Friday, August 26, 2011

The Friday Wrap: Sage's 40th, Maine, and WMNF closures

Sage reached her 40th New Hampshire 4000-Footer a few days ago.

The girls and I are packing up for Maine and looking forward to climbing Katahdin. We were going to leave on Sunday, but I don't feel like driving through Irene...we'll leave on Monday instead.

I would end this post with "Happy Hiking," but the White Mountain National Forest is closing all trails, huts, shelters and campsites this weekend due to the incoming hurricane.

Stay safe, everyone!

'Til we return on Friday,

Trish (and Alex and Sage)

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Thursday Review: I Am Nujood, Age 10 and Divorced

First, a bit of disclosure. Nujood Ali's book was published by Broadway Books, the same company that will publish my mother-daughter adventure memoir, UP, in April 2012.

Second, a confession. This was the first I'd heard of this case. This might seem surprising, since Nujood's divorce was all over the news a few years back. Don't know how I managed to miss this story when it actually happened, but I did.

I saw this book two weeks ago, while I was browsing through a local store near my home in New Hampshire. The eyes on the cover are what first caught my attention. Intelligent and engaging, they made it obvious their owner was strong in spirit and had something to say. Then I read the title and felt I needed to know more. I therefore bought the book and delved.

Written in the voice of a ten-year-old girl, the prose is relatively simple and blunt; such are the words of children, who speak the truth as they see it. Adults tend to infuse their text with stuffy literary devices and lofty pretense. Nujood's words are direct and honest. They often feel like an unintentional punch to the gut.

Born in a tiny village in rural Yemen, Nujood Ali was raised in the patriarchal traditions of her ultra-conservative culture. In 2008, at the age of nine, she was married off to a man three times her age by her poverty-stricken father and loving but completely submissive mother. The man promised her family that he would not touch Nujood until she reached puberty, but he promptly broke that promise on the very night of his wedding. Nujood endured months of physical and emotional suffering at the hands of her husband and in-laws until she finally gathered the courage to escape and find a courthouse, where she explained her situation to a thankfully sympathetic judge.

We in the United States are somewhat aware that these things happen in other parts of the world. Reading a personal account, however, truly opens one's eyes. My daughter, Alex, will be nine years old in less than six months. She's almost the age Nujood was when she was married off. When I put all this into such a personal perspective, my mind boggles.

Sage keeps asking if I will read this book to her. At six years old, she is not ready to hear the more tragic aspects of Nujood's story. This won't stop me from reading most of the book out loud, though. I will definitely skip over the parts young Sage can't yet understand or handle, but I can get the gist across. Nine-year old Nujood was married off without her consent in a part of the world where women and girls are still viewed as property. A few months later, Nujood found her way to a Yemen courtroom and demanded justice. She got it, with the help of many of her brave countrymen and women.

I highly recommend this book to everyone, but I feel girls (mature readers) and women will especially benefit. Sitting in our relative privilege, it's too easy to forget what far too many women go through in other parts of the world. Awareness leads to advocacy, and, when it comes to women's rights, we can't have too much of that.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Wednesday Shout-Out: FBomb

Attention teenage girls -- go check out FBomb.

Created by teenager Julie Zeilinger, is "a blog/community created by and for teenage girls who care about their rights as women and want to be heard."

The site includes interviews with prominent proponents of women's rights, blog posts written by strong female voices, and information on the creator's upcoming book (to be published by Seal Press). welcomes submissions by teenage feminists, by the way.

Good stuff.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

The Tuesday Trip Report(s): Twins/Galehead/Bonds/Zealand and Field/Willey

I've two offerings this evening, both in video format.

The first is a six-minute energetic retelling of Sage's five-day, seven mountain hike over North Twin, South Twin, Galehead, Bond, Bondcliff, West Bond, and Zealand.

The second is a minute and a half recap of Sage and Alex's hike of Mt. Field and Mt. Willey.Both are White Mountain 4K journeys, both were filmed in August 2011. The first contains a dance/techno soundtrack, the second is devoid of music.

Sage has now completed 40 4Ks.

These are the last 4K trip reports until October. September is all about state highpointing...we'll go west and explore new territory...stay tuned...

