Book of the Week
Christina Selby asserts that her new all-ages guidebook “New Mexico Family Outdoor Adventure” is not intended to cover everything you can do outside.
Rather, Selby bills it as a “curated guide,” containing the best of her family’s outdoor adventures over more than 12 years. That still gives you a ton of activities that she, her husband Taylor, and their sons Oscar and Clayton have experienced.
The adventures, some enjoyed year-round, are geared to weekends. Or better, long weekends.
The book speaks to kids (and even accompanying adults) who are new to the outdoors.
Initially, there are easy outdoor activities like bird watching and wildlife viewing and tracking. Why bird watching?
“First of all, a love of birds gets kids outdoors … An interest in birds can be a child’s first step to falling in love with biology and other sciences. Also a love of birds may spill over into a desire to protect the wild spaces in which birds live,” Selby writes. “Keep it fun.”
That direction is followed by her “best” bird watching sites for kids, including the Rio Grande Nature Center State Park in Albuquerque, Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge near Socorro and the Gila Riparian Preserve near the towns of Gila and Cliff.
Among Selby’s top wildlife viewing sites are Valles Caldera National Preserve in the Jemez Mountains, Sugarite Canyon State Park near Raton, and Wild Spirit Wolf Sanctuary near Ramah.
The book quickly moves beyond the observational to the physical, detailing such popular activities as hiking, camping, fishing, climbing, paddling, mountain biking and cross country skiing.
Some of those subjects are prefaced with good suggestions on prepping, like buying the proper fishing gear, visiting climbing gyms, contacting outfitters for paddling, climbing or biking adventures.
Hiking is in the spotlight early in the book with a list of more than 50 hikes. That comes immediately before two facing pages of New Mexico Family Adventure Sites – 85 sites in all, followed by a map pointing to where those sites are. That’s a hefty amount of information and there’s lots more.
The introduction advises the reader to choose the right trip for the kids. Make sure the initial adventure is not too difficult for children, or adults.
“If you’re uncertain how far children, grandparents or you, for that matter, can go or how long they will last, better to choose something short and easy, or take a small bit out of a bigger adventure to start,” Selby writes.
The sites are on many types of public land, such as national forests, national monuments, wilderness areas, wildlife management areas, national recreation areas, national grasslands, state parks, as well as historic sites, rivers, reservoirs, lakes, hot springs and mountains.
The guidebook gives a snapshot on accessing sites. Snapshots contain the phone number, website, nearest town, best season to visit, visitor information and how to get there. Some sites denote wheelchair accessibility.
The introduction has tips for taking along what Selby calls “an adventure pack.” It can include materials for bark or stone rubbings, but also practical items – binoculars, a knife or multitool, a magnifying glass, a notebook, pen or pencil, walking sticks.
The intro also offers basic principles of “wilderness ethics,” meaning visitor behavior: Take only pictures’ carry out your trash and others” if you build it, take it down’ stay on the trail’ prepare for the weather and the elements’ and don’t feed the animals, in fact, learn how to act around them.
The book references “resources for equity in the outdoors” by being welcoming, inclusive and accessible to all people, Selby writes. Listed are websites of organizations with that objective. Among them are outdoorafro.com, latinooutdoors.org and melaninbasecamp.com.
Climate change is briefly addressed. Selby writes that the “next several generations will confront the dire environmental and climate challenges” that are currently being dealt with.
“For me,” she said in a phone interview, “the challenge we face with climate change is the root cause of our disconnection from nature.”
Selby, a Santa Fe resident, made an observation in the introduction that seems to be a fitting concluding comment on family outdoor adventures: “The rewards of sharing positive experiences with your children in nature will last a lifetime and build a foundation for your next trip.”
Selby also wrote the book “Best Wildflower Hikes New Mexico.”