worth a look is useful when information is added, such as time of year, time of day, where to situate oneself to gain the best or an unusual view. That is not offered here.
Overall, this is a look at the region, not a where-to-stay, where-to-eat directory with commentary, which is fine. For you outdoors types the insight offered on hiking, rafting, mountain biking, mountain climbing, et al, by such seasoned park veterans could be very useful. There is also a very informative section on the National Bison Range. It is not a bad book. It was just a bad call by a shopping fairy who should probably return to a well-deserved retirement.