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Up: A Mother and Daughter's Peakbagging Adventure Paperback – Apr 3 2012


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Broadway Books (April 3 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 030795207X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0307952073
  • Product Dimensions: 20.3 x 13 x 2 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 259 g
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #383,443 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)


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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Absolutely wonderful book! Charming, inspiring, and uplifting. A pure joy to read, and to top it off, i am now adding to my bucket list, that i want to climb one (or more) of the 4000ks! :)
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Amazon.com: 70 reviews
14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
Late to the game? Bring your kid! May 20 2012
By eyecore - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product
There sure are a lot of hiking stories/memoirs getting published lately. This one brings something new to the table: a child, while, unfortunately not the main "character," is the main focus of the story. That is, the daughter in the story is the one trying to achieve the goal of hiking the 4000ft summits. While this has a likelihood of greatly appealing to those of us with kids, the book itself is lacking in a very important facet.

So mom and daughter start hiking, and soon daughter decides she wants to hike all the peaks. OK, interesting enough. The book discusses the mom's feelings of how things are going, how great mom thinks her daughter is, how mom has to explain to daughter about bigotry in the world, how mom "casually suggests" how advanced daughter is for her age, how mom...wait a minute! I wanted to hear more about the DAUGHTER. You know, the 5 year old that mom has to defend when other hikers thinks she's crazy for bringing her out. Yeah, the same 5 year old that mom has to watch out for when weather turns bad, and that mom...

Granted, a book written by a 6 or 7 year old isn't going to be great, but the insight into what the kid is thinking is so thin that, to me, the book basically turned into a "My daughter is great, and here is proof that she's great, and I'm a great mother." Roughly the equivalent of talking to any stranger about their kids.

Perhaps my hopes were inflated after having read AWOL on the Appalachian Trail and Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail, which are about vastly different things from each other and this book, but all have the whole nature aspect in common and are much stronger titles and provide a more interesting storyline than "Up."

Too much mom and not enough daughter for me...might want to look into other similar books before getting too involved with this one. (Of course, if you're a mom wanting to do something special with your daughter, chances are you're going to end up with this one.)
16 of 18 people found the following review helpful
Feisty, but somewhat over-thought May 9 2012
By Dienne - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product
I basically enjoyed Patricia Ellis Herr's account of her year spent hiking all forty-eight 4,000+ peaks in the state of New Hampshire with her five-year-old daughter Alex (and sometimes three-year-old Sage as well). Herr and her daughters are clearly plucky, confident and strong young ladies who not only bit off an ambitious project but doggedly chewed it to the finish. The story is easy reading and engaging enough that I cared about Alex and cheered for her when she achieved her goal by summiting 4,802 foot Mount Mousilauke, although I never doubted along the way that she could do it.

That said, there are some elements of Herr's writing style and tone that set me a bit on edge and spoiled the reading experience for me. Primarily my concern is that she focuses too much on finding Messages in each experience and hitting her readers over the head with them rather than just letting the story - and Alex's bold personality - unfold naturally and allowing readers to take their own messages from it. The result is oftentimes clunky, self-conscious, over-thought and occasionally rather defensive.

One of the best illustrations of this is the chapter entitled "To Get Where She Wants to Go, a Girl Must Punch Through Rotting Snow". This hike, Alex's thirtieth peak, takes place in early spring, a time when the snow on the mountains is melting and mushy, making the going quite rough as one frequently plunges thigh-deep into the slushy stuff. Along the way Alex says, "Jacob told me I can't be good at math because I'm a girl." Now, call me simplistic, but this seems like a no-brainer to me for someone whose daughter has hiked twenty-nine mountains: "Yeah, and you're not supposed to be good at climbing mountains either because you're a girl. So what do you think about such silly ideas?" But instead, Herr takes the next thirteen pages to anguish over how to handle this and ruminate on all the injustices of gender discrimination and the progress - and lack thereof - of the feminist movement.

Herr's first mistake is to point out to Alex that she is two grade levels ahead of Jacob in math. That information, even if true, is not only not Alex's business, but, more importantly, irrelevant to the point at hand. Alex's and Jacob's relative performance is immaterial to the issue of whether or not boys are better at math. Even if Alex were behind Jacob in math, it wouldn't' be proof that boys are better, just as Alex being ahead of Jacob doesn't mean that girls are better. Her kid doesn't have to be the best, or even better than another child, to be just as good as a boy.

Herr then speculates on how Jacob got into making such comments, because his own mother, a friend of Herr's, doesn't tolerate "sexist comments", so he must have learned it from some other boy. Herr decides it must be the influence of a new boy who saw Alex and "sniffed, "I don't like girls," turned on his heals, and stalked off." Well, that settles it then, let's blame him. Alex, of course, was hurt by this experience of "gender discrimination." Oh, please, little boys not wanting to play with little girls is not "gender discrimination" any more than the reverse is. It's just fairly typical early childhood behavior to want only same-gender friends. Of course, being excluded hurts under any circumstances and I don't mean to minimize that. But I think Herr could have discussed that without the whole history of the American woman.