Monday, August 22, 2011

Monday Musing: G'Bye 4Ks, Hello Highpoints

The girls and I just hiked our last two New Hampshire 4000-Footers until October (mountains Tom and Willey -- trip report to follow).

Next up: Highpointing!

Last year, the girls and I began highpointing the USA. To highpoint, one must stand on the highest point of each state. Unlike the New Hampshire 4000-Footers, one is allowed to get to the top of a highpoint by any means whatsoever.

We began with nearby Jerimoth Hill, RI, then we traveled down to Connecticut and ascended Mt. Frissell. Mt. Greylock in Massachusetts was next, followed by a two and a half month spree in which we drove all over the country and bagged 31 more states. Last spring, we flew to Hawaii and drove up Mauna Kea. Five weeks ago, we ascended New York's Mt. Marcy. For details on any of the state highpoints we've ascended, use the search function on the sidebar to the right.

Our total now stands at 36. Our surface goal (I'll explain that term later) for the rest of this year is to bring that total up to 40. Specifically, we hope to highpoint Maine, Texas, Arizona and New Mexico.

Will we make it? Who knows. After Maine and Texas, we enter unknown territory -- we've never hiked in high altitude. Harney Peak in South Dakota is the highest we've gone to date. Arizona's Humphreys Peak and New Mexico's Wheeler Peak are both above 12,000 feet. Those must be hiked. Actually, everything must be hiked from this point forward. We're out of easy ascent options; there are no more summit roads or trams in our highpointing future.

We might not even make Maine or Texas. I've an important medical procedure tomorrow that was scheduled at the last minute; I might not be strong enough to summit Katahdin during our planned trip to Baxter State Park (which requires reservations months in advance). Texas has been awfully hot of might not cool off by the time we get there. As for Arizona and New Mexico -- we will spend a lot of time acclimatizing, but someone might feel woozy during the ascent regardless. If that happens, down we will go. The mountain will always be there; I'm not going to mess around with altitude sickness should either one of the girls get a headache.

So...highpoints of ME, TX, AZ, and NM, here we come. Will we make the top of any or all of them? Maybe, maybe not. Will we at least get to travel, see beautiful works of nature, talk to the locals of each region, and visit a good handful of national and state parks? Absolutely. Highpointing is what I call the surface goal. It's the excuse, it's the impetus. The real treasure, the real value, is in visiting different parts of the country. We'll do what we can do, of course -- it's important to discover and reach one's potential -- but should we not make a highpoint or two or four, we'll still have a blast.

If we do successfully highpoint all four this year, then we'll have only ten highpoints left. I'm confident the girls can do all but three or four of them over the next seven or eight years, assuming they don't get tired of this game. Hood, Rainier, and Denali will have to wait until they are well into their teenage years (at the very least) -- again, assuming they're still interested and are genuinely enthusiastic about learning the mountaineering skills they would need to know to tackle such bohemoths. We'll take it year by year and see what happens.

I'll post a trip report of today's hike by tomorrow evening. After that, it'll be all about the highpoints until we return in October.

Friday, August 19, 2011

The Friday Wrap: Sage's Five Day Hiking Adventure

I've been out of the loop this week; Sage and I just got back from ascending seven 4K peaks. We had a grand time hiking through all kinds of weather and meeting all sorts of interesting people. Her 4K total is now up to 38. Assuming health and weather conditions allow, Sage will finish the White Mountain Four Thousand Footers in early November. She'd finish earlier if we weren't taking a month off in September to highpoint some western states.

Last Saturday's talk at the Highland Center went well. There was a full house and it was nice to see some familiar faces.

Trip report to follow...

Saturday, August 13, 2011

We're Off For Several Days....

Tonight's our last talk at the Highland Center -- 7:30pm.

After that, Sage and I will head out for a seven mountain 4K spree. We'll be back on Thursday, August 18.

'Til then...

Friday, August 12, 2011

The Friday Wrap: NPR's Fresh Air, Alex's Drawing, Sage's Big Adventure, and the Highland Center

It's been a great week!

Hugh's interview with NPR's Terry Gross was broadcast on Fresh Air.

