Sage has two hikes to go before she completes the NH48. The first will be Isolation, which we hope to summit sometime next week. The second is the Tripyramids ascent. Thanks to this incoming (and rare) October snowstorm, we'll have the pleasure of experiencing winter conditions on those final hikes. Should be interesting.
My publicist at Crown recently requested copies of all my hiking photos and videos. I hadn't looked at many of the older pictures in at least a year, and as I was going through them, I was struck at how much the girls have grown since we first began hiking in 2008.
I'm fortunate; not every mom gets to raise her daughters on mountaintops.
First, there's the title, which happens to sum up my attitude toward life.
Second, there's her "About" section. A woman takes on various challenges for the sake of expanding her horizons and pushing herself out of her comfort zone. Excellent.
Third, there's her "101 Things in 1001 Days," a blog tab that lists the things she's vowed to do within the next few years. What a great idea. Methinks I'll copy it, but add a slight twist --
Announcing our new biweekly Thursday section: 101 Things in 1001 Thursdays. The girls and I will make a list of 101 things we really want to do, then we'll proceed to accomplish two of those things every month. I'll report on our progress every other Thursday (while continually crediting Marcy and her wonderful blog for the idea).
Sage and I had our boots on the access road by 7:30am.
We saw the power of Mother Nature about a mile from the parking lot...
We continued along the road...
...and reached the trailhead.
We entered the woods...
...found some more evidence of Irene's fury...
...and enjoyed our walk through the autumnal trees.
We reached the intersection...
...and continued along the trail...
...until I looked up and saw two moose standing to my right. I got Sage's attention as quietly as I could. She looked up just in time to see the pair amble into the woods; by the time I raised my camera, they were gone.
Sage and I were thrilled; we'd never seen a moose while hiking. As we continued along the trail, we discussed their beauty, their massive size, and their silence (they never made a sound, even when walking on fallen leaves).
We reached the ridge and were treated to spectacular views...
...we ambled toward the summit tower...
...and tagged Sage's 4K #45.
Views from the tower...
We descended the stairs, ate, and touched the tallest rock we could see...
...and then we headed back down the trail.
Sage was in fine form as we descended the mountain. She invented a few recipes, talked about Star Wars, and played with various fallen branches. Most of the time, she walked twenty feet ahead of me, so I wasn't immediately next to her when she suddenly stopped, turned to the left, and exclaimed, "Mama!"
I turned in time to see two moose stride nervously into the woods. "Don't move!" I loudly whispered to Sage, hoping I could snap a picture before the pair disappeared. (That brown blurry thing in the middle of the following photo is a moose -- promise!)
After tucking my camera into its case, I turned toward Sage, who, I suddenly realized, was staring wide-eyed at something close-by. A tree blocked my field of vision; I couldn't see the object of her fascination. I began walking toward her...and a third moose hurried off to join the waiting duo. That third moose had stood and stared at Sage while the other two quickly departed. I hadn't realized it was there, I had just futzed with my camera and stared off into the woods while the giant creature stayed and gazed at my daughter.
Sage turned to me as the bull's hindquarters disappeared behind some distant branches. I asked if she had made eye contact with the moose and she said yes. She told me it had stared at her and cocked its head, as though he were interested in her. She said it was "cool, but a bit scary after a while." I explained that he probably hadn't seen a human her size before, and that he might have been trying to figure out what kind of creature she was. Sage found that funny, and she giggled frequently as we continued onward.
Not long afterward, we made it back to the trailhead.
A couple of miles later, we were at the car.
I'm glad Sage had a moose encounter. I'm even more glad the moose found her interesting but not threatening (it's rutting season and the males are unpredictable).
Does Sage care that she'll be the second youngest girl?
She cares, but only because the current second youngest girl is her sister, Alex, whose original 4K hikes are the subject of my forthcoming memoir, UP: A Mother and Daughter's Peakbagging Adventure (April 2012). Sage will beat Alex's record by a few weeks. Had we not taken thirty days off to go highpointing, Sage would already be finished the 4Ks and would have beaten Alex's record by a couple of months. Sage takes pride in being able to match her big sister's accomplishments.
