By GARRETT NEESE
DULUTH - A 12-mile hike with steep inclines could be heaven, under the right circumstances. But those aren't likely to include being aged, infirm, pregnant, or just plain pressed for time.
Which guarantees a built-in audience for "Gentle Hikes of Upper Michigan: Upper Michigan's Most Scenic Lake Superior Hikes Under 3 Miles," the third book by Ladona Tornabene, Lisa Vogelsang and Melanie Morgan.
The book includes details of almost 60 trails in the Upper Peninsula, including their location, length, incline, highlights and wheelchair accessibility. Other sections cover short scenic walks, waysides and scenic locales, picnic areas, health benefits of walking, and special sections for those traveling in RVs or people with physical challenges.
"The whole thing is just making the outdoors accessible for everyone," Vogelsang said. Tornabene and Vogelsang began discussing the first book, about Minnesota's North Shore, in 2000. The next year, they set out with new equipment, including surveyor's wheels and a clinometer for measuring inclines.
The inspiration came in part from their own travails. Vogelsang, a two-time member of the U.S. Olympics volleyball team, has had five ankle surgeries, and suffers from arthritis.
Vogelsang's ankle injuries that summer forced her and Tornabene to bring on another person for the hikes; Morgan, a former account and outdoor enthusiast who they knew from church.
"She wound up being a wonderful addition, so we kept her on for the other books as well ... she's a wonderful writer and photographer," Vogelsang said.
After a book on hiking in Wisconsin, the trio tackled the Upper Peninsula. Researching and writing the book took two years, with at least two of the writers present for each trail visit.
"We hike everything," Vogelsang said. "We do the hiking, do the measuring. We do each one twice just to make sure."
A map drawn by Vogelsang accompanies each route. In some cases she incorporated elements of existing maps; many, though, are solely the product of her own measurements.
Tornabene and Vogelsang both hold Ph.D.'s; Tornabene is an associate professor of health education and certified health education specialist at the University of Minnesota-Duluth, while Vogelsang is an assistant professor of psychology and American Sign Language at the College of St. Scholastica in Duluth.
But while the write-ups are informative, Vogelsang promises they won't be a chore to read.
"We bring it down to Reader's Digest level, not an academic paper, which would be daunting for most folks, not to mention stiff," Vogelsang said.
The book sums up the beginning of the Bond Falls trail like so:
"Trailhead begins near information kiosk on 6'8"-wide paved path. "Continue on path for 500' to boardwalk area and viewing of falls. Spectacular! There are rails along this boardwalk that are equipped with fencing and rails. A picturesque pond with stair access serves as the base if this incredible set of falls."
Asked to name a favorite spot, Vogelsang commiserates briefly with Tornabene before targeting the Nara Nature Park.
"That's the one thing that really did impress us, how Mr Nara has gifted that land to Houghton, when he could have , sold it for millions of dollars Not only that, it's wheelchair-accessible," she said
Vogelsang would later expand hat to the state parks, such as I McLain, FL Wilkins, or the Porcupine Mountains. And the naional parks. And the Black Rivr Harbor Area.
Oh, and don't forget Whitefish Point.
"It's hard to pick a favorite" she admitted. "It's like 'Who's our favorite child?"
All three authors are also members of the Superior Hikrig Trail Association, which tocks the North Shore book in is gift shop.
"It's a really good seller for is," said executive director Gayle Coyer.
Coyer said the books provide good service for outdoors- lovers seeking more accessible experiences.
"It's a great guide for people who want to hike, and, for whatver reason, want to do the hikes that aren't as challenging," she said. "It really gets you out to a lot of natural areas.
In the future, Vogelsang said, she may work with other authors on volumes covering othr Great Lakes and states,
though there have been no definite plans.
One thing is set: the authors will be coming to the Upper Peninsula for book signings dining the week of Sept. 25. The Houghton County Historical society will be one of the stops, with other areas to include Keweenaw County
"We're photographers, and we know they should also have good color at that time, so it's a win-win," Vogelsang said
For more information, go:to adventurepublications.net or call 1-800-678-7006.