Alex's drawing of Mt. Tecumseh, the one she made during her first 4K ascent, was chosen for inclusion in our forthcoming book, UP (Broadway Books, April 2012).

Sage looks forward to her next big hike -- seven mountains in five days, which will bring her 4K total to 38.

We booked airline and rental car tickets for Highpointing Spree Part Two. Details to follow.

We'll all be at the Highland Center tomorrow night, August 13th, to give our last talk before UP comes out next spring. If you're in town, c'mon by. We'll start at 7:30pm.

Have a great weekend, everyone. I'll be ascending mountains for five days with Sage, so I won't be able to update this blog again until the night of the 18th. 'Til then, happy hiking...or at the very least, get outside!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Thursday Review: Bone

I am extremely picky about my girls' reading material. For example, the only Winnie-the-Pooh stories in our house are the unabridged versions by A.A. Milne. We know Tinkerbell not as the cute, pretty, Disneyized sprite, but as the nasty little thing made famous by J.M. Barrie. We've read Homer and we're starting Shakespeare. Last October, I introduced the works of Poe.

I guess it's safe to say that when it comes to literature, I'm a complete and total snob.

That being said, I don't censor what Alex and Sage choose to read for themselves. They're allowed to check out anything they wish from the library or buy what they will using their spending money.

So thank goodness they discovered Jeff Smith's Bone. There are nine volumes in this adventurous and engaging series, and the girls have read every one.

Alex picked up her copy of Volume One, Out From Boneville, two years ago on the suggestion of a friend. She read through it that same evening. The next day, she read it to Sage, and both of them became hooked. The girls received the rest of the series piecemeal over a period of months; they've since read the volumes over and over and over again on a weekly, if not daily, basis. Each book is now tattered from the constant use and most of the pages are crinkled and stained.

I'm a fan too. Bone is, in my opinion, the perfect graphic novel. The premise is simple -- three "Bone" creatures (white blobby-looking things) are thrown out of their town and arrive in a different land. They promptly fall into adventure after adventure as they try to find their way back home. They meet blood-thirsty (but inept) rat creatures, a talking leaf, strange townspeople who use eggs for money, an old warrior queen, a "lost" (but very smart and tough) princess, and other beings of interest. They get involved in others' complicated problems and each plays the hero on at least one occasion. There's magic, humor, moral dilemmas, quests, and even a cool-looking red dragon.

The women are strong and there's no sexuality other than the main Bone creature having an obvious (and humorous) crush on the young and beautiful Thorn. Though there is occasional violence, it was nothing my girls couldn't handle. That being said, Scholastic recommends this series for kids ages nine to twelve, so a parents of younger children might want to flip through the individual books before buying to make sure the series is appropriate. If I had to give the series a movie rating, I'd declare it a solid PG.

Bone books made it possible for the girls and I to go on our highpointing spree last year. We spent an average of six hours a day in the car for eight weeks. Not once during our trip did either of my girls complain or grumble. When they weren't looking out the windows, they were reading and rereading Bone.

If you're looking for a graphic novel series devoid of sex and gratuitous violence, and if you enjoy adventure, wit, and strong female characters, then Bone is the series for you.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Wednesday Shout-Out: The Secular Homeschooling Community

This blog is mostly about kids and hiking, true. However, there are a fair number of fellow homeschoolers following this blog. For those who homeschool for secular reasons, this is for you. It's a great source of support; hope you enjoy it as much as I do.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Tuesday Trip Report: Hancocks in the Rain with Sage. August 7, 2011.

Hancock Notch, Cedar Brook, and Hancock Loop Trails. 10 mile loop.

The forecast called for rain, but the little lady wanted to hike, so hike we did. The Hancocks are a great rainy-day trek, as long as temperatures are relatively warm and you've packed a few changes of clothes.

The Hancocks are two of the easier 4Ks, in my opinion. Most of the mileage consists of flat trail; the only steep bits are the few tenths of a mile before each summit.

There are ten water crossings on this hike (we counted); due to the recent dry spell, none presented a challenge.

More flatness...

