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.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Want To Hike With Tom & Atticus?

Here's your chance to follow Atticus to an autumn view similar to this one.

Our favorite thing to do is to find a mountain without anyone else on it.  It's our preferred method of hiking - if we want to be around people we can head to Starbucks.  Over the past eight years the vast majority of our hikes have been just Atticus and me.  As a writer I like the solitude.  As a man I enjoy the peace, tranquility, and spirituality found on a quiet peak.  As an individual Atticus does well with crowds but he'd rather be away from them.  And Atticus is definitely not a "let's hang out with other dogs" kind - especially on mountains. He enjoys a brief hello, but that's about it - and because of that I can count the number of times we've hiked with other dogs on one hand.

However, one of us is about to change, while the other stays in his comfort zone when we invite twelve people to join us on a hike on Saturday, October 5, 2013.  (Rain date October 6.) We'll be inviting six individuals and three couples to climb a mountain with us. (Unfortunately for those who want your dogs to meet Atticus, no dogs will be allowed.  He just wouldn't enjoy it and it's too unpredictable to subject him to that for several hours on the trails.   Since Atticus will be going through chemo treatments, it's just one more reason I will make sure he's comfortable and not harried by other friendly but enthusiastic dogs.  Sorry about this.) 

For those who are used to hiking, it will be a moderate trek of four to six miles, but it won't be easy.  You'll feel it and you'll most likely be stiff and aching afterward.  Some will probably even feel it the next day.  Because of that we're asking only those who actually think they can handle a tough workout to consider joining us.  And for those who say the White Mountains are nothing compared to the Rockies, which are 10,000 feet higher, don't be so quick to judge.  The elevation gain is often the same and these trails are pretty rugged and tougher than in most other places in the country.  In short, while the hike will not be a 23 mile Bonds traverse in winter conditions, it will be tough.  Please keep that in mind.

I have several peaks in mind for the hike but will keep them to myself right now. The only people who will know which hike we'll be doing are those who are selected to join us and even then they won't be informed until the very end.  That will give us a modicum of privacy.

Each of the mountains being considered all have stunning views and since it will be the first week of October our stunning fall foliage will be something to behold.
Here's what you will be responsible for if you are chosen: transportation to the White Mountains and to a morning meeting spot where we will all have breakfast; your own lodging and meals; your hiking gear (we'll give you a list of what to bring); your own well being, even though we will be with you it will be up to you to hold yourself responsible and you'll be asked to sign a waiver.  Depending how people feel after the hike, we may even all get together for dinner as well.  What we are supplying is the hike and a walk up the mountain with us.  All else falls on you. 

Will won't be joining us since it will be a rough trail and there are only a few his Will Wagon can go up.  However, you'll get to meet him in the morning before the hike.

I know the invitations will be made over the next couple of weeks and thankfully that's out of my hands.  But here's what you can do, if you are interested in joining us, send an email to with the subject line "Oct. 6 Hike". attention to the Facebook page where Christina (and Mike) will come up with some ideas. 

I suppose the only thing left to discuss is my motive.  Why hike with a dozen other people when we crave the solitude of the mountains?  Consider it a thank you for all the good energy, support, and kindness you've sent our way.  We can't bring thousands up a mountain with us, but we can bring a dozen who represent the more than 15,000 on our Facebook page. 

Oh, and one last thing: make sure you have a good camera.  You'll love it views, the colors, and something tells me the company of what promises to be a good and interesting group of people.


Terri said...

What a generous idea! The circle of love and companionship continues to expand.

Carter W Rae said...

I am usually wordy but now WOW!!! What a wonderful gesture A remarkable man you are !!! Best to you Tom and pack

Anonymous said...

That is so amazing! Im a fan of your facebook page. I normally dont comment, for its not my place to do so. I had to on this, however. I think that what you are doing is amazing. My asthma wont let me attempt such a hike, but I cant wait to see who all goes and the pictures you take afterwards. Thank you for sharing your world with us. Its a pleasure being able to see pictures of your two little dogs on my facebook feed every other day or so. I am so excited for the people who get to go! Looking forward to seeing pictures!


