I've been reading Hard Road West: History and Geology along the Gold Rush Trail by Keith Heyer Meldahl. If you are interested in the mountains west from the Rockies, you need to read this book. The jacket blurb mentions John McPhee, but this is a very different book from McPhee's geology series. McPhee is a superior prose stylist who seeks to distill his encounters with the landscape and its professional observers into concise, striking, almost choppy prose. Meldahl is a less refined writer, but his geology is detailed, leisurely, brimming with a enthusiasm for the rocks that contrasts with McPhee's almost clinical detachment. In spirit — not in style — Meldhal reminds me of Stegner's John Wesley Powell biography Beyond the Hundredth Meridian. There's a sense of place, a love for a harsh landscape in both books that are very powerful in these two books.