My other issue is the fact that Herr seems utterly unaware of just how privileged she is. In the introduction, she encourages all of us to pursue our big, grand and daring dreams and, "don't automatically shrug and assume that you're too young, too old, too weak, too busy, too poor, too frazzled, or too small." Good points certainly, but they sound a little hollow from someone who has had the luxury to chose to be a stay at home mom and the education and resources to do it well enough to provide her daughters (and herself) with deeply enriching experiences. Someone who can afford a vacation home in New Hampshire and a regular home in Massachusetts. Someone who can afford over $8,000 just for winter hiking and camping gear, nevermind all the other gear. Someone who has the time, money and ability to travel not only all over New Hampshire, but over the whole U.S., including Hawaii. While many of us may dream of taking our daughters (and sons) on grand adventures, few of us have the resources Herr has been blessed with, and such obstacles cannot be lightly dismissed with a breezy injunction to, "learn, persevere, sweat!"

Don't get me wrong. I'm very happy for Ms. Herr and her ability to provide such amazing experiences for her daughters. I'm sure that Alex and Sage will grow up to be strong-willed, independent-minded women who will make their marks on the world and probably make it a better place. I wish that every child would have the kind of childhood they are having in which their ideas are taken seriously and even their wildest dreams can come true. I salute Ms. Herr for having the courage to take the road less traveled and daring to be different. But the message that everyone can do it if they just try and work hard enough is a bit too simplistic and, frankly, cheesy. Of course we can all make great strides in life if we set our minds to it, but we all start at different places, so we might not all be able to make the same goals.
22 of 26 people found the following review helpful
A wonderful enterprise, but too much extra baggage May 25 2012
By T.M. Reader - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product
OK, I'll be one of the few that are not going to offer a glowing endorsement of this bizarre travel/adventure book. (But stay with me, it ends on a surprising up-note).

I'll cede the obvious here, which is that the notion of taking one's child on a series of challenging outdoor adventure hikes is a wonderful thing: Wonderful one-on-one time with the child. Wonderful physical exercise and accomplishment. Wonderful learning experience and confidence builder. Wonderful exposure to the beauty of creation.

I decided to read this book after having just read Joe Glickman's, To the Top and am considering some peak climbing projects with my young grandsons. But the beauty of the whole package as I worked through Up was increasingly ruined for me as I was repeatedly distracted by the author's "baggage".

To be fair, Patricia Herr, or rather Patricia Ellis Herr, has accomplished some great things here. The personal climbing achievements with her daughter Alex, and the permanent gift of the memories and confidence will remain. And recording it all in book form. Nice accomplishment. Nice that Herr is financially privileged to have the resources to do all of this (vacation home and travel budget, homeschooler with open schedule, rock-solid wage earner husband). Wealth honestly earned is always deserved, so I have no problem there. But . . .

I guess I am just a different kind of person than Herr. When I give thanks to a diety, it's always to the God of the bible, not to "Mother Earth". That grated on me. When I drop an M&M on the trail, I'll just leave it for the squirrels (or pick it up and eat it) rather than collect it for packing out and eventual transfer to the local landfill. It's just food. Let it lay. (Uh, so what does one do with "bodily waste materials"? Collect and pack that out too?). I still drive old-fashioned American branded cars (why did she need to share with me that she brakes for animals in her Honda Civic). Each to his own, but don't preach at me (subliminally or otherwise). When hiking, I LOVE a cold Big Mac. Herr prefers ORGANIC energy bars. (Interestingly, I can just burn the Big Mac wrapper, but a foil organic energy bar wrapper will have to be packed out). And I am very proud of my children and enjoy talking about them . . . but I try to refrain from excessively boring other parents with the recounting of endless minutia and constant parental doting, thus respecting their own preference for their own children. (Newsflash - almost all 5 year olds have lots of energy and are inquisitive). When on outings (hiking, foreign travel, motorcycling) I prefer minimalism - taking along as little "stuff" as possible. Herr seems to prefer packing along as much as she can phyically carry. Reading between the lines, I believe it is a manifestation of fear and insecurity. Lots of fear and insecurity. It comes through clearly.

These above opinions were all formed BEFORE I reached the chapter, "To Get Where She Wants to Go, a Girl Must Punch Through Rotting Snow". Before I quote directly from that chapter, allow me to set the stage here: I am an adult male. Educated. Bright. Fairminded. Father of two daughters that each own their own businesses. I opened this book for guidance on mentoring my grandsons via peak hiking/climbing. That the author here was female was of no consequence to me. I considered her an equal as a person, and superior to me in her knowledge of strenuous hiking with children. Yet in the subject chapter where the author is having a trailside counseling session with her six year old daughter, she counsels the young girl, and I quote, "If a man tells you that you're not allowed to do something because your a woman, then you can have the government make him do the right thing. Grown men can lose their jobs or be made to pay a large fine if they don't allow women the same rights as men . . . ." I suggest that Herr stereotypes and underrates men, just as she overrates the efficacy our government. There is much such tripe in this book. I also suggest that Herr is exposed as a feminist extremist, as much misguided as the "sexists" that seem to haunt her thought life. She appears thoroughly indoctrinated and apparently lets this baggage define who she is. It ruins the book.

