Up: A Mother and Daughter's Peakbagging Adventure

Up: A Mother and Daughter's Peakbagging Adventure

4.0 11
by Patricia Ellis Herr
     
 

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When Trish Herr became pregnant with her first daughter, Alex, she and her husband, Hugh, vowed to instill a bond with nature in their children. By the time Alex was five, her over-the-top energy levels led Trish to believe that her very young daughter might be capable of hiking adult-sized mountains.

In Up, Trish recounts their always exhilarating--and

Overview

When Trish Herr became pregnant with her first daughter, Alex, she and her husband, Hugh, vowed to instill a bond with nature in their children. By the time Alex was five, her over-the-top energy levels led Trish to believe that her very young daughter might be capable of hiking adult-sized mountains.

In Up, Trish recounts their always exhilarating--and sometimes harrowing--adventures climbing all forty-eight of New Hampshire's highest mountains.  Readers will delight in the expansive views and fresh air that only peakbaggers are afforded, and will laugh out loud as Trish urges herself to "mother up" when she and Alex meet an ornery--and alarmingly bold--spruce grouse on the trail. This is, at heart, a resonant, emotionally honest account of a mother's determination to foster independence and fearlessness in her daughter, to teach her "that small doesn't necessarily mean weak; that girls can be strong; and that big, bold things are possible."

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Taking her five-year-old daughter on ambitious back-packing adventures in the White Mountains of New Hampshire earned author Ellis Herr flak from her blogging audience as well as an enormous sense of accomplishment. In fact, as she recounts in this charming, uplifting account, Ellis Herr and her daughter, Alex, climbed all 48 of New Hampshire’s highest (4,000-plus feet) peaks from 2008 to 2009 to become members of the Four Thousand Footer Club, sponsored by the Appalachian Mountain Club. Alex was a super-charged kid with a lot of stamina; the daughter of notable climber Hugh Herr, whose frozen legs were amputated at age 17 in 1982 after he and a friend were lost for three days in a snowstorm while climbing Mount Washington, Alex rarely complained, but learned to be cautious while climbing and employ safety techniques enforced by her mother. Braving the elements, especially the rotting snow in spring, sudden storms, and aggressive grouse, and ignoring criticism by importunate fellow climbers who questioned Ellis Herr’s intentions in taking her daughter up the mountains (“A little girl like you shouldn’t be trying to hike such a big, grown-up mountain,” they were told), Ellis Herr and Alex spent a happy year and a half scaling the peaks, recording their treks, and silencing the critics. Would people have wondered at their feat if Alex had been a boy? Ellis Herr wonders, rendering this a keen feminist fable for brave girls. (Apr.)
From the Publisher
"Charming [and] uplifting...a keen feminist fable for brave girls."
—Publishers Weekly

"Herr’s prose...captures the joy of being on the trail...More than anything, the narrative serves as an apt landscape for a mother to reflect on her choices and on her struggle with how to explain life’s unfairness (sexism, cruelty of nature, distrust of strangers) to her daughter while continuing to nurture the innocent joys of fleeting childhood. Warmly ruminative and honestly observant."
—Kirkus

"As someone who has struggled to keep up with Alex on a pair of New Hampshire 4,000ers in winter, I can testify first- hand to what a remarkable hiker and person she is. Trish Herr's charming memoir distills the lessons she learned on the trail with her precocious daughter. Up offers a welcome corrective to the Tiger Mother syndrome."
—David Roberts, author of Finding Everett Ruess: The Life and Unsolved Disappearance of a Legendary Wilderness Explorer

“As a parent of two kids myself, I'm always working for more quality time with cell phones and computers turned off. Some of my best times have been kayaking, hiking, and skiing with my family. It's the stuff life is built on. So I love this mother-daughter tale of sharing something beautiful and profound together and building upon those shared experiences. It's what every family should emulate. The delightful stories put a smile on my face as they brought back memories of my daughter when she was Alex's age. And it warmed my heart as they reached each summit together.” 
— Erik Weihenmayer, author of Touch the Top of the World: A Blind Man’s Journey to Climb Farther than the Eye Can See and The Adversity Advantage: Turning Everyday Struggles into Everyday Greatness

"What is more striking than the breathtaking vistas they are rewarded with at the top — including double rainbows — are the mountains of emotions Herr expresses as she observes her daughter growing, not just in hiking skills, but in wisdom about people, learning lessons useful in life: Joy, love, and amazement." — BOSTON GLOBE

"An entertaining read....UP perfectly captures the roller coaster ride of parenting." — CONCORD MONITOR

"Inspiring and enjoyable." — MAINE SUNDAY TELEGRAM

"Herr’s account is really half hiking reference manual and half meditation on how to instill independence and confidence at a young age—an odd and oddly compelling combination." — BOOKPAGE