Silvia G. Soos-Kazel said...

Tom, a very generous and lovely manner in which to thank the thousands of wonderful FA folks that so admire and respect you, Atticus, Will and your Team. Happy Hiking and please come back with photos galore for we FA ground spectators to also enjoy!

Bernice Jeffries said...

Love love this

Scott Anderson said...

That sounds like a memorable trip! What a beautiful time of year as well.

Diane Hawey said...

What a wonderful way to say thank you. You are being very generous sharing Atticus and your hike with 12 others. I look forward to seeing photos of the autumn beauty of the White Mountains.

Sarah Manns said...

Wishing you all happy walking, memories to cherish and good cheer.

Fun One said...

Count me in, Tom! I am so thrilled to have been invited.

Thank you, Erica Preusse

Betty & Lenny Fagen said...

This is so heartwarming and special. All selected will have a sweet memory of the experience always ... including you and Atticus.

The big world becomes a smaller place with actions such as this and all that has been said and done before today.

There is so much love and kindness from the people who write here and on the FB page.

Thanks Tom, Atticus, & Will for adding to our lives. We are better for it.

Wishing all a peaceful day!

Betty and Lenny

mlaiuppa said...

I would love to do this. Oct. 7 is my birthday and as I've gotten older I indulge myself in one special gift to me for my birthday.

But I work and can't just fly to New Hampshire for the weekend. Can't afford the time or the money.

And I'm just not in the kind of shape for even a modest hike of 4-6 miles. And there just isn't enough time to get in that sort of shape in the time left.

It sounds just wonderful.

I'd love to see the pictures you take and read the posts you'll write for the lucky people that do get to go.

Perhaps I'll take my Ramses on a sympathy hike locally, a short modest one, at the same time all of you are hiking your peak. I'll think of all of you as I do. And I'll give my Ramses an extra special hug and belly rub in honor of Atticus and Will.

Best wishes and happy trails to all those joining Tom and Atticus.

Anonymous said...

I tried t sen an email but due to recent events I got the auto response saying I would be deleted sight unseen. I did put Oct 6th in the title in hopes of it not becoming an unseen email.

At any rate, sharing yourselves like that is beyond generous and sharing the beauty of a NH Fall is just short of spectacular. Those going will see all the beauty NH has to offer in its landscape and people.

Laura Bachofner said...

What a great thing to do for your followers.

Pam Hicks said...

Well, Tom & moderators - I think this is an absolutely wonderful gesture & event. I wish I could be among you, but instead I will continue to savor my own little bits of Tom & Co. in person from the past. :-)

TerrySchaulat said...

Wow. Just wow. You all get more amazing by the day - what a giving spirit. Well, I will give the e-mail a try, but no matter who is chosen, there is always a reason, and things happen the way they need to...What a delightful thought!!! Best of luck to all :)

Michelle said...

What a wonderful "thank you" idea! It's beyond generous of you to sacrifice a bit of the solitude you hold so dear to allow some of us to join you on a hike.

Thank you so much for sharing part of your life with us (via Facebook and the blog), and now for sharing a hike with a very lucky group of people.

Sending you peace, joy and lots of good vibes,

Anonymous said...

How wonderful and exciting. I know all of us who love the Ryan pack will be well represented.

Anonymous said...

How absolutely wonderful of you and Atticus!

Sandra Didner said...

I am an avid hiker and climb my Pocono and Pa Appalachian mountains almost every day and would love to go with you, but sadly, I must go to flat, flat, very flat Florida in a few weeks where I will find a minimum of shad under palm Rees as I dodge alligators. I have already included your book in my contemporary literature class. Therefore, as you and the lucky people who accompany you are enjoying the gorgeous fall foliage thirty eight students and I will be waiting to view the magnificent pictures you will email to the rest of us. I have a floor to ceiling screen in my room and I will be able to project those photos on it so the students and I have the vicarious feeling that we are with you. Many of my students have never been north of southern Florida, nor have they seen deciduous trees or mountains. Our highest spot is called "Mount Trashmore.". I also am on the committee to pick a book for the college wide read in and I am definitely championing your book as our selection. Have a wonderful hike with the people who accompany you.. I wish I could go onward and upward with you

Anonymous said...

