The mountains of Borneo. The trails of northern Pakistan. The depths of the Big Cypress Swamp. Florida Trail founder Jim Kern has roamed far and wide over 50 years of backpacking and hiking as both an avocation and a business, capturing images for magazines and for posterity.
It was a pleasure to hear Jim share a few stories at the FNST Symposium this past weekend in Sanford about the early days of the Florida Trail Association, which he founded.
It was a delight to be among the first to get a copy of his new book, Trail Reflections, and I knew – from interviews I’ve done with Jim over the years – it would be full of great tales from the trails. I was not disappointed. In fact, I couldn’t put it down.
Billed as a coffee table book – and indeed, it’s full of photography of trails from around the world – it’s much more meaningful to those of us who love hiking. In its pages, Jim recounts how he started the Florida Trail Association and the earliest people involved in building the Florida Trail, many of whom are documented through his photos. As FTA membership ages, this is a legacy that would be lost except for this book. He includes copies of some of the earliest correspondence related to the founding of the organization. And not just for the Florida Trail. Jim went on to help found the American Hiking Society and Big City Mountaineers, and documents those endeavors in detail as well. I didn’t know that the story of the American Discovery Trail was intricately woven with that of AHS, with Jim a major part of both efforts. It’s well documented in these pages.
It’s this unique combination of adventure stories – trekking through the jungles of Borneo, sampling the Triple Crown as a day hiker – and images that kept me turning the pages. A self-published book, it’s hefty in size and the price reflects the full color photography captured within, but it’s a must for any backpacker or hiker with a keen interest in the evolution of our sport over the past five decades.
9×11″, 384 pages, 5 lbs. $60 plus postage & handling, unless you can catch Jim at a speaking engagement, where there’s a discount for picking up the book in person.
Order at Kern House Publishing.