Sage and I reached the Loop Trail fairly quickly; the ease of the trails and the refreshing drizzle kept both of us in good spirits. We were fairly soaked when we arrived, but we felt good -- there's nothing like a constant sprinkler on a humid summer's day. Of course, I had extra clothes with me and neither of us were wearing cotton; it's essential to dress appropriately and have the right layers when hiking in the rain, otherwise you risk hypothermia once a breeze starts to blow.

A quick view of North Hancock through the mist, from the above intersection.

We decided to do the loop clockwise. Up we went!

North Hancock: 4K number 30!

The trail between the peaks is fairly gentle. There's some moderately steep bits going down North Hancock, but other than that and a few moderate ups, the walk is quite easy.

South Hancock: 4K number 31!

We ate some chocolate and headed down...

It was a quick walk out. The total hike took just under six and a half hours, which is very close to adult book time. Sage's pace now matches Alex's; I need to get in shape or my girls will soon leave me in the dust.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Monday Musing: UP

Less than eight months from now, UP will be available in bookstores nationwide.

People often ask why I wrote UP. Starting with our first (and unsuccessful) 4K attempt, I've kept a notebook of things I remember, a diary of sorts, of each hike with each one of my girls. Five months before Alex and I finished the New Hampshire 4000-Footers, Alex asked if I would write about our time together on the trails. She knew I liked to write, and she knew I'd kept a personal, bare-bones blog of our progress. She thought it would be fun to have a bound collection of our adventures.

I thought this was a good idea and happily began to oblige her. In April 2009, I took the notes I had and structured them into a formal narrative. By the time Alex and I finished all 48 4Ks, I had the first draft of half the book. Hugh suggested I send the material to an agent friend of his for feedback. I did so and received encouraging words and helpful advice for overall direction.

By early March 2010, what was then Alex and the 4000 Foot Classroom was finished, edited, polished, and ready for submission. My intention was to publish and sell the book locally. The New York publishing industry is competitive and inundated with submissions from unknown authors. I felt too old to suffer forty rejections before getting a yes, and since the goal was to simply have a bound book before me, I decided to forgo an agent and try my luck with a small press. I submitted to a handful of independent publishers and was accepted by my first choice.

Though Hugh was happy about my success, he strongly suggested I submit to a New York agent; he felt the writing and mother-daughter theme deserved national recognition. A colleague of his suggested Laurie Bernstein, a wonderful literary agent and former VP/Senior Editor of Simon & Schuster. I sent the material to Ms. Bernstein and was offered representation within a week.

After respectfully declining the offer of publication from the independent press, I began working with my newly-acquired agent. Last November, she landed me a deal with Broadway Books, an imprint of Crown Publishing Group.

The folks at Broadway Books/Crown are lovely people and they're very enthusiastic about my book; I'm enjoying every minute of this process and I'm thrilled that UP is in such good hands. I'll soon begin having conversations with my publicists; there's been a lot of early media interest in UP and the girls, and it will be interesting to see where all this leads.

In the meantime, we've mountains to hike -- we'd hike them book deal or no book deal, blog or no blog. Hiking has become a part of who we are; it's just what we do. Sage will probably finish the 4Ks this November and bump Alex out of the second-youngest-girl-to-finish spot. Alex may finish the winter list this season. We've highpoints to explore. Then there's life in general: homeschooling, playdates, city time, extracurricular classes, time spent hanging about at home. It's all good.

There is one thing of which I'm especially pleased regarding our hiking and UP. Though I started both the blog and my hiking notes as a means to record our adventures for myself and my immediate family, I'm glad everything has gone public in a not-so-little way. Not because I crave attention (I'm a very private person and our family places great value in humility), and not because I care about the approval of others (I have a low opinion of gossip-mongers). I'm glad because I get weekly emails from women or girls who are happy to see a public example of an adventurous mother-daughter(s) team. The "girl power" theme strongly resonates with a lot of people. If we've been a positive influence or a source of inspiration to even one young woman or girl, then I feel like we've done something good, something worthwhile.

Our family looks forward to the months ahead. As UP's launch date draws nearer, our lives will get more and more hectic. It's all good, it's all fun, and I'm grateful to those who have been unwavering sources of happy support.