Many have told me to "take a hike" in the past when I was trying to right a few wrongs, go against the grain or fight the status quo. Now comes along someone like you with an invitation to take a hike..the kind I would gladly rush to take...and, woe is me, I can't do it!!! Tis life. But I'm with you and the lucky climbers -- even if only in spirit -- saying a bigger more deserved thank you to you than you want to say to us.

Amy @ The Mom Hood said...

What an amazing opportunity. If I wasn't battling ankylosing spondylitis and knew that the Remicade infusions would start helping by then, I'd apply. Maybe there can be an easier one eventually, for those of us who can't climb the big ones :)

tracy hayes said...

but u do bring thousands of us up the mountain with u.
thank u

kathy b said...

Cool idea! Not in shape for the climb but I could watch Will for you!

Louis Crowley said...

Wow, that's fantastic Tom. I have always hoped we would bump into you on one of our hikes. However I am going to take a page from your book and say what is best for us and that it's not something we could enter ourselves for as our hikes are best enjoyed with our best friends by side trotting along.
Seeing our pups enjoy the White Mountains is 50% of the joy.
It is wonderful that you are willing to share it with others and I hope some of them have never been.
I think we do hike with you guys often though, maybe not the same mountain, but I do wave a hello to you guys when we hit the top every time.
An amazing and kind gesture and I look forward to some pictures.
Our best to you and your boys.
Louis, Heather, Oscar & Hazel

Melanye said...

What a lovely and most generous offer!! Tom, you are a constant surprise!! I would give anything to be able to hike again, much less with you and Atticus. Of course, I'd just be happy to sit with Will and keep him company. Amazing! Love to you and the boys!!

Anonymous said...

Such an amazing opportunity. I'm not used to hiking up peaks, despite being fit so probably not the best idea for me personally. I can only surmise what a spectacular time you and the others will have. Seeing New England in all of its fall glory must be breathtaking. This is on my short list of things to do, as a recipient of free air travel...I'm sure to go. Maybe you can also consider a simple coffee meeting giveaway with some of your readers? That would be another great opportunity.

Tim Bird said...

Sounds like a blast, although we are very much like you and Atti, Tom, It's the peace, solitude, and serenity we seek in the woods. :P Would totally make an exception if only we could afford a trip.

Rocky Top still awaits though. It's not going anywhere any time soon and neither are any of the presidents. One day, onward by all means. :P

Tim and Robin

Donna Fitzpatrick said...

A grand idea indeed! There are many of us that would love to join you all in spirit. Why not promote a Hiking with Atticus Day? I would hike in my mountains following my Carson, take photos and share. The colors here are grand that time of year! I would love to be a part of this wonderful event. And send the love and gratitude right back at ya!

Tonight ... 1/2 of the Betty & Lenny duo said...

Hi Tom,

Thank you for a easy place to visit and write.

No judging here or questioning of motives.

It's all about love, sharing, and acceptance ... even Yankee fans.

We are all here for different reasons .... this is my safe haven these days and I truly appreciate it.

Wishes for a peaceful night to all reading this.

Betty Fagen

MastHoliday said...

Great job, Tom! it's a good opportunity for want first time hiking. such a interesting article.
thanks for sharing your plan.

Debbie said...

I'm not in good enough shape to hike the mountains at this time. As an alternative, maybe we can Skype with Will while you are all hiking. I will sing him a Willaby. :)

Betty and Lenny Fagen said...

HI Tom,

It sounds like the day you took for yourself, Atticus, and Will was a beautiful one. The beginning of cancer treatment whether it be chemo or radiation is a very reflective time. It puts much of what is going on in your life into perspective. I speak as a 10 survivor ... still going strong and grateful for the love, support, & encouragement from my family and friends ... but that first day is one I will never forget.

So tomorrow is a new day .... looking forward to hearing about Will's activities and how Atticus is feeling.

Wishes for a peaceful night to all of you.

Betty Fagen