Saturday, March 31, 2012


THREE days until the publication of Up: A Mother and Daughter's Peakbagging Adventure!

Please join us April 3 @ 7pm at the Harvard Coop in Harvard Square for our first book signing event!

See yesterday's Friday Wrap for the publicity and reviews thus far.

Friday, March 30, 2012

The Friday Wrap: Getting Ready...


FOUR days until the publication of Up: A Mother and Daughter's Peakbagging Adventure!

Please join us April 3 @ 7pm at the Harvard Coop in Harvard Square for our first book signing event!

We had a busy week!  There's a lot of local and national publicity in the works for Up: A Mother and Daughter's Peakbagging Adventure.  I will announce each interview, review, blog feature, etc. as it is published or aired.

Here's a round-up of what's been published thus far.   

We are now featured on two major websites.  The Kids Corner at Kindle Nation Daily recently announced we'll be their guest bloggers for April 3, and Alison Osius just wrote a great online piece for Rock and Ice announcing the imminent publication of Up

Yesterday, the Littleton Courier published a nice article (no link, sorry!); in it, Mike Dickerman quoted from our great review in Publishers Weekly.

Speaking of great reviews, Kirkus enjoyed Up, as did the early readers who posted written reviews on Amazon, Google, and Goodreads.

Last week, I was a guest blogger on CNN's The Next List.

Earlier this month, Read It Forward posted my essay, "Empowering Steps."

I'll add to this list next week, when I'll have a lot (!) more to announce.

Have a great weekend, everyone.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Thursday Things: Fruit, Cheese, and St. Louis


FIVE more days until the publication of Up: A Mother and Daughter's Peakbagging Adventure!

Please join us April 3 at 7pm at the Harvard Coop in Harvard Square for our first book event!

We have a lot going on in terms of media and publicity; I will announce each interview/feature as it is printed or aired.

Now, back to the traditional Thursday Things...


It was Sage's birthday last Saturday, so we spent three days eating cake, ice cream, cake, a few piece of cheese here and there, and cake.  On Tuesday, we decided that we were in fine, full form to try number 18 on our list, "For one full day, eat only fruit." 

The girls did well.  I fed them tons of bananas and fruit-only smoothies.  Sage asked to have something besides fruit during lunchtime, but changed her mind when she realized Alex and I were sticking it out.  By afternoon, everyone seemed to have mentally adapted to the day's diet.  By evening's end, both girls were proud of themselves for having made it all the way through, and they had a better appreciation for the plight of those who routinely do not have enough to eat.

On Wednesday, we finished number 19, "Try all the types of cheese in the local grocery store."  We've been happily nibbling our way through this goal for months.  Turns out the girls and I aren't picky; Alex likes everything except blue, Sage likes everything except goat, and I like everything except American.  Nobody has any favorites.  Basically, if it's cheese, we'll eat it.

Last night, we enjoyed Meet Me in St. Louis (1944), number 6 on the 100 Best Kid and Family Movies list.  What a sweet film!  The girls and I had a lovely time watching the antics of the sisters and listening to the "old-time" songs.  We were particularly interested in the depicted Halloween traditions, which were certainly much different from the traditions of today!

Come back tomorrow for the Friday Wrap...

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Wednesday Shout-Out: Happy News

SIX more days until the publication of Up: A Mother and Daughter's Peakbagging Adventure!

Join us on April 3 at 7pm at the Harvard Coop in Harvard Square for our first book signing event!


The Wednesday Shout-Out: Happy News

There's been a lot of ugly stuff on the news lately.

While it's necessary to hear about murders, anger, and controversies, it's also necessary to hear about honesty, love, and hope.

My own bit of happy news -- there's a lot more publicity for Up in the immediate works.  Stay tuned...

Monday, March 26, 2012

Countdown, the Harvard Coop, and Dirt!!

COUNTDOWN -- EIGHT more days until Up: A Mother and Daughter's Peakbagging Adventure is published!

If you're in the Boston area, please join us on April 3 at 7pm at the Harvard Coop in Harvard Square for our first book event!

If you didn't see CNN's feature on Hugh yesterday, the folks at "The Next List" tell me an online link will be available shortly.  It was a great show!  We are thrilled with how it turned out.


