The next time that Anne Duri and Dave Montgomery head off into the backcountry, they won’t be weighted down with guidebooks.
The local couple recently self-published “Sandstone Country Wildflowers: the Red Shoe Guide,” which offers readers a comprehensive look at Moab-area wildflowers, including some species that are endemic to Grand County.
Copies of the guidebook are now available at Back of Beyond Books, and to get the word out, the two authors will be appearing at the downtown bookstore on Saturday, June 13, from 6 to 8 p.m.
Before they came up with the idea of writing the book, the avid hikers found that they had to lug three or four guidebooks along with them each time they hit the trails. According to Montgomery, that’s because none of the other guidebooks offered enough detailed information about wildflowers around Moab.
For Duri, the project also gave her the chance to add to her ever-expanding collection of wildflower guides.
“If you’re a flower geek, which I am, you just can’t have enough plant books,” she said.
Duri is the book’s author and illustrator, and Montgomery took all of the photographs.
As a former National Park Service backcountry ranger, Duri conducted numerous plant surveys out in the field over the years. Long before then, she worked at plant nurseries, and as a landscaper.
Montgomery works as Canyonlands Field Institute’s operations manager; he has a background in graphic design and graphic arts, which came in handy as they put the book together.
Both Duri and Montgomery have lived in Moab for more than 20 years, and like many others, they spend much of their free time hiking.
Montgomery said the project began as a labor of love between the two of them.
“We didn’t start it to make a book, per se,” Montgomery said. “It was a project for ourselves, really.”
As the months wore on, they began to think that they could hand copies out to a few friends. Over time, however, another idea hit them: The project could easily become a “real” book.
They turned to Aurora, Colorado-based Frederic Printing for help in publishing a short-run first printing, just to see how sales would go. Much to their surprise, that run sold out in just three weeks, so they ordered a second printing.
Montgomery said they wrote the book with “plant geeks” and average readers in mind.
“We wanted something that works really well for a broad range of users,” he said.
Other wildflower guidebooks may include just one photo of a plant. However, Duri and Montgomery opted for a three-shot format that includes up-close photos of each plant’s flowers and leaves, as well as a broader shot of the whole plant.
Each section is color-coded, so it’s easy to thumb through and find, say, a yellow flower that readers can’t identify on their own. Duri also includes detailed notes about each plant, so readers won’t confuse one common species with another.
Montgomery estimated that they spent two-and-a-half to three years working on the book, and Duri said they collected “tons” of data during that time.
“There is nary a plant that gets by us,” she said.
The book can come in handy just about anywhere on the Colorado Plateau, including much of southeastern Utah, as well as southwestern Colorado, northern Arizona and the northwesternmost sliver of New Mexico.
“It starts in Moab because this is the community where we’re from,” Montgomery said. “But it’s very much not just a Moab book.”
That’s a lot of ground to cover, so the book sticks to the lower elevations between 3,000 and 7,000 feet above sea level.
In the future, Montgomery and Duri would like to publish an addendum that focuses on the highest elevations of the La Sal and Henry Mountains, as well as other lofty points in the Four Corners area.
However, Duri suggests that readers shouldn’t wait to pick up the current edition, which they can put to good use during an incredible wildflower season that should stretch well into the fall.
“It’s a great year for flowers because we’ve had so much rain,” Duri said. “I would encourage everyone to get out there.”
Montgomery said the couple are grateful for the strong response they’ve received to date.
“To all of the people that have purchased this book already, and those who are going to, thank you for the local support,” he said. “We hope you enjoy using them out in the field.”
Back of Beyond Books is located at 83 N. Main St.
Local authors plan June 13 book signing at Back of Beyond
“If you’re a flower geek, which I am, you just can’t have enough plant books.”
When: Saturday, June 13, from 6 to 8 p.m.
Where: Back of Beyond Books, 83 N. Main St.