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Field reports: Grandma’s hiking tale tops Outdoor books

READING – They call her Grandma Gatewood, who in the 1950s became the first woman to hike the entire 2,000-mile Appalachian Trail. Then she did it again, becoming the first person – man or woman – to hike it twice. 

And then for good measure, she hiked it a third time.

A new book about the woman, “Grandma Gatewood’s Walk,” by Ben Montgomery, was named this week as the history-biography category prize winner in the 2014 National Outdoor Book Awards.

The awards program is sponsored by the National Outdoor Book Awards Foundation, Idaho State University and the Association of Outdoor Recreation and Education.

“Small Feet, Big Land” by Erin McKittrick won the Outdoor Literature category for its story about her family and their experiences in Alaska. 

McKittrick, her husband Hig, and her two children live in a 450-square foot yurt near Seldovia in the south-central portion of the state when they’re not to remote Arctic villages or camping for two months atop one of the world’s largest glaciers. 

“It’s a beautifully written account,” said Ron Watters, chairman of the awards program.  “It is, quite simply, what exceptional outdoor literature is all about: an honest, perceptive, and graceful account of life close to nature.” 

“Life on the Rocks,” written and photographed by wildlife biologist Bruce L. Smith, won two awards for environmental topics and design. The book details mountain goats: their habitat, life cycle, behavior, and the challenges they face in an Alpine environment. 

See a list of the other winners, including children’s books, at

Big box stores go toe-to-toe on West side

SHOPPING – The battle of the big box outdoors stores has begun in Western Washington.

A Bass Pro Shops store in Tacoma recently opened to compete for shoppers with the Cabela’s outlet 30 minutes away in Lacey.

Both retailers tout their locations as more than just stores. The Bass Pro Shops manager uses the term “retailtainment” to define how such stores use entertainment to keep customers in the stores longer.

Both stores have restaurants and large fish tanks. Bass Pro Shops also has a fish-themed bowling alley while Cabela’s has a shooting gallery.

Traditional small independent retailers are watching with interest.

In reporting the Bass Pro Shops opening, the Tacoma Tribune quoted a 2012 study done in Salt Lake City. The study found that small independent retailers return 52 percent of their revenue to the local economy while national chain retailers returned 14 percent.

Telluride film fest coming to Sandpoint

VIEWING – Outdoor films with a message are coming to Sandpoint on Thursday.

The Telluride Mountainfilm on Tour featuring a variety of outdoor pursuits and an environmental theme will start 7 p.m. at the Panida Theater.

Advance tickets are for $10 online,

The show features 11 films. Proceeds will benefit the Idaho Conservation League.

Info:  (208) 265-9565.

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