Author Stormy Good Monod, whose words have directed hikers in and around the Flathead, is celebrating 20 years of connecting local residents and visitors with the stunning mountain trails that score this valley with an expanded and updated 20th-anniversary edition of her classic guidebook, “Day Hikes Around the Flathead.”
It is the flagship guidebook by the Whitefish-based publishing company Flathead Guidebooks LLC, and outlines 120 day hikes, ranging from easy to strenuous, while featuring more trails than ever before as Monod’s roster of hikes and familiarity with the region has only grown. The guidebook has been growing and improving year by year.
What began as a hand-copied pamphlet of less than two dozen hikes has grown into a prized resource for novice hikers and experts alike.
“Since 1998, I’ve been constantly hiking and upgrading the information in this trail guide,” the author said. “Our ultimate goal is to get people outside, enjoy our wonderful public lands and come back home safely.”
The book is focused on trails open in spring, summer and fall, and the 20th-anniversary edition features detailed descriptions of 120 day hikes in the greater Flathead Valley region, including 40 hikes not found in previous editions.
Featured trails include the Jewel Basin Hiking Area, Ten Lakes Scenic Area, the Whitefish Range, Glacier National Park, the Salish Mountains, the Northern Swan Crest, the Flathead Valley proper, the Great Bear Wilderness, and the Mission Mountains.
“I realized there was no one-stop guidebook for hikes outside Glacier National Park, particularly hikes that are friendly for families and hikers with dogs,” she said. “The book just grew from there.”
Monod described the book as a “grown-up version” of the original iteration two decades ago, which was a pamphlet she cobbled together while working at Rocky Mountain Outfitter, the iconic outdoor retailer in downtown Kalispell, which has carried the guidebook for years.
“There is an enormous appetite for reliable, easy-to-understand information about the wealth of hiking opportunities to be found in and around the Flathead Valley,” Jandy Cox, owner of Rocky Mountain Outfitter, said. “Day Hikes Around the Flathead helps satisfy that hunger.”
From 1999 to 2005, Monod photocopied the pamphlet, but in 2005 the project graduated to professional printing, and local geology experts Lex Blood and Judith Pressmar added a chapter outlining the area’s stunning geology, a collaboration that continues in the 20th-anniversary edition.
To make room for the new hikes in the anniversary edition, Monod moved most of the summit-top hikes from the earlier edition to a companion book called “Summit and Ridge Walks Around the Flathead,” which is widely available, and also features geology notes from Blood and Pressmar. The book includes 67 outings, with a potential of reaching 72 summits and 14 ridge walks for experienced hikers.
Another previous book is “Nordic Dreams: Flathead Valley Cross-Country Skiing and Snowshoe Guide.”
Monod said her inspiration behind continuing to churn out guidebooks is born of her passion for the outdoors and the unrivaled access that hikers can enjoy in northwest Montana.
Having spent most of her life being formed by the people and country that make up the great state of Montana, Monod said both left indelible impressions on her. A former educator, Monod spends as much time as possible outside, pursuing hiking, backpacking, scrambling, skiing, canoeing and bicycling, as well as painting and writing.
“My other motivation was to help people connect with the land, fall helplessly in love with these natural areas and become advocates for conservation,” she said. “Millions of people love Glacier Park, which has plenty of advocates — but areas outside of Glacier Park also need supporters.”
Fittingly, the book opens with a quote from Rachel Carson, the marine biologist, author and conservationist whose book “Silent Spring” is credited with advancing the global environmental movement.
“Those who contemplate the beauty of the earth find reserves of strength that will endure as long as life lasts,” reads the quote.
Monod currently splits her time between Northwest Montana and western Alberta.
The book is available through the following retailers: Montana Coffee Traders in Columbia Falls; Rocky Mountain Outfitters, Sportsman Ski Haus, The Book Shelf, The Toggery, and the Flathead National Forest headquarters in Kalispell; and Bookworks, Montana Coffee Traders (Highway 93 location) and The Toggery in Whitefish.