The Monday Muse -- Hooray for Dirt!!

This morning, I did an interview with a popular Manchester newspaper (I'll post the link to the article when it's published).  I was asked, among other things, if I had any advice for parents who want their kids to pursue outdoor adventures.

My immediate answer was, "Let them get dirty!"

Seriously.  Let them get dirty.  Get used to packing a change of clothes -- shoes, even -- and allow your kids to wallow at will.  Bring wipes, if it makes you feel better, so you can clean up your children before sticking them back in the car.

Dirt is good.  It's earth, it's the essence of life.  Without it, we wouldn't exist.  Dirt is educational.  In it, a kid can discover all sorts of things.  Pebbles, bits of grass, earthworms, dead bugs, old pennies -- a square foot of earth is a natural treasure chest.  You can build things with dirt.  Just add water and...voila!  Mud pies, mud castles, mud everything. Dirt and mud feel good in your hands.  Dirt is a wonderful thing.

I've known parents who didn't allow their kids to play in the dirt.  The reasons varied.  They didn't want clothes to get dirty, they were worried about disease, they wondered what the neighbors would think.  To all that, I say, "Nonsense."  To deny a kid her time in the dirt is to deny a kid an important part of her childhood.  Bring a change of clothes, don't take her to places where stray animals and unleashed dogs habitually roam (and pee), and stop caring what the neighbors think.

Dirt is good.  Dirt is fantastic.  Dirt is fun.  An adventure isn't really an adventure unless you end up wearing some dirt. 

Cleanliness is overrated, folks.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

CNN's "The Next List" -- watch today! Plus...COUNTDOWN...

Tune in to CNN's "The Next List" today at 2pm to watch Sanjay Gupta's feature on Hugh.  It'll be a great show.  A bonus -- you might catch a glimpse of the girls...and a certain book could be mentioned...

We're in countdown mode!  Yesterday was TEN, today is NINE.....April 3 is right around the corner!

Speaking of April 3, come join the girls and me at Harvard Coop in Harvard Square (Cambridge, MA) at 7pm on April 3 to help celebrate Up's first day of publication!  We'll do a short presentation and a reading, and we'll be available for signings and Q&A.

Don't forget to "like" us on Facebook!  We have a very active account; there's a lot going on over there.

Enjoy your Sunday!

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Happy Birthday, Sage!

Seven years old today!

(Ten more days before Up: A Mother and Daughter's Peakbagging Adventure hits the shelves!!)

Friday, March 23, 2012

The Friday Wrap: Approaching the Ten Day Countdown

This Week's Wrap -- March 23, 2012:

UP: A Mother and Daughter's Peakbagging Adventure will be published April 3.  Tomorrow, we start the ten day countdown!  We're very excited for the launch!

I was the guest blogger for CNN's "The Next List" yesterday.  The televised half hour feature on Hugh and his work runs this Sunday, March 25, at 2pm EST.  It's going to be a great show, so be sure to catch it!

I've done several interviews this past week for newspapers and blogs.  Those interviews will go public soon after UP's publication date.  I'll post the appropriate links as each interview airs/is printed.

UP's received great reviews from Publishers Weekly, Kirkus, and many consumer readers.

All looks good.  We eagerly await our book signing on April 3 at Harvard Coop in Harvard Square.

On the hiking front...

Alex and I finished hiking the winter Four Thousand Footers last Saturday, so the last six days have been very relaxed and low-key.  No more fretting over forecasts, no more 4am alarm buzzers, no more two-ton backpacks.  Well...for now, anyway.  We'll undoubtedly get back out there in a few weeks...after we've taken a good breather.  We had a very busy and productive winter; now it's time for some rest.

Come back tomorrow for the ten day countdown!  April 3 is right around the corner!

Thursday, March 22, 2012

CNN's "The Next List" and Thursday Things

I'm honored to be today's guest blogger on CNN's "The Next List."  Check out my short essay on winter hiking Mt. Washington with Alex. 

Be sure to tune in to CNN on March 25 at 2pm EST to watch Dr. Sanjay Gupta's interview with Hugh.  The show is a half-hour feature dedicated to Hugh and his work.


