Following Atticus: Forty-Eight High Peaks, One Little Dog, and an Extraordinary Friendship by Tom Ryan is published by William Morrow. It tells the story of my adventures with Atticus M. Finch, a little dog of some distinction. You can also find our column in the NorthCountry News.

Thursday, January 03, 2008


(From time to time over the next few months I'll be posting words from some of you. I've invited those who have dedicated a peak to write something up about the pet they are honoring. Today's post is about Banshee, and is written by John Celenza.)

When thinking of Banshee it's hard for me to keep separate my interests in dogs from my enjoyment of hiking. I was involved with neither until 1990. Then, soon after moving from NYC to Cambridge, my wife and I got Banshee a four-month-old black Labrador Retriever. My wife was the dog person so this was a new experience for me.

Coincidentally, that year my co-workers convinced us to go on a Galehead to Greenleaf hut trip. This was also a new experience. So my wife and I bought hiking boots and starting going on weekly trips in the Middlesex Fells to prepare for the "expedition". It was great way to get Banshee some exercise. Well, we went on the hike (of course without Banshee), hated it, and immediately swore we would never climb mountains again. However, after the soreness disappeared, only the desire to go back remained and within a month we took Banshee up Mt. Cardigan.

In the next few years, this was followed by trips to many of the NH 4Ks including Garfield (pictured above), trips to Acadia National Park, and numerous woods walks in the Boston area.

Banshee, while not a particularly talented retriever, loved being out in the woods and could easily go all day.

In 1995 another black lab, Jet, joined our household and Jet and Banshee had several fun years hiking together. Unfortunately Banshee's hiking career was cut short at age 8. A week after we had hiked up to Kinsman Pond, Banshee developed a lameness that was caused by a nerve root tumor. Through the wonderful care of the Neurology and Oncology departments at Angell we were able to have Banshee with us for 11 more months, though his hiking was limited to short local walks.

Today we have three Labradors living with us all hike and participate in many dog sports. I completed the NH 4Ks last year and my wife is working currently on hers.
Thank you, Banshee.
~ John Celenza