Alex is okay with all this, by the way. Being the Youngest or Second Youngest Whatever doesn't matter to her. Besides, she's the subject of a soon-to-be-released book and, during interviews, she wants to be able to talk about Sage's feats as well as her own. Alex is a good person and an excellent sister. Not the least bit arrogant or selfish, she wants to share the spotlight with Sage. Sage, in turn, does not seem jealous of the attention her sister is getting. [They're best friends, those two, and I'll do everything I can to help them stay that way.]
The girls don't care about records....but they know others do. I'm often asked if Alex was the youngest to hike the four season 4Ks (she wasn't) or if she'll be the youngest to finish the winter 4Ks (she might be) or the Trailwrights 72 (she probably will be). I've been asked if Sage was the youngest to hike Humphreys Peak under her own power (I've no idea) or if she's the youngest person to ever have this many highpoints (39) under her belt (beats me).
Does any of this Youngest Whatever stuff really matter?
It doesn't matter in the sense that being the Youngest or Second Youngest Whatever is not the impetus for what we do. The girls hike because they want to hike. Their ages are a happenstance. While I'm aware -- and very happy about -- the positive effect they're having on others, and while I'm thrilled that readers of this blog and, potentially, my book, find their adventures inspiring and empowering, the bottom line is that we hike because we like to hike. Were there no blog, no book, no public support whatsoever...we'd still hike with exactly the same frequency as we do now. Our lives would look exactly the same, except I probably wouldn't spend so much time in front of the computer.
The Youngest Whatever does matter, kind of, because Alex and Sage have figured out, from other people's questions, that the title of Youngest Whatever matters...to others. They also know, from hearing Hugh and I discuss last year's controversy surrounding Jordan Romero's Everest ascent, that when someone perceived to be very young does something that far surpasses all adult expectations, certain adults get their knickers in a major twist. (I for one, admire the Romeros for getting behind the obviously very capable Jordan. They respected him enough to believe in and fully support his dreams. Not that they need any remarks of congratulations from me...but kudos to them.)
That being said, I'm glad that, for now, my girls don't care about being the Youngest Whatevers. At their current ages (8 and 6), I don't think they're ready to put that kind of pressure on themselves. If they happen to end up being the Youngest Whatevers, that's fine. I just don't want them thinking they have to be.
(Note that I am speaking about my specific kids. I know my children very well; I don't know yours. If your 7-year-old is trying to be the Youngest Whatever and you think he/she is ready for that kind of a quest, then go for it.)
When Alex and Sage are a few years older, however, and if I feel confident that they'd enjoy trying to be the Youngest Whatevers, well then, that'll be different. I'll fully support them in whatever they want to do. As long as the quest doesn't interfere with their sense of safety or their actual enjoyment of the hike, I see no reason to get in their way.
Of course, if they never want to be the Youngest Whatevers, that'd be fine too.
Alex's face looks much better. The swelling is gone and the cuts are healing. She'll be allowed to jump back into her usual activities next week.
I didn't check on the date of our town's local Halloween Party until just a few days ago. That was a mistake -- it's this weekend. Sage's Princess Leia costume isn't here yet. Someone's not a happy camper. Bad mom.
UP news: Bound galleys will soon be sent to reviewers nationwide. Good times.
UP has been copyedited and proofread. The next step consists of the designer positioning the photographs within the pages. When she's finished, I'll take a look, confirm my approval, then wait while the manuscript is turned into bound galleys (the prepublication version of UP).
Once the galleys are ready (next month), my publicists will send them to reviewers and journalists nationwide. My job this week is to send my publicists a list of prominent reviewers, authors, and celebrities we know or almost know, people who might be especially interested in reading and reviewing the book. Any favorable quotes from early reviewers will be printed on the books that will be sold to the public (UP's launch date is April 3, 2012).
I'm enjoying this process and I look forward to the coming weeks.