We're making progress on our Thursday Things list, but since we didn't fully complete any one Thing last week, I can't provide a proper update.  We're close to making a decision on how to create a new face for our broken cabinet door (#95), but creative differences keep delaying the actual completion of that project.  We have to get it done soon; I'm tired of my utensils falling on the floor!  We're also almost finished with #19, try all the different kinds of cheese in the grocery store, and #31, watch/weed through all the educational DVDs in the house.  Now that the winter hiking season is over, we have more time to plan for and pursue our Things, so I should be able to report on at least one or two completed projects next week.

Come back tomorrow for the Friday Wrap!  We're getting close to UP's publication date -- the girls and I are very excited! 

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Wednesday Shout-Out: Adventure Parents

Mark Stephens of Adventure Parents
Photo taken from his site.

Are you a parent? Do you crave adventure? Are you wondering when you'll ever hit that trail/ride that bike/climb that crag again?

Check out Mark Stephen's website, Adventure Parents. It's a wonderful collection of stories about families who've figured out how to have fantastic outdoor adventures in spite of/because of their children.  It's a great site...and not just because we're on there.   These families rock.  There's the Jelinski family of five, who toured the world for 21-months in a Land Rover.  There's the video of the four-year-old lead climbing a 5-10b.    There's Daize Shayne Goodwin taking her 22-month-old surfing (the smile on that kid's face is one of pure joy).  There's...well, there's a lot!

Check out this site.  Having kids doesn't mean you have to stay home and lead the ho-hum family life.  You can still get out there and let your adventurous freak flag fly.  :)

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

The Tuesday Trip Report: Mt. Flume (Winter 4K #48). March 17, 2012

Lincoln Woods Trail, Osseo Trail, Franconia Ridge Trail.

11.2 miles roundtrip.

At long last, the final winter 4K hike!  As is so often the case in the Whites, the weather was odd.  Seven days earlier, Alex and I had ascended Mt. Washington in frigid temps and subzero windchills.  For Flume, we got summit temps in the 40s and valley temps in the 60s.  There is no such thing as predictable White Mountain weather.

Mike, a great fellow we met the previous week outside Lakes of the Clouds Hut, joined us, as did Mirabela and Isidora.  Isidora is 8 years old and a fantastic hiker; we've shared trails with her before, once on Hale and once on the way to Jackson.  We were happy to see this father-daughter duo again.

We made good time on the flat Lincoln Woods Trail...

...and soon arrived at the beginning of Osseo.

After a short break, we began the ascent.

After the rock steps, the snow became a soft, knee-deep mess.  Alex and Sage did well enough without snowshoes when they kept to the middle of the forming monorail, but the adults postholed in spite of our 'shoes and Hugh had a just plain horrible time.  He was wearing his Cheetahs instead of his usual bionic limbs.  The Cheetahs are great for bare or packed trail, but they're horrible for deep, soft snow.  I gave him a pair of the girls' snowshoes and, with some cords and tape borrowed from Mike and Mirabela, he attached them to his prosthetics.

Unfortunately, the snowshoes kept falling off. Hugh persevered, though his pace became extremely slow.  His Cheetahs are thin and narrow; imagine trying to walk on stilts through mushy, knee-deep snow, and you might get a sense of what he had to deal with.  He became worried about slowing us down and offered to turn back once he got to the ladders, but I knew how badly he wanted to be at the summit for Alex's finish, so I encouraged him to continue. 

The ladders were covered with sinking snow; grip wasn't a problem.

View from the "View" --

We reached the upper, flatter portion of the trail and, again, Hugh had problems.  The snow was soft and deep, and it was a real struggle for him to get through it.  Our pace slowed tremendously; I told Mike, Mirabela, and Isidora to go ahead and wait for us on the summit.  Hugh was tiring quickly and he began to worry he wouldn't make it to the top.  He's a strong fellow, but it's not easy to hike up a mountain through miles of deep snow, especially if you don't have legs.  Also, he recently had surgery on his neck.  Also also, he'd just spent a good portion of the previous day climbing for a work-related project.  Put all that together and you get one tired guy.  However, I knew he'd forever regret it if he wasn't there for Alex's finish, so I told him to take his time and keep on truckin'.  The day was warm, I had what we needed for a night out if it came to it, and the girls were going strong.  We'd be okay. 

We made it to the intersection with the Flume Slide Trail...

