The forgotten Swiss Army knife is a character in my next book.

I am writing a wilderness memoir. Appalachian Mountain Club Books will publish this book in a year. Writing personal history means I must do research on my own life. This story involves my two daughters, who were children, teenagers, and finally young adults as this story of my metamorphosis unfolded. My husband Nat appears a great deal, too: he was a gearhound who guided me in my early backpacking trips. And he has been my best mountain partner when I still want a partner. Friends I no longer see or even talk to played huge roles. A friend named Peter organized my first multi-day mountain traverse. Hiking partners: Bob, Skip, Steve, and Ellen.

Objects are characters in my story: Swiss Army knives. Sleeping bags. A particular hat. The old Coleman Peak 1 stove. The old pot. A headlamp.

Writer Tim Bascom led a memoir workshop in June and July through the University of Iowa Summer Writing Festival. Tim reminded me that I come from a family and a family culture—a big family, a dynamic family culture—but my book is about me, not them. My perceptions, which will differ from theirs. But that original family played a huge role, too. Tim reminded me I must be honest with myself about my own foibles.

I am so grateful that AMC Books has given me the freedom to write this story.

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