Author: Patricia Ellis Herr
Title: Up : a mother and daughter’s peakbagging adventure
Publication Info: New York : Broadway Paperbacks, c2012.
This book is the author’s story of taking up hiking with her 5-year-old daughter Alex and deciding to hike to the top of all 48 4000-foot peaks in New Hampshire’s White Mountains. Herr relates some of her early mistakes and some unexpected dangers (a sudden thunderstorm on an exposed peak or a violent bird on a trail). On and off the trail, Herr must face the judgment of others who think that Alex is too young to be participating in White Mountain Hikes. But she also receives a lot of support, including from a kilted hiker who goes by the name MadRiver, who becomes their greatest ally despite claiming not to like children. Alex troops onwards and upwards and in less than two years becomes one of the youngest people to ever summit all 48 peaks (although Herr is never specific about whether Alex is the actual youngest). The message is that anyone can do it, although in my most cynical moments reading this book I’d have to append that anyone can do it if they’re prosperous enough to home school, buy a second home in New Hampshire, and acquire thousands of dollars of hiking gear and clothing (the author is positively steeped in privilege and doesn’t seem to be aware of it). That being said, the heart of this book is the story of a mother and a daughter enjoying themselves outdoors in one of my favorite places, and the blessings of experiencing things through young eyes.
Recommended books: Grandma Gatewood’s Walk by Ben Montgomery, The Appalachian Trail Reader by David Emblidge, A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson, and The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon by Stephen King