...and continued to treeline.

Mike, Mirabela, and Isidora had been waiting on the rocks just above the trees.  When they heard us coming, they continued toward the summit.

Mt. Flume, Alex's 48th winter 4K!

Hugh and the girls...

Isidora, Alex, and Sage...

Alex and Sage with two new friends...


It was lovely and warm above treeline.  We sat in the sunlight, conversed, shared food, and admired the views.  Eventually, we picked ourselves up and made our way down.

Hugh's progress on the flat bits between the Flume Slide Trail and the Osseo ladders was, again, slow -- the snow was now even more mushy and he had to move carefully so as not to constantly sink.  I told Mike, Mirabella, and Isidora that we didn't expect them to hike out with us, that it would be fine if they went ahead.  They graciously insisted on staying with us, though.  I was grateful to them for their company and support.

Life became much easier once we got to the ladders.  From that point on, Hugh was able to butt-slide/sled until we ran out of snow.  Once we got to the bare/spiny sections of trail, walking no longer became an issue.

We made it back to the trailhead just as the sun went down.  Here's my brilliant "finish photo" -- one of these years, I'll learn how to use my flash...

Mirabela graciously stepped in and took the following...

Many congrats to all three young ladies for an excellent hike.  Many, many thanks to Mike and Mirabela for their good company and help on the trail.

It's done!  At least, for Alex.  Sage now says she wants to do the winter 4Ks...if her sentiment doesn't change, then I guess I'll be doing this all over again next year.  :)

Monday, March 19, 2012

Monday Muse: Alex Finishes the Winter 4Ks

Many congratulations to Alex -- she's now climbed all 48 of New Hampshire's highest mountains during calendar winters; her final summit was Mt. Flume, which she ascended on March 17.  She's happy and proud of her accomplishment.

I'm happy and proud of her too.  Mostly, however, I'm relieved.

This has been a fun and worthwhile endeavor, but I did spend most of the last twelve weeks glued to various weather sites and losing a lot of sleep.  Though I don't regret one second of our adventures, I'm happy I no longer have to obsess about wind chills and ice conditions and visibility.

These mountains are tough.  Elevation gain is often over 4000 feet, and a good handful of these peaks require 10-18 miles of roundtrip, rough hiking.  The weather can be unpredictable and New Hampshire winters are snowy and COLD. 

Alex did good.  :)  I've watched her grow from a six-year-old who could only winter hike on packed snow to a nine-year old who broke trail up closed Zealand Road and most of Mt. Hale.  She used to depend on microspikes, now she's comfortable with Hillsound Pro Trail Crampons.  She's learned how to stay covered during wind chill advisories, and she's not afraid of hiking in cold, stiff wind (she enjoys that, actually).  Her endurance has increased to the point where 15-18 mountain miles feels routine.  It's been fun, watching her grow and thrive in the mountains.

Each of our winter 4K hikes was its own adventure, though Alex's three favorites were our trips up Jefferson, Washington and Monroe.  Her least favorite was our hike of East Osceola (so much work for a treed-in summit!).

Many thanks to Sage and Hugh, who have been consistently supportive.  Sage accompanied me and Alex on six winter 4Ks this year; my six-year-old daughter now has 14-mile Mt. Carrigain, the Tripyramids, Mt. Garfield, and Mt. Isolation in the bag should she decide to pursue the winter 4Ks next year.  Those are serious winter peaks!  My hat's off to her.

Thanks also to Mike Robertson, who watched our dog, Max, while we hiked.  We often made boarding arrangements at the last minute.  Mike knew of and supported our quest; we appreciated his flexibility and understanding, and Max appreciated having a warm and fun place to stay.

Thanks to Tim, Val, and Rick, who watched Sage during the times she did not want to hike and Hugh was unavailable.

48 mountains down, 0 hikes to go!

I'll post the trip report tomorrow evening.

Feels good to be done.

Want a free copy of Up: A Mother and Daughter's Peakbagging Adventure?

Check out my Facebook Page for details.

And -- a HUGE congratulations to Alex for finishing the winter 4K list on Saturday, March 17!  She has now WINTER hiked all 48 of New Hampshire's highest mountains.  I think, but am not 100% sure, that she is the youngest person to have accomplished this feat.  I'll post a detailed, combined Monday Muse/Tuesday Trip Report late this evening.