Here's to life, to love, to family...and, of course, to the mountains.

Talk at the Highland Center: Saturday, August 13, 7:30pm

Hugh, the girls and I will be at the Highland Center this Saturday night talking about our adventures on the White Mountain trails. This talk is geared towards parents and children; it's a part of the AMC's Family Adventure Weekend. If you're in town, c'mon by!

Friday, August 5, 2011

The Friday Wrap: Sports Illustrated, Alex's Leg, Sage's Quest, and UP's Photos

Thought I'd post a quick summary of the week's events.

Hugh is in Sports Illustrated this week. Check it out.

Alex had a check-up x-ray on the leg she fractured in gymnastics last winter. It's growing well and all the hiking (100+ miles/15+ mountains) since her last x-ray hasn't negatively affected her healing process one bit. Dr. Hedequist of Children's Hospital Boston confirmed that weekly, steep, ten-mile-plus hikes will not negatively affect Alex or Sage's skeletal growth; there are "no limitations" as long as the girls are happy and comfortable.

Sage looks forward to this weekend's hiking adventure. We hope to knock another 4K or two off the list.

Book news: My editor, the wonderful Sydny Miner, has chosen the pictures she'd like to include in my forthcoming book, UP (Broadway Books, April 2012). I've uploaded these pictures to my Facebook Page ; you can find them in the photos section.

Have a great weekend, folks!

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Thursday Review: The Boy Who Conquered Everest: The Jordan Romero Story

I have not had the pleasure of meeting the Romeros, though Alex and Sage do have a signed copy of this book. Hugh met Team Jordan at No Barriers 2011 this summer; Hugh is on the Board of Directors and Jordan gave a talk at the conference. I hope to also meet this remarkable young mountain climber one day; he is now highpointing the USA, so perhaps our paths will eventually cross. One can hope.

When Hugh brought home a signed copy of The Boy Who Conquered Everest, Alex and Sage were thrilled. They followed Jordan's record-breaking ascent last year and they admire both his chutzpah and his main message, that youth should not be in and of itself a deterring factor in the pursuit of one's goals. Alex read through the book in an hour, then she handed it to me so I could read it to Sage.

The book is full of pictures and is therefore visually striking on each and every page. There's a brief introduction of how the young Mr. Romero became interested in climbing the Seven Summits, along with a couple of notes on the importance of preparation. Next comes a short description of the individual climbs and the various challenges Jordan faced during each one. The book ends with the Everest ascent, then encourages kids to "find your own Everest."

The Boy Who Conquered Everest is an inspirational and engaging book for children, one with lots of pictures to capture the eye and imagination. I recommend this for young adventurers everywhere.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Wednesday Shout-Out: 48 in 30

August marks the beginning of Wednesday Shout-Out, my blog's weekly feature of other hiking, homeschooling, or "girl-power" related websites.

This week's website is Dan Szczesny's 48 in 30. I first met Dan on the summit of North Kinsman in March 2010; Alex and I had just ascended and he offered to take our picture. The next time we saw him, it was on Mt. Lafayette, just before he and his lovely bride Meena were about to be married on the summit. Since then, Dan and I have communicated on Facebook and I've become a fan of his blog, Expedition Kala Patthar: The Nepal Chronicles.

Dan's a good guy with a wonderful sense of adventure and a very generous heart. His next quest is to hike all 48 of New Hampshire's highest mountains in the 30 days of September...for charity. You can pledge a certain amount of dollars or cents per mountain; the money will go to Manchester’s Holy Cross Family Learning Center, a non-profit "whose volunteers teach ESL to immigrants and refugees trying to build a new life for themselves in New Hampshire."

Check out the website for details, and see if you can lend Dan and the Learning Center your support.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Congratulations, Sarah Perlmutter!

Sarah, who often hikes with her dog Hanna, won the signed copy of Smith and Dickerman's The 4000-Footers of the White Mountains. Congratulations, Sarah!

There'll be another giveaway soon. Stay tuned for details!

Monday, August 1, 2011

Kids and Happy Chaos on Moriah and the Carters. July 30-31, 2011.

