My Secret Campsite: Obi Kaufmann

Follow the author of The California Field Atlas to the Sierras

By Diane Rommel

My Secret Campsite: Obi Kaufmann
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21 August 2017

Obi Kaufmann's California Field Atlas — put its September 5th release date on your calendar, or just pre-order now — is set to become a definitive look at our state's natural history. It's a showstopper. 

We talked to Kaufmann — a naturalist, poet, author, and artist — as he prepares to set off on a pan-California, 23-stop book tour. Where does this man of nature head when he goes to the woods? See below for the details. 

Name: Obi Kaufmann

My secret campground: Diablo Campground in Sierra Buttes. "It's a tucked away spot by a trickling stream repleat with a bevy of summer wildflowers. Head on up the knoll to Deer Lake for an afternoon dip in its saphire waters and keep an eye out overhead to catch a glimpse of some bald eagles. After, head on up to the ridge and stroll for a bit on the Pacific Crest Trail that makes its way through here, meandering around ancient Red Fir trees and presenting massive, sweeping vistas."

What do you like to bring to eat? "When backpacking, it's all about dehydrated food, as you don't want to carry too much water weight. Cooking is kind of a drag too, after a day of hiking, so it's all about dense, high-calorie food: nuts and dried food. Packaging is a pain to carry out after it has been used, so I consider alternative ways of storing my food, like Ziploc bags."

What do you sleep in?  "In the summer, across the Sierra Nevada, you actually don't need much. I usually just carry my Indigofera Norwegian wool blanket. My winter sleeping bag is way too warm, and I don't like to sleep in. I am usually hiking before dawn."

What do you bring to read? "I read all the time. You can check my website,, for what I am reading these days. I like non-fiction, science books. David Dennett's Darwin's Dangerous Idea is holding my interest these days. I enjoy rational thinking about how life came to be and about how it continues ever on. But I usually travel with John Muir Laws' Field Guide to the Sierra Nevada. John is my fellow author on Heyday Books, and I find his illustrations of local flora and fauna unprecidented in their exactness and beauty."

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