Sitting at his kitchen table, writer Matt Simmons looks pleased.
Behind him there are stacks of boxes filled with his new and first book – The Outsider’s Guide to Prince Rupert. They’ve arrived this afternoon from the printers in Manitoba.
As he sits down for an interview his smile is momentarily replaced by a frown as he admits he’s been nervously going back again and again to view the books.
“I laid it out and everything, so I’m noticing what I could have done differently,” Simmons mutters.
At a quick glance, it’s apparent, there’s nothing Simmons should be apologizing for. It’s a beautiful book. It contains gorgeous photographs, simple, but useful maps, and a personalized testimony to the necessity to grab rain gear, entice family and friends, and muster energy to explore this beautiful corner of the world.
The book contains 36 hikes, 18 paddles, 9 bicycle routes and some hints about tackling rock, snow and underwater. Simmons arrived in Prince Rupert in 2007 and soon began helping rebuild local trails and eventually began writing articles about exploring the region in weekly column published in the Prince Rupert Daily News.
In 2010 his wife, Jo Brundsen, suggested that someday he should put the articles together as the basis for a book.
“When the Daily News folded last summer it forced my hand,” Simmons recalls.
While the ground work was done with the initial articles, when he decided to go with the book project, he had to revisit every single location, with a GPS in hand, and record data for the maps.
“The narratives were already done, I tweaked them a bit, but some of them are exactly as they were in the paper,” he says.
Asked to pick a favourite, Simmons, without hesitating, identifies Mount Blaine.
“It’s steep and it’s tough going so it’s good exercise,” he says.
“It only takes 45 minutes until you’re up in the open and you have this view of the mountains. That’s my favourite part about hiking – getting up into the alpine,” he adds.
The mountain takes its name from a pioneer family and par for the course, Simmons sought out avid outdoorsman Bob Blain for some additional information.
In the book he quotes Blain saying his grandparents lived across the harbour from Prince Rupert in a cabin, rowed across every day for work and to transport kids to school.
“These hard-working pioneers of life in a wet landscape built the trails and later the cabins where they spent much of their time grocery shopping out of the wilderness,” Blain
Simmons hopes the book will offer people a combination of a practical hiking guide for locals and visitors to take in their backpacks, yet also something that can sit on the coffee table.
Quick to credit help from others, Simmons lists Paul Glover of Smithers from Northword who he hired to edit the manuscript and GIS technician Alyssa Parker of Victoria who help put together the maps.
On Thursday April 21, Simmons will host an official book launch at the Prince Rupert Library from 5 to 9 p.m.