By Chad Dryden
Local writer and outdoors enthusiast Diane Stresings first book deal came to her much like a hikers approach to the woods she walked right into it.
I sent a proposal for a completely different project to (book publisher) Menasha Ridge Press, the Kent resident said. My editor, Bud Zehmer, replied right away. He said the company wouldnt be interested in the book Id proposed, but he liked my writing style and asked if I was interested in doing some hiking.
The result was 60 Hikes within 60 Miles: Cleveland, Stresings recently released debut that, like other volumes in the series, puts a spin on the oft-convoluted guide book glut the reader need not have a degree in forestry to understand the text.
Its organization is very user-friendly, Stresing said. You can quickly pick a hike based on trail length, difficulty, scenery or even based on whats especially appealing to children. You dont have to be an experienced hiker to grab the book and enjoy a trail.
The 60 hikes featured in Stresings book touch on the historical, the backwoods, the urban and just about everything in between. Covering the Cleveland, Akron and Canton metropolitan areas, Stresings selections are spread among nine counties and include such popular hiking spots as Cleveland Metroparks and the Cuyahoga Valley National Park.
Each entry includes details on trail length, hiking time, difficulty, scenery, trail surface and accessibility along with a trail map and driving directions.
Achieving such user-friendliness was not an easy task for Stresing, who hiked each trail at least once and began writing the book nearly two years ago. This is not to say she grumbled her way through the assignment.
While it was incredibly time-consuming, I kept reminding myself that its a rare writing assignment that allows you to do so much research outside and away from the keyboard and phone, she said. It was hard to think of it as work.
This work included several days spent tape-recording notes on the trail and reading other guide books on the area. This research helped Stresing decide what to include in 60 Hikes but perhaps more importantly, what not to include.
I made a concerted effort to include trails that werent in other books, she said. I also decided to include only a very few trails in the Cuyahoga Valley National Park there are entire guide books devoted to the park, so writing about many of them would have been redundant. After all the research, the greatest lesson Ive learned is this: writing a book is a great way to find out what you dont know about a subject.
Stresing will appear at the Learned Owl Book Shop in Hudson for a book signing from 1 to 3 p.m. tomorrow. For more information on 60 Hikes, visit www.menasha-ridge.com/60h_60m_clev.htm.