Treading where few have traveled

Slingerlands resident's book on lesser-known Catskill mountains released

Water cascades over Plattekill Falls near the start of hikes to the Overlook and Plattekill Mountains.

Water cascades over Plattekill Falls near the start of hikes to the Overlook and Plattekill Mountains.

— But over time Via began bringing friends with him. Each time he would take new notes, dozens of photos and use his GPS system to download the track he walked onto his computer when he got home.

He hiked the peaks over and over again until he had everything he needed to create the book.

Liz Cruz, a hobbyist cartographer from the Catskills who now lives in Florida, was recruited to create the book’s colorful maps. She designed nine custom maps for nine regions in the book, and spent hundreds of hours creating them.

Two illustrators and five photographers contributed to the book, as well.

“With the guide, I tried to put together a guidebook with all of the elements I think are missing from most guidebooks for the general public,” said Via. “I tried to incorporate in this book everything I think is missing in typical hikers guides.”

The book lists difficulty ratings, the best places to take photos and possible biking, canoeing, camping and fishing opportunities nearby.

According to Via, the guide is useful for hikers of all skill sets, from beginners to advanced.

“I think a lot of people will buy it just because the photos, maps and artwork are so beautiful,” said Via, explaining the guide isn’t your average coffee table book, but isn’t a typical hiking guide, either.

“I wanted to get people to attempt it themselves,” he said. “What will attract people? Of the 67 peaks, probably 50 some odd of them are peaks that are little known to the public or haven’t really written about. It’s a chance to go somewhere that everyone and their brother haven’t been to before.”

According to Via, once people see the guide he believes people will want to see the sights for themselves, especially photographers. He explained woodland creatures are easily spotted in the lower forests and the upper peaks are filled with flowers during the spring. The guide also warns hikers where they are mostly likely to see bears and other dangerous wildlife.

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