Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Revisiting a favorite post with an Exciting Update

I first wrote this in January, 2008. It is one of my favorite posts and the one that is most often found on google because of the burgeoning fame of Tom and Atticus. They will be hiking this week with a film crew from Animal Planet who will feature Atticus in their show Dogs 101.

In September, 2006, Charlie and I spent a weekend hiking over the Wildcats and across the southern Carter range. As we climbed Carter Dome on the morning of our second day, we met a man who was hiking with his dog.

It isn't so unusual to see people hiking with dogs, but it is fairly unusual to see someone hiking up the rugged high peaks of New Hampshire's White Mountains with a schnauzer. We unconsciously alternated rest breaks with the man and his dog, stopping to exchange pleasantries each time one of us passed the other.

At a ledge over-looking Carter Notch and the hut, the man took a picture of us. Way down at the bottom of the picture, you can see the green roof of the hut. It obviously had been a steep climb for all of us--but for that little schnauzer?

Carter Dome, at a height of 4832 feet is the 9th highest of the White Mountains. When we made the summit, we had it to ourselves with no sign of the man and dog who had passed us again a little before. Despite its height, the summit of Carter Dome does not provide much of a view. Charlie, who had hiked the trail before, assured me that less than a mile to the north, Mt. Hight would provide a beautiful view across Pinkham Notch and the eastern side of the Presidential Range.

We kept at it--heading north on the Carter-Moriah trail to Mt. Hight. When we got there, it was more beautiful than I could have ever imagined. There was an undercast in the Notch and the Northern Presidentials poked up through it like islands in an ocean of clouds. The leaves were just starting to turn and the contrast of the clouds below the majestic peaks and then the blue sky was just incredible.

It's impossible to share such rare beauty with a stranger without feeling that you have slipped into friendship, so we shared the summit with the man and his dog and talked a bit about who we were and what we did and why we were climbing a mountain on a Sunday in September when the Red Sox were playing the Yankees.

The man's name was Tom and his dog was named Atticus. They lived in Massachusetts where he operated a controversial political newspaper. Tom and Atticus climbed 4000 footers every weekend year-round and were planning on hiking all 48 4000 footers two times the coming winter as a fund-raiser for the Jimmy Fund.

He told us about an internet hangout for hikers called Views from the Top and said he would sponsor us as members. C and I became avid readers of the posts on Views from the Top and our favorite poster of trip reports was, of course, Tom and Atticus. His writing was amazing. If the standard advice to writers is to write about your passion, he was clearly passionate about the mountains.

When I was a little girl growing up, my neighbor was an artist named Arnelda Richter. On a summer morning, she would find me knocking at the sliding glass door of her studio. She would let me in to watch her paint--I loved her artistry--especially her paintings of the ocean because she painted the ocean the way I saw it. As a child, I couldn't understand why others couldn't capture the ocean quite right--of course now I know that we all experience things differently. But just like my artist neighbor painted the ocean the way it was to me, Tom writes about the mountains the way I know them.

The man and dog are at it again, this winter attempting to climb all 48 4000 footers two times to raise money for MSPCA-Angell Animal Medical Center. Tom sold his newspaper last fall and moved up to New Hampshire to write and to hike with his companion, Atticus. I have never read his political writings, but his mountain writings are extraordinary. If you have ever wondered what it is like to climb mountains or to love a dog or to heal from heartbreak, Tom can tell you.


KaHolly said...

Beth, thank you for "revisiting" this post. It was very enlightening and I look forward to following Tom and Atticus up into the mountains.

Kallen305 said...

What a fascinating story with the man and his dog. I look foward to following this too.

Loveanewidea said...

Lovely post - and I continue to be impressed with your hiking abilities!

Nan said...

Beth, this is just great. Thanks so much. I'm embarrassed to say I've never heard of him, though I just read he had been written up in the local paper by Mike Dickerman. I'm so not a hiker that I didn't read it. ;<) But his blog, and his writing are quite wonderful. We had some excellent experiences many moons ago with Angell Memorial. Thanks again for drawing my attention to Tom and Atticus.

Anonymous said...

Interesting story and thanks for revisiting it.

Cindy said...

Hi, Beth, I remember reading this post in the past. I enjoyed it very much before but even more now. Probably won't get up there this week, but am planning to come up the week after Easter in April. Hope we can have a cup of tea then. I would also be interested in doing some hiking. My Dad always talked about hiking in the mountains but he passed away while I was in college so we never got to do that together. He lived in Gorham, NH and talks about leaving at midnight and reaching Washinton's summit for the sunrise. Have a great day

Thomas F. Ryan said...

Wow, Beth, the Little Bug and I are honored. Thanks for the repeat of this great write up.

We're getting ready for Thursday's taping. The Animal Planet crew will be following us around in Crawford Notch. Should be fun.

Even better news: I've dumped my literary agent and got an even better one. Last summer I signed on with one of the top agencies in the country but the agent so meddled with my style I lost it. Now it's back again, after too long being without it.

The new literary agent for "Following Atticus" is Brian DeFiore. He's the head of DeFiore & Company. DeFiore & Company handles all things Marley & Me.

We're looking forward to a great year.

Thanks again,
Tom (& Atticus)

KGMom said...

What a neat story--thanks for introducing me to Tom & Atticus.

Kathiesbirds said...

Beth, how inspiring all of this is. I shall have to go have a read!

beckie said...

Beth, I remember Tom and Atticus from your posts. Glad to hear they are still at it. A good cause to hike for-will have to watch the story about them. I enlarged the picture so I could see the green roof-oh my! You are really high up. Looks like you were having a great time. I know how much you love hiking .:}

Jayne said...

What a neat story Beth. I enjoyed reading Tom's blog and look forward to hearing even more about their adventures. :c)

The Texican said...

Hi Cuz, Just a note to let you know I'm still reading. I'm working out and trying to decide how and when to get to Maine. Pappy