Friday, March 16, 2012

The Friday Wrap: Book Events, and the Winter 48

Tomorrow, Alex and I will embark on the last hike of our winter NH48 4K list.  We'll ascend Mt. Flume with Hugh, Sage, and a few of our friends.  It will be the end of a four year journey.
Alex and I are excited to finish.  I think she will be the youngest person to have hiked all 48 of New Hampshire's highest mountains strictly during winter seasons.  I'm not 100% sure about this, however, since the AMC doesn't keep strict "youngest" records when it comes to winter lists.

Sage told me tonight that she now wants to pursue the winter 4Ks, and that she'll start in earnest next year.  The adventures continue...

Recent book news:

We've added another book signing/presentation date to our calendar. 

We'll be at Water Street Bookstore in Exeter, NH on April 25 at 7pm.  Hope to see you there!

(Other book signing/presentation dates:

April 3 at 7pm: Harvard Coop in Harvard Square, Cambridge, MA
April 28th at 7pm: Father Roger Bilodeau Community Center, 194 Pollard Road, Lincoln, NH)

Kirkus, "The World's Toughest Book Critics," will post their review of Up next week.

CBS News will feature me on "Author Talk" soon after Up is published (April 3).  I'll post a link to that interview once it's gone live.

The above is in addition to the other media/events already on the table.  On Monday, I'll create a media/events section on this website and organize everything into one easy-to-access tab.

Have a great weekend, everyone!  To all the other people finishing various hiking lists and goals -- good luck and have fun!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Mt. Washington and Mt. Monroe (Winter 4Ks #46 and #47). March 10, 2012

Thirty years ago, Alex and Sage's father, then-17-year-old Hugh Herr, became lost on Mt. Washington after reaching the top of an ice climb.  Hugh and his friend, Jeff Batzer, spent four January days wandering about the Great Gulf in deep snow and frigid temperatures.  When they were found, they were close to death.  Hugh ended up losing both of his legs to frostbite.  Worse, a member of the search and rescue team, Albert Dow, died in an avalanche while trying to find the two lost boys.

Alex and Sage know of Albert Dow's sacrifice; Hugh's artificial limbs are a constant reminder.  Both my girls hold a lot in their hearts each and every time they venture up a peak.

Neither Alex nor myself were anxious to hike Mt. Washington during the winter.  We did not welcome the prospect of hiking the mountain that was the setting for so much pain.  However, Alex wanted to complete the winter 4K list, and that list includes Mt. Washington.  The hike was well within her capabilities, and I did not want to limit my daughter because of an accident that happened 21 years before she was born.  We therefore set our minds to the ascent.

Hugh did not protest.  He never does when it comes to the girls and their hiking, as long as I carry everything we need to spend an unexpected night out.  He leaves the planning to me, though he does ask questions (which I fully answer).  His trust in my judgment is and always has been 100%.  For that, I am profoundly grateful.

Alex and I needed a day with summit conditions of low wind speeds, decent visibility, and temperatures above 0 degrees F.  The weather forecasts pointed toward Saturday, March 10.

Our adventures began the night before, on the 9th, when I noticed one of Alex's hiking boots had a giant hole in its side; Alex had apparently sliced the fabric with her crampons on Mt. Jefferson.  I grabbed my American Express card and we made it to Lahouts one hour before they closed.  Thankfully, the store had one last pair of Sorels in Alex's size.

We went home and to bed.  At 3:30 in the morning, a city snowplow rumbled down our street.  Looking out the window, I saw four inches of fresh powder covering our extensive driveway.  I grabbed the shovel and spent the next hour removing snow by moonlight.  When I was finished, it was time to wake up Alex.

My daughter was unusually quiet on the way to the trailhead.  When I asked how she felt, she replied, "I'm a bit scared because of Papa's accident."  Nevertheless, she still wanted to give this hike a go, so we continued to Marshfield Station.

The morning was clear and beautiful when we arrived.

We walked up the road to the trailhead...

...and entered the woods.