In closing, I started this book eagerly, with a genuine interest in the topic material. My attitude was strongly positive. Unfortunately, I grew to actually dislike the author . . . a lot. However, I stuck with and finished the book, persistent in my quest for hiking knowledge while the reading experience morphed into one of those, "I hate this so much I'm enjoying it" things. Then, I found a rather pleasant surprise near the end. In the closing chapters, "Enjoy the Journey While It Lasts" (the completion of the 48 peak 4000 foot checklist with daughter Alex), and "Keep Moving Forward" (the author ruminates on her whole family, her own role, and the significance of all of this peak climbing), a new Patricia Herr seems to reveal herself. Kind and appreciative of others. Finally acknowledging some of her own limtations and longings. A genuine loving mother and wife, and brave rather than scared as she shares some choices she has made that do indeed represent independent thinking. Even wise in many respects. I wish that would have been the tone from the start.
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
Cute Tale, But Why Really Was It Written? June 1 2012
By Lois Lain - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product
Little people can do big things. That, in a sentence, seems to be Patricia Ellis Herr's theme behind "Up: A Mother and Daughter's Peakbagging Adventure." The book is a memoir that traces author and her five-year-old daughter, Alex, as they attempt to join the Four Thousand Footer Club, ascending all 40-some of New Hampshire's 4K-plus peaks.

Herr makes it clear that it's all driven by Alex, and if the way the little girl is portrayed is accurate, then I buy that. Alex seems to have been born with an old soul, an abundance of energy, and no concept of the idea of limits. Very cool!

But I'm less sure that the idea behind the book is as altruistic. It wavers between parental advice ("...I think that children are for more capable than most adults realize. Sometimes they just need to be reminded of their own strength."), feminist treatise ("...Nothing much happens to boys who say sexist things to girls.") and love letter ("...Love for my child overwhelms me; it threatens to flatten me. I am so lucky to have this incredible, strong, intelligent little girl in my life!"). And all of that isn't bad, per se, but it does muddy the water a bit, as do the not-infrequent sidebarring into "Why I Never Finished my Harvard PhD" and "Why I'm a Stay-At-Home Mom." I honestly didn't care that much if she were a rocket scientist with a string of initials after her name or if she were a high school dropout. It's Alex who's the interesting one (sorry, Mom!).

The book succeeds when the focus is kept on the idea of mother and child accomplishing something together, and equipping your kids to reach their dreams. It falters when it takes on a preachy tone ("...Couldn't I be a proper modern-day woman, stick my babies in day care, and stay the course?"). The judgmental tone, intended or not, will alienate some readers unnecessarily. I had to bite my tongue more than a few times.

All the same, the book was well-written and an enjoyable, quick read. It definitely made me question the limits I place on my kids. And while I won't be joining the 4K club, I may tackle a hike or two this summer.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Three is not a Crowd July 13 2012
By WR - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I too am a member of the 4,000 footer club, having "bagged" all 48 peaks. I could relate to the descriptions of all the hikes and trails that were mentioned although I did not do any of the 4 K's in the winter. So, yes, I enjoyed the book from that standpoint. It was descriptive and well written.

I'm not one to criticize Ms. Herr for taking a 5 year old on the quest to hike all 48 peaks. She knows her own daughter and it sounds like the child liked it (most of the time). I too believe that girls/women can and should be encouraged to challenge themselves. BUT, having said that, I do think Mom took some risks that were clearly not necessary. Going on a hike, off season, in NH to an isolated peak like Moriah without another adult was foolhardy. If she (the Mom) had been injured, and couldn't continue, her 5 year old would have had to come down the mountain alone and then seek help - perhaps flag a car down on route 16? That is just one example. I think Mom should at least have had another adult along for some (if not most) of these hikes. "Three" is not a crowd on the mountain, especially in winter and spring.

Ms. Herr talks a lot about giving up a career, choosing to home school her children, and doing all the wonderful things for her daughters that her free time allowed. I don't question her choices, but they seemed to come with some implied sense of superiority over those who might make other choices. When Alex asks: "Other Mothers work outside the home. Are they wrong?", the author answers "I can't know what's best for other mothers and their children. I know only what's best for me and for the two of you."

Tepid answer to say the least. The question was "Are they wrong?" The answer should have been "It's not a matter of right or wrong. Most Moms dearly love their children as much as I love you and Sage. Working outside the home doesn't mean they love their kids any less or that they are wrong to want to do that. It's a choice based on what is best for them and their family, just as I have made a choice on what's best for me and the two of you."

To Alex: You're older now but good for you for accomplishing this feat at such a young age. You did it! Congratulations and best wishes to you and Sage for many more challenging and SAFE hikes.

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