On Highs and Lows: An Excerpt

Pictured above: my actual view from Mt. Washington after a storm ripped through…

Here’s an excerpt from my book and work-in-progress. Part Trail-journal, part philosophical inquiry, and part life-guide, this book is my lil’ baby and I can’t wait to show you guys snippets of it along the way.

The three of us huddle inside Lake of the Clouds Hut, on the flanks of Mt. Washington, watching through the porthole window as the storm rips across the mountain, a blanket of white engulfing the landscape. All-heart leaves to lay down in her bunk once the wind grows somewhat calmer, and I follow soon after. I gasp when I open the door, surprised at the spray of cool mist, made colder by the breeze. The earlier humidity is gone, and in its place is a swirling mist of clouds, rushing across the mountainside. I walk outside and stare around in awe, careful not to slip on the rocks. The landscape changes as I gape, slivers of sunlight breaking through the cloud cover. It’s ethereal, the most breathtaking thing I have ever seen.

“All-heart,” I yell into the dungeon, “you’ve got to come and see this.”

She joins me as I stand on a ledge, staring down into the mountainous valley. Clouds are boiling over the side like steam, pouring over the shorter mountains.

“Wow,” she breathes.

Costco appears quietly behind me. We stand admiring the view until he and All-heart wander off, looking for the best spot to take photos. I stare at the two of them, so small against the impossible swath of fog-clouds. The contrast of the chaos that howled through this spot merely a few minutes ago is juxtaposed against this expanse of gentle calm.

I contemplate other contrasts as well, comparing the feeling of standing here – nearly atop the tallest mountain in New Hampshire – against the dark days in Vermont where I was split wide open.

There, I wept from sadness. Now, I fight tears of joy and pure awe, my throat constricting. Everything the Trail has taught me feels gathered up inside this moment: I have learned I am strong, that I can push beyond my mental and physical breaking points. I have learned that it is a beautiful privilege to lean on people and let them lean on you.

Life is a study in contrasts, of light and shadow, grief and joy – both on and off Trail.

I always knew this, but this journey offers that lesson anew. I understand, now, in a raw and visceral way that the deepest of hardship can lead to times like this: standing atop a literal mountain, gazing into a valley below.

In this moment, I am alive and bright with friends I adore, and my chest grows heavy with something I cannot name, but something that isn’t dread or fear or frustration at the trail. Instead, it’s simple Being. A whisper of a thought: enjoy this. Be here, right now. Everything in me goes still with reverence and it hits that this is a day that will stay with me forever.


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I unpack existential topics and ask the questions people are too afraid to ask: What does it mean to Live? Why am I unsatisfied with my life? What is happiness, really? What the fuck is the point?

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