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NATURAL RESOURCES BOOK REVIEW.

``L.L. Bean Hiking and Backpacking Handbook''

By Keith McCafferty (The Lyons Press), $18.95

This book is designed as a beginner's guide, but it's a useful and enjoyable volume no matter how much experience you have. Even veteran backpackers are likely to learn, or be reminded of, some useful wilderness techniques and precautions. And everyone will enjoy the author's graceful writing, quotations from other wordsmiths and beautiful photos evoking the magic of the backcountry.

As a beginner's guide, the author's task - which he accomplishes - is to provide a comprehensive introduction on how to explore the outdoors enjoyably, safely and responsibly. He sets a good foundation, covering all the fundamentals for new hikers and backpackers, including accurate and up-to-date knowledge about techniques, attitude and gear.

This book covers everything from what to wear to how to avoid becoming lost, and from how to pack to how to choose a hike that suits your fitness level.

In spite of the book's title, the author mercifully refrains from pushing L.L. Bean equipment even though some of the company's gear is shown in some of the photos. The author offers a fair assessment of modern hiking and backpacking equipment and trends, without favoring one label over another. He even points out how it's possible to start out in hiking without costly gear and includes a section on how to buy second-hand equipment.

As an added plus, you'll also find helpful checklists of equipment and supplies to take on your hiking and backpacking trips, lists of sources for equipment and maps, Web site addresses for outdoors information, and more. As a reference book for beginners and intermediate backpackers, this one's a keeper.

Grade: A

- Michael Comeaux

BUILDING THE PERFECT BEACH

Finding the best place to hit the sand, whether you prefer to lay in it, get buried in it or build castles on it, is made easier by the California Beaches Web site (www.smartpages.com/v/foghorn/beaches).

There are links to the state's beaches in the south, central and northern regions. Los Angeles County has 42 beaches listed, including nearby Topanga County Beach, Will Rogers State Beach, Dan Blocker County Beach and Paradise Cove.

Each area listed includes its recreational activities, entrance fees and hours. Surf's up, dude.

--Pining around: On your next trip to San Diego, consider taking advantage of the outdoor playground in and around Torrey Pines (www.torreypines.org).

The Torrey Pines State Reserve features breathtaking scenery and myriad plant and wildlife. The Web site provides an interactive tour of the area's flora and fauna.

``Cliffs and canyons echo the calls of gull, raven and sea lion against backgrounds of pine, wind and surf. Filtered sunlight patterns the forest floor and may reveal a bobcat's track or the watching eye of a rabbit.''

- Chris Cocoles

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COPYRIGHT 2001 Daily News
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2001, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Title Annotation:Sports
Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Aug 16, 2001
Words:486
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