Why did you write these hiking guides?
I’ve always loved the outdoors. Ever since I was a little kid I was outside exploring the streams, pastures, and hills where I grew up outside of Anderson, just south of Redding. I hiked extensively in far Northern California in my teens and twenties, especially in the Trinity Alps. When I finished my master’s degree at UC Davis, I decided I wanted to be a writer. So it was natural that I would turn to writing about hiking.
For whom are your books intended?
Both books are suitable for all types of hikers. Each contains extended backpacking trips for the experienced trail enthusiast in good condition. Most of the hikes, though, are day-hikes suitable for most people. Each hike is rated easy, moderate, or strenuous, so you have no problem finding a trail that suits your needs.
How up-to-date are the books?
I thoroughly updated 100 Classic Hikes in Northern California, third edition, in the summer of 2007. Rangers and trail supervisors reviewed all the hikes, and I incorporated their changes. I also re-hiked many of the trails and took new photos.
The same process happened for 75 Hikes in California’s Mount Shasta and Lassen Volcanic National Park Regions, revised edition, in the summer of 2005.
How do we find more information about the hikes?
Both books have an appendix with agency street addresses, phone numbers, and web addresses. The information in these appendices is also on the Links page.
Why is The Mountaineers Books a great publisher of outdoors books?
They are one of the largest publishers in the world of books about the outdoors. They publish a lot of guides, but also how-to books. They specialize in mountaineering and feature books by many of the world’s most famous climbers, including Reinhold Messner.
What other types of writing do you do?
I’ve written several dozen hiking and outdoors articles for various newspapers and magazines, including Sunset and VIA.
The bulk of my work for the last 15 years has been various freelance writing projects for college textbook publishers. (See more at www.GoJohnSoares.com)
What do you like to do when you’re not hiking?
I love to do tai chi–I study privately with Gene Burnett in Ashland, Oregon. I like to write haiku and have had a few published in haiku journals. I also have an insatiable hunger to learn. I love the natural sciences, especially astronomy. And I have a strong interest in the philosophical and practical aspects of Taoism and Zen Buddhism.
Where do you live now, and why?
I live near Mount Shasta in far Northern California. It’s in Siskiyou County just south of the Oregon border. I spent much of 1999 and 2000 here before moving over to the coast near Crescent City. I moved back in 2005.
The natural world here really speaks to me. Mount Shasta, a massive double volcano that rises to 14,162 feet, dominates the entire area. It’s always changing—snow falls, shrouding it in white; snow melts rapidly on sunny days, exposing the bare slopes; and exquisite lenticular clouds often form near the summit. Delicious pink and orange colors reflect off the upper slopes at sunset.
There’s also an abundance of other interesting landforms—the Eddys Mountain range; deep canyons; clear glacial lakes. And the plant life varies from high desert to the north and east, to pine-fir forests, and to alpine meadows in the high areas.
In what other interesting areas have you lived?
I lived in Ithaca, New York for a couple of years when I worked at Cornell University. I also spent a year living in Lund, Sweden, where I worked at the university and learned some Swedish on the side. And I traveled for over a year through most of western Europe, some of eastern Europe, and also Turkey, Israel, Egypt, and Morocco. Much of the time I hitchhiked, and I often slept in fields or churchyards, or stayed at the homes of people who gave me rides.
I spent a very special three years living on the island of Kaua’i in Hawai’i, which holds a very special place in my heart.
I’ve also lived for extended periods of time in Redding and Chico, and I lived in Alameda in the Bay Area for two years.