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SHEPHERDSVILLE - Though he only modestly admits it, Nathan Strange, 32, has already accomplished something many people aspire to do throughout their lives.
Several months ago, he published his first book, “A Guide to the Knobstone Trail, Indiana’s Longest Footpath.”
Strange is working on a master’s in Natural Resource Conservation and Management at the University of Kentucky.
“To be a credible author in this field, I needed to go back to school and get a science degree,” he said. “Plus, it’s interesting.”
Strange earned a bachelor’s degree in business management. After working for several years, he described finding himself “in a moment” in which he could change jobs.
“I took it upon myself to take the leap into another avenue,” he said.
After reading many adventure novels, he wanted to attempt long distance hiking.
“I was trying to find something local, that would only take a couple of days,” Strange said. “The Appalachian Trail was too much.”
He looked online for a local trail, focusing on southern Indiana because of its many, lesser-known trails.
The Knobstone Trail, nicknamed “The Little Appalachain Trail,” as Strange describes in his book, is 58 miles long, from Deam Lake State Recreation Area, near Clark County, to Delaney Creek Park in Jackson-Washington State Forest, just north of Salem.
“There wasn’t much information about it online, so I started to research it,” Strange said.
About four years ago, when the research began, Strange decided to hike the 58 miles in a weekend. It turned out to be more difficult than he had thought, but his curiosity in the trail’s history “snowballed,” he said.
When he decided to write the book, Strange contacted the Indiana Department of Natural Resources. He traveled to their headquarters in Indianapolis and was shown a filing cabinet, full of documents regarding the Knobstone Trail.
“I spent the day there, and was told I could take whatever I wanted,” he said. “I spent six months going through those, trying to find people involved and how to get ahold of him.”
He found some phone numbers buried in the papers, and began calling people to find out more. After gathering information, he realized organizing would be the biggest challenge.
“Everything was thrown together in this cabinet, with no rhyme or reason,” Strange said. “To put that all into a book was the hardest part.”
Throughout the last three years, he has walked the trail two more times to perform his own research by taking photos and notes.
“A Guide to the Knobstone Trail, Indiana’s Longest Footpath,” published by Indiana University Press, was released in March, and has since been sold in local bookstores and on Amazon.
“I am extremely happy with the book,” Strange said. “It turned out better than I ever dreamed.”
Critics have been receptive of the guide. Nuvo Newsweekly’s annual Green Guide said it was “part travelogue, part history, part love letter to nature...offers local lore of trees, wildflowers, and animals, but also GPS information and elevation data.”
Though he is unsure of how many copies have been sold, Strange expects his book to gain popularity towards the end of the year.
In the meantime, he is sending artwork and short stories, all of which share a central theme of environmental issues, to magazines.
“I have ideas of different things, but I’d like to find topics that haven’t been covered,” he said. “I want to do something about Kentucky. I’ve been investigating things in eastern Kentucky, like mountaintop removal.”
However, Strange made sure to add that nothing is set in stone. He didn’t tell anyone he was writing the guide until it was published, concerned that something would go wrong during the process.
“If I tell people after I have it in my hands, I can say, ‘hey, this is what I did.’” he said.