News Release: People

Aug. 3,  2009

Putting Foot to Paper With Hiking Guide

News Article ImageAuthors Ren and Mary Davis know the scenic hikes near Atlanta.

From Emory Report

Take a hike, Ren Davis ’73C tells urban explorers — and lists dozens of trails not far beyond the city limits. The Emory Healthcare employee, with his wife Helen, co-authored the Falcon Guide “Best Hikes Near Atlanta” released in May by Globe Pequot Press. Hear Davis read an excerpt from the guide.

From mountaintop vistas to historic sites and urban pathways, the guidebook describes 35 hiking destinations within an hour’s drive of Atlanta.
“We covered all four corners of the compass, from as far north as Amicalola Falls and far south as Piedmont National Wildlife Refuge,” says Davis, who hiked every trail armed with a notebook, GPS and camera.

Each hike features the Davises’ full-color photos; a brief route description; directions to the trailhead and GPS coordinates; an accurate trail map; and at-a-glance information on distance and difficulty level, hiking time, canine compatibility, fees and permits. Peppered throughout are “green tips” and sidebars on local lore, points of interest, and area wildlife.

“We’ve pulled together information about Georgia’s natural and human history to give readers a sense for, what is this area we’re going to be hiking in?” he says.

A native Atlantan, Davis is a local historian whose grandfather co-founded Emory Crawford Long Hospital, now Emory University Hospital Midtown. In 2003, Davis penned a book, “Caring for Atlanta: A History of Emory Crawford Long Hospital,” to commemorate the hospital’s redevelopment.

The avid hiker majored in history at Emory, an interest that informs much of his writing. The Davises describe themselves as “hands-on historians,” with a philosophy of preserving the past. “We feel that the best way to experience history is to walk it. Whether it’s a battleground or historic neighborhood, if you experience an area at the level of a pedestrian you’re more inclined to want to preserve it.”

And getting people out of their cars to more closely explore the world around them “is what we’re all about,” Davis says. Globe Pequot Press commissioned the Davises to write the Atlanta guidebook as part of their Falcon Guide city series based on the couple’s popular guides to hiking and walking the city: “Atlanta Walks” (1993) and “Georgia Walks” (2001). Both books are still in print with updated editions.

“Best Hikes Near Atlanta,” released in bookstores this May, was the culmination of two years of research, writing and many miles logged on foot. Complicating matters was a burglary in the Davises’ home where two computers were stolen. “I lost photographs for eight chapters! Fortunately I had backed up the manuscript to CD just the week before,” he says.

Davis, a project director in the Emory Healthcare Office of Quality, offers this advice to other aspiring authors on the Emory staff: “Find a topic that interests you, that you have some expertise in or are willing to invest time in, and then research what may already be out there,” he advises.

The Davises are already on to their next writing projects. “Best Easy Day Hikes Atlanta” to be released by Globe Pequot in 2010, features selections penned by the husband and wife team. And Davis has recently finished another manuscript, a guide to Civilian Conservation Corps sites in parks across the U.S.

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