As we approached Gem Pool, Alex once again expressed concern.  Specifically, she was worried that a spontaneous snowstorm would erupt and that we'd "get lost just like Papa did."  I reminded her of the forecast -- no snowstorms were expected.  I also reminded her of the gear I always carry on my back, and of the many people I knew we would see on the trails.  When we got to Gem Pool, I asked Alex if she was sure she wanted to continue.  She nodded, so we proceeded up the steeps.

The day brightened as we ascended, and Alex's spirits rose.  Soon, we were treated to views such as this...

My daughter's worries greatly subsided as the sun rose higher and higher.

Alex's confidence fully returned, and she soon began acting like her usual hiker self.

As we approached treeline, we were treated to more wonderful views...

We could see the tips of Mt. Washington's summit structures...

Up, up, up we went...

...until we reached Lakes of the Clouds Hut (closed for the season).

Alex jumped at the chance to do some "hut-bagging."

The wind was low and the sun was bright.  We waived to Mt. Monroe...

...and headed toward Mt. Washington's summit.

The (badly eroded) "Be Prepared" sign...

I wore MSR snowshoes and Alex wore Hillsound Pro Trail Crampons.  I didn't have any problems with my footing.  Alex, however, is sometimes too light for her crampons; the points don't sink into the ice as they would under an adult's weight.  I told her to stomp-step across the following snowfield but, in spite of her diligence, she slipped and fell.  Since I spot her very carefully whenever we're in such situations, I was able to quickly grab her and put her back on her feet.  We then made our way across the rest of the field in an incredibly slow and cautious manner.

The day was still bright and calm when we began the steeper ascent up the summit cone.

Soon, however, the fog rolled in and the wind picked up. 

We stopped a few tenths of a mile from the summit to layer up before continuing on our way.

Alex became more and more excited and happy as she approached the summit.  At one point, she stopped and said, "I feel like I'm going to cry."  I gave her a hug and told her to get on up there.

Hugh was with us, in spirit if not in body.  Here's Alex holding Hugh's scarf.  

A group arrived; one of the men offered to take our picture.

Alex took my camera and snapped some photos as the clouds descended, lifted, then descended again.

We joined a group of hikers by the entrance to the (closed for the season) Sherman Adams Summit Building.  Three walls blocked the increasingly strong and cold winds; this was a perfect spot for grabbing a quick bite before beginning our descent.  Alex and I ate happily, but both of us knew it was too early to celebrate.  The hard work wouldn't be over until we were back in the trees.

I changed into crampons for the descent and worried about the snowfields.  Thankfully, every person who came up while we were heading down informed me that the snowfield was no longer a cause for concern.  Apparently, many sets of crampons, snowshoes, and microspikes had crossed that section since our morning ascent and the 'field was now much easier to traverse.  Relieved, we made our way back to Mt. Monroe and the hut.

The others were right; there was a sunken path through the snowfield when we crossed it on the return trip.  We were extra-careful regardless, but we had no issues this time around.

After taking a break at the hut, we ascended Mt. Monroe.  The winds greatly increased their speed -- I was glad we already had Mt. Washington out of the way.

Here's Alex on the summit of Mt. Monroe.  The summit of Mt. Washington is behind her, hiding in the clouds.

We descended a few tenths of a mile down Ammo, found a calm place in the trees, and ate some peanut butter eggs.

Now -- NOW -- I could finally relax.  We sat and admired the amazing view...

Mt. Washington was out of the way.  Finally.  After months of anticipation, this hike was done.  Well, almost.  We still had to get to the trailhead...which we did fairly quickly, thanks to our 60mph butt-sliding.

Many thanks to Mike, the kind fellow we met at Lakes of the Clouds, who agreed to descend behind us on Ammo and re-chop the trail a bit so our butt-sliding wouldn't leave a long-lasting cement chute.  :)

I cannot properly describe the overwhelming sense of relief I felt as Alex and I walked back to our car.

Mt. Washington and Mt. Monroe were winter 4Ks #46 and #47.  Mt. Flume is the only peak we have left; we plan to ascend it this weekend.  After that, winter is over and we are done!

On a personal note, I'd like to say one final, very important thing.  To those search and rescue individuals who participated in the 1982 efforts to find and save Hugh Herr and Jeff Batzer -- thank you.  If it weren't for you, my daughters would not exist.  As a mother, from the bottom of my heart, thank you.