#52 Starr-King: Excerpt

The sun sets on our journey, from atop Starr-King. Photo courtesy Tish Herr.

The sun sets on our journey, from atop Starr-King. Photo courtesy Trish Herr.

mn015946We stand alone, just below the summit of Starr-King with only 100 feet left to conclude our quest. Wet snow drips like rain from the branches above us. Steam rises from our clothes.

“What are they doing?” Janelle asks.

Alex and Sage have joined us on this final hike. The two left for the summit a few moments ago, along with their mom, Trish, and our friend Steve.

“They’re putting together a special summit welcome for you.”


There’s too much to say to her. After more than a year, after all this quest has cost us, after all we’ve grown and changed, to be steps away is nearly too much to bear. She is bursting with energy; jittery, unable to stand still.

I only have a few seconds, but I simply cannot form the right words.

So, I get down on my knees in the snow, and turn her toward me. She’s smiling, icy snow dripping off her eyelashes, cheeks beet red. I pull my hiking partner to me and hug her. With gloves and over full packs, the hug feels clumsy. Snow sitting atop our shoulders and hats runs down our backs, but I hold on for a little too long and thankfully she lets me.

I straighten up and take a deep breath. “This is it.”


“How do you feel?”


I pause and she looks at me, waiting to be released. “Ok, go get it…”

Tough Cookie turns back to the trail, and forges ahead, confident, strong and sure; my powerful spider monkey moves away from me and up into the sun.

Mt. Starr-King (11/11/12)

Height: 3,907 feet

Location: Jefferson. I-93 north to Exit 35 to Route 3 north to Route 115north to Route 115A to Route 2 through Jefferson, trailhead at end of Starr King Road on left.

Our trailhead: Starr King Tail up and back, including Waumbek. (Warning: During winter, you may have to park in lot a few hundred feet west of dirt road.)

Distance: 7.2 miles.

At the summit of Tough Cookie's first 4,000 footer, Mt. Waumbek.

At the summit of Tough Cookie’s first 4,000 footer, Mt. Waumbek.

Well, it’s been quite a ride, and the good news is that the adventure is just beginning!

Join us on Thursday for an update. Where are we? Where are we heading? And what’s next for Buffalo and Tough Cookie.

We’ll also have a report on Janelle attaining her first 4,000 footer, Mt. Waumbek.

Until then, on behalf of Janelle and myself, thank you all for being part of this quest. We can’t wait to turn the page and get going on the next chapter! We hope you’ll all join us!

Categories: Excerpts and 52WAV Mountain Stats | Tags: , , | 4 Comments

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4 thoughts on “#52 Starr-King: Excerpt

  1. Nancy

    I know part of my emotional reaction right now is having just read about CT, then this, but, man … you know how to wrench my heart right out of me, yanking tears down my face as you go! This is powerful, very wonderfully powerful writing, Dan. Thank you.
    Thank you both – you ALL – for giving us this experience.

  2. Jackie V

    Dear Janelle and Dan! What a trip you have both encountered and attained! You are such a great and powerful writer Dan! Keep up the good work and Tough Cookie..keep it going! Yeah to both of you! Merry Christmas! Sr. Jacqueline

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