Last Sunday I notched off two more peaks, Middle and South Carter. Drove up at the crack of dawn with Paul Goudarzi-Fry to meet his mom, Laura Fry and her husband Calvin Dowling. Laura brought her dog Skippy, who is an avid hiker. Laura is notching off the 4Ks, too. She’s got fewer than I do to go. But less time to do them in. She’s a doctor, with lots of demands on her time. Her son, Paul, is a friend of my son Max. They went to Concord High together. Paul is how I got to meet Laura.
Paul and I listened to The Alchemist on the way up to pass the time on the two and a half hour ride. It put us in a rather interesting mindset for the hike. When we came out on Imp Face, a ledge with a glorious view of the Presidential Range, Laura said, “For me, this is attending Church!” I thought, She is listening to the mountains speak. She is understanding the language of all things.
On the way up, I tended to get ahead of the others, except for Paul, who is young, and Skippy, who has more legs and much more energy. I find I can get into a Zen-like space, just taking small, regular steps and breathing deeply. I can plod along for long stretches without thinking much about it. It’s easier going up, with only my wind and heart rate to concern me. Going down, I’m tired and my muscles are tired, and I have to watch where I put my feet, trying not to slip or lose my balance or get thrown by a loose rock. I find going down more fatiguing in some ways than going up.
So I fell behind once we got to the ridge. I worked hard to get up there. I wanted to linger. And descending I fell back further still. At one point Calvin asked me if I wanted Paul to take my pack for me. I think he was concerned that the weight of it was slowing me down. I was deliberately carrying more weight than I needed to (including three frozen liters which gradually thawed and provided wonderfully refreshing ice water over the course of the hike). I’m trying to build up strength and endurance for hikes later that summer where I’d have to carry a tent and other camping gear. My Deuter pack is actually splendid in its weight distribution, and I don’t mind it much at all. Not until it gets up over 25 lbs. does it really start to feel onerous.
No, I was just slow because I was reluctant to hurry away the experience. Discarding the weight of the pack wouldn’t have made much difference.
So now I am down to 13 peaks.
As for the novel, I have revised 36 pages of text, much of it new material. That works out to about 8K words. It’s not polished, and I’ll be going back at some point to edit ruthlessly. The original draft was 76K. I’ve already added about 3K to it. But I know there is a lot of material that needs to be tossed out and tightened up. And I don’t like the ending.
I originally wrote it in first person. I started to rewrite it in third person. But about half-way into chapter two I began to realize that it was losing some of its flavor. The narrative voice of the main character is quite distinctive. It is her story. I’d best let her tell it in her own way. So I went back and undid my third person revisions. I’ll lose some opportunities to spy on scenes with other characters where she isn’t present, but I’ll just have to figure a way around it. This is how it needs to be.
So now I am about done with the set-up and I have Rachel established in her uncle’s renovated camp in the mountains, at the edge of the wild places. I’m ready to bring in the two other players who will triangulate the main drama of the rest of the book.