Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Salmon River guidebook wins national award

Regional guide and photographer brings home top honors

Express Staff Writer

?The Middle Fork of the Salmon River: A Comprehensive Guide? by Matt Leidecker. Idaho River Publications. $23.95. 95 pp.

On Monday, Dec. 18, photographer, author and Salmon River guide Matt Leidecker will conduct a book signing from 5 to 7 p.m. at Chapter One Bookstore in Ketchum for his award winning guidebook, "The Middle Fork of the Salmon River: A Comprehensive Guide."

Leidecker knows the ins and outs of the Salmon River and the region from 15 years of guiding, but now he has been nationally recognized as an authority. His guidebook has been awarded top honors in the Outdoor Guidebook category by the 2006 National Outdoor Book Awards.

Leidecker's comprehensive waterproof guidebook includes detailed maps, high and low water rapid descriptions, hiking, geology, camps and a history of the Middle Fork written in a mile-by-mile format. The many details and information he includes, such as erosion and landslide history, are just a few of the interesting and important facts to know when considering any type of activity in the region.

However, it's Leidecker's photography that is the most impressive element to his guide. His images are not just striking; they serve as excellent reference landmarks for the region.

"The guidebook stems from a photography book I did. It was that project that got me into publishing and doing other things," Leidecker said. "Since the '70s rivers have had guidebooks, but I personally think they lacked nice maps and layouts."

Leidecker published his photography book, "Impassable Canyon—Journey Down the Middle Fork of the Salmon" in 2003, which led him to seriously consider doing a guidebook for the Middle Fork.

A self-taught photographer, Leidecker began taking photographs in 1998 when he bought a camera for a climbing trip to Patagonia with his brother, Erick, owner of Sawtooth Mountain Guides. Leidecker also worked for Sun Valley Heli Ski where he gained a great deal of experience mapping as a guide there. Creating a guidebook appeared to be the natural progression in publishing for Leidecker.

Through his research on-line and buying $300 worth of guidebooks from all over the west, Leidecker not only added to his personal library, he determined there were many general guides but nothing specific.

In addition, to the powerful visuals of maps and geological points of interest created through National Geographic's new TOPO! computer program as well as helpful rapid visuals, Leidecker discusses how to interact and behave with others on the river as well as interacting with other floaters.

"Writing guidebooks is controversial. Some people love them, and some people hate them because they expose people to the backcountry," Leidecker said. "It's important when writing a guidebook to include stewardship of the land and ethics of the area."

Leidecker will sing copies of both "Impassable Canyon—Journey Down the Middle Fork of the Salmon and "The Middle Fork of the Salmon River: A Comprehensive Guide." For more information visit,

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