Compilation features spot in Williston
Nov. 19, 2009
By Stephanie Choate
Elizabeth Bassett’s book that highlights nature walks for people of all ages and abilities is back on bookstore shelves.
Observer photo by Stephanie Choate
Charlotte author Elizabeth Bassett highlights 42 nature walks, including one in Williston, in her book, ‘Nature Walks in Northwest Vermont and the Champlain Valley.'
“Vermont really is an attractive outdoor environment, and there are a lot of people who hike and bike and ski,” the Charlotte resident said. “There are times of year, day or life when you can’t do those things, but you can almost always take a walk. A walk in a beautiful place is something that almost everyone can enjoy.”
Bassett’s revised and updated edition of her book, “Nature Walks in Northwest Vermont and the Champlain Valley,” was released last month.
The original book, published in 1998 by the Appalachian Mountain Club, or AMC, had been out of print for five years.
“I really wanted this book to get back out there because I feel that the more people appreciate and enjoy the outdoors, the more they will take a feeling of ownership in the state of our outdoors, our environment, our world,” she said.
Although working on getting the book back in print wasn’t feasible in the past few years as she dealt with family health issues, she recently reached a point in her life where it made sense, she said.
The new edition, published by Full Circle Press, includes updated road names and directions, as well as various organizations’ Web sites. Bassett also built her own Web site for the book, www.naturewalksvermont.com, where she has updates about trail conditions, events and more information.
Currently, the book is stocked at The Old Brick Store in Charlotte, The Flying Pig Bookstore in Shelburne, Shelburne Farms and Brown Dog Books and Gifts in Hinesburg. It will soon be in other bookstores across the state.
The book includes a trail at Mud Pond Conservation Land in Williston.
“I was delighted to find a place so lovely and quiet just a stone’s throw from lots of congestion,” Bassett said.
The land has been used for gravel mining, peat extraction, ice harvesting, logging and agriculture. It has one of the only two ponds in the state that has characteristics of both a bog and a fen, two types of wetlands, she said.
The book is more than a list of walking trails, Bassett said.
“This is a description of the journey, and what is interesting about the geology and the flora and the human history,” she said. “This book is designed to give you some knowledge to take with you after the walk that might enhance your future walks.”
The book details 40 trails across northwestern Vermont, as well as two in New York. Bassett said she left out some “wonderful” walks in order to include others that were more ecologically diverse.
“Part of the selection process was really to find as much ecological diversity as I could show in this part of Vermont,” she said. “It isn’t very hard to find a northern forest, but it’s tricky to find a sand plain forest or a bog or vestigial sand dunes.”
Burlington resident Tiffany Bluemle bought the first edition of the book about 10 years ago, and said she uses it every year.
“She kind of opened my eyes to what is right in my own backyard,” Bluemle said.
Bluemle said she often chooses a walk from the book when she has out-of-town visitors. The book has also been a good resource for activities with her young children.
“As our children have grown, the book has grown with them,” she said. “There are more and more challenging hikes throughout the book.”
Bassett said AMC was cooperative in her efforts to republish the book. The organization approached her about writing the first edition of the book, which she said was a “dream phone call.”
Bassett had written about recreation with children for the club’s magazine, “AMC Outdoors,” and already knew a lot about walking trails in the area, she said.
She moved to Vermont when her children, Putnam and Victoria Pane, now 26 and 24, were both under 2.
“I moved to Vermont with two babies, so there was no way I was doing much hiking,” she said.
Bassett walked each trail included in the book at least three times. She mostly walked the trails alone, she said, because if she went with a friend, she ended up focusing on them instead of the trail.
Bassett said she sees the book as “a little bit of a mission.”
“I’m very committed to the beauty that surrounds us, and we can’t take it for granted if we expect it to remain that way,” she said.