Carter-Moriah Trail, Carter Dome Trail, 19 Mile Brook Trail. 15 mile traverse.

Something wonderful happened at the AMC Awards Ceremony last April -- a girl Alex's age received a certificate for hiking the 4000 Footers. At the end of the evening, I lept over a few people in order to meet the family before they left the building. Thankfully, I caught them before they even set foot in the aisle (my apologies to the folks I ran over). Amanda was the girl's name; she finished two weeks before turning seven. Randall was the hiking parent who accompanied her. Randall and I had a good conversation that evening which led to a Facebook friendship. We've been in contact ever since.

Last weekend, I had the pleasure of joining Randall, Amanda, and her brother Gabriel on a hike over Moriah and the Carters. We met at the 19 Mile Brook Trail parking lot for a car spot; I parked my Honda and the girls, Max, and I piled into Randall's vehicle.

Randall and his clan wanted to ascend Mt. Moriah via the Rattle River Trail, since they're hiking the AT in sections and hadn't yet set foot on that stretch. They dropped the girls and I off at the Carter Moriah Trail and agreed to meet us at the summit.

The hike up was very, very difficult for me due to the weight of my pack. I was carrying for three, which is something I've never done before. Alex and Sage carried as much as I thought they should, but I still carried the bulk of supplies and all the overnight gear. At least the scenery was pretty...

The wild blueberries weren't so bad either...


Once past Mt. Surprise, the trail became steep in parts. Ordinarily, such stretches don't bother me, but they certainly did this time around. I think I've found my limit in pack weight.

Hmm...perhaps the bog bridges should be replaced?


...and there!

Randall, Amanda, Gabriel, and Mr. Beefy (their English bulldog) were already there and had been waiting for a while. Unfortunately, I had taken approximately three days to ascend. That's what happens when you move like an overburdened snail.

Once up top, I dumped my pack and took pictures of the happy chaos.

Sage's 27th 4K!

After everyone was rested, fed, and watered, we moved on toward Imp Campground.

Kids, puppies, and views.

We arrived at Imp Campground around 2:30. Randall and his kids took the shelter while the girls and I took a tent platform.

View from the outlook near the shelter...

Our families then spent a couple of hours enjoying each other's company. The kids played games in the shelter while Randall and I talked. Max and Mr. Beefy expressed their affection for one another...

...until Mr. Beefy decided to take a nap.

Sunset at the Imp Shelter outlook...

We hiked out the next morning under a beautiful blue sky. Unfortunately, the puppies made it impossible for our group to hike together. Randall kept Mr. Beefy in front, but it did no good; Max continually whined and howled and complained about not being allowed to hang out with the Beef. I would have let him if the dogs would actually hike together. However, their puppiness worked against us; when close together, all they wanted to do was lick each other in the face. This behavior was cute at the campground, but it was decidedly inconvenient on the trail. The solution was for Randall, his kids, and Mr. Beefy to hike ten minutes ahead of us and wait at each summit.

Heading toward North Carter...

Steep section that gave me some trouble...


One of the following is North Carter's summit...

We caught up with the others at a nearby outlook and enjoyed the views...

...then we headed toward Middle Carter.

Close-up of Mt. Washington through the trees...

The Presidentials...

Middle Carter!

Sage's 28th 4K!

Heading toward South Carter. Again, Randall and his kids went ahead.

South Carter!

Sage's 29th 4K!

The kids playing at Zeta Pass...

Sage built a cairn thing...

The hike out was nice; Max finally calmed down enough for the kids to keep together.

This was a lovely hike in terms of company. Randall, Amanda, and Gabriel are good people and I hope we can spend some more time with them in the future. It was also nice to meet the many others we saw on the trail, including a nice fellow named Andy and a man who's finishing up his first round of the 4Ks. In terms of comfort, however, this hike was difficult. My pack was far too heavy, but I can't think of anything I should have left behind. The only solution is to wait until Alex is old enough to carry most of her own gear before taking both kids on another overnight which requires a tent and sleeping bags.

Hope everyone out there is enjoying the summer. Before you know it, it'll be fall (and we'll be out west at higher altitude).

Happy hiking, folks.