Kirkus Reviews
A mother and her young daughter bond through hiking. When Herr and her husband bought a weekend home in the mountains, the author learned of the Four Thousand Footer Club, a group of "peakbaggers" who have climbed all 48 mountains in the New Hampshire Whites, whose summits rise above 4,000 feet. She proposed to her 5-year-old daughter Alex, a precocious and energetic nature lover, that they attempt the club together, and she immediately agreed. The author clearly states her parenting philosophy--"children should be met where they're at, intellectually and otherwise"--and she presents her daughter as a fully formed person with her own capabilities and goals that drive her enterprise, rather than as a cute little body along for the ride and some comic relief. Like most nature-adventure memoirs, this one leverages ready-made life metaphors, which Herr captures effectively and sincerely, if a bit predictably. Herr divides the chapters into life lessons learned from experiences on the trail: "Know What You're Getting Into," "Ignore the Naysayers," "Mistakes Have Serious Consequences," etc. The latter chapter, about how Herr's husband lost his legs to frostbite from being trapped for three days in subzero temperatures (see Alison Osius' Second Ascent for the full story), lends additional weight to the story. After 15 months of peakbagging, Alex reached her final summit; by this time she was a minor celebrity in the local hiking community. Herr's prose sufficiently captures the joy of being on the trail, though perhaps not forcefully enough to make converts out of city slickers. More than anything, the narrative serves as an apt landscape for a mother to reflect on her choices and on her struggle with how to explain life's unfairness (sexism, cruelty of nature, distrust of strangers) to her daughter while continuing to nurture the innocent joys of fleeting childhood. Warmly ruminative and honestly observant. Witty, unforced humor rescues passages that might be boring in another writer's hands.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780307952080
Publisher:
Crown/Archetype
Publication date:
04/03/2012
Sold by:
Random House
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
256
Sales rank:
706,021
File size:
3 MB

Meet the Author

PATRICIA ELLIS HERR holds a master's degree in biological anthropology from Harvard University and homeschools her two daughters. She lives in Massachusetts and New Hampshire.

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Up: A Mother and Daughter's Peakbagging Adventure 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 10 reviews.
DanSz More than 1 year ago
Patricia Herr's memoir/adventure tale tells the story of then 5-year-old Alex's efforts to hike all 48 of New Hampshire's 4,000 foot mountains. Alex finished in one year and three months, becoming the second youngest girl hiker ever to do so. The book itself is a personal reflection on what's good and empowering about kids. As you'd expect from two girls who are able to accomplish the kind of complex goals Alex and her sister, Sage, have, as characters in the book, they aren't cute or treated as subjects in America's Funniest Home Videos. Herr's remarkable strength as a writer is to offer her family to readers as fully formed and developed human beings. Kids yes, but kids with as much strength and will and ability as any adult. As anyone who has ever had kids knows, you just can't force kids up mountains if they don't want to go. One, sure. Two maybe. But 48? No way! Trish supports her amazing daughter's efforts, but it's Alex who is the trooper in this book, proving time and time again that small does not mean weak. The book is a quick but wonderful read for anyone with kids who wants a powerful and inspirational example of kid power. But you don't have to have children to enjoy the adventure.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I bought the book for my daughter. She is a new mom of a beautiful baby daughter. My daughter lives in Northern New Hampshire and hiking with her new daughter is her dream! She got to page 149 and the book was missing the next 30 pages! But our local Barnes and Noble is replacing the originally book at no cost. She did say that to page 149 the book is great!
DiamondRIdge More than 1 year ago
This book is a heart warming tale of a mother and daughter falling in love with the mountains. Their bond deepens with shared experience. Its a beautiful story, written in simple language and fit to be shared.
Anonymous 7 months ago
R u an gavin still toghether
Anonymous 8 months ago
Wow gavin yost is that you o my gosh i heard ur cool
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
U do to me ur craziest dirties dreams ;)
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
When life hands you a lemon, make _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Not compelling; 4th grade level-
MadRiverRK More than 1 year ago
When Trish first told me she was writing a memoir about her hikes with Alex I just assumed it would be an extension of her trip reports that we all write from time to time where we record our hikes and then post them on various hiking boards for other hikers to read and critique. Little did I realize as I began reading that it would turn out to be so much more than just a chronicle of their hikes together, but her dreams and desires for Alex as she explores the world around her laced with its joys and sorrows that we all must experience in everyday life. Some parents try to protect their children against the perils that the world has to offer even to the detriment of the child who will learn late in life that the world is not fair. Alex will have no such handicap, for she was told and shown very early in life how the world can be a joyous place, yet has the capacity for cruelty as well. Each chapter becomes a classroom as Trish and Alex leave a trailhead and hike to a far off peak encountering some of nature’s wonders as well as her dangers. Not every peak is mentioned in the book and I thought it odd why some were omitted; particularly the North Slide of the Tripyramids, which has turned grown men and women into sniveling puddles of humanity, yet Alex scampered up the slabs with the aplomb of a seasoned hiker. Once I finished the book I realized that UP is not a trip report, but a mother and daughters’ journey of discovery. On a personal note, I have hiked with Trish, Alex and Sage on a number of occasions and have witnessed firsthand Trish’s gentle teaching style and I have no doubt both Alex and Sage will achieve whatever goals or aspirations they set out to conquer in life and this will be accomplished by no small measure due to their childhood filled with wonder and adventures guided by the loving hand of their mother. I love all three, yet Alex holds a special place in my heart for she is an old soul, one who has wisdom, poise, and grace far beyond her years and I suspect that she will be the one to scatter my ashes over West Bond when the time comes. Though don’t rush me on that last point.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
An advanced reader copy of this book was passed on to me and I accepted it because it looked interesting. I never finished it. Patricia Ellis Herr may or may not be a good mom but she's not much of a writer. I had to force myself to get as far as I did. I think this probably would have been a good magazine piece - written by someone else. While it has nothing to do with the writing style, I'm not sure I would push my child as much as she did hers. I couldn't tell whether she was doing it for her daughter or for herself.