Uphill Both Ways: Hiking toward Happiness on the Colorado Trail (Paperback)
Reading the West Longlist for Memoir/Biography
One grouchy husband. Three reluctant kids. Five hundred miles of wilderness. And one woman, determined to escape the humdrum existence of modern parenting and a toxic work environment and to confront the history of environmental damage wreaked by westward expansion and the Anthropocene.
In Uphill Both Ways Andrea Lani walks us through the Southern Rockies, describing how the region has changed since the discovery of gold in 1859. At the same time, she delves into the history of her family, who immigrated to Leadville to work in the mines, and her own story of hiking the trail in her early twenties before returning two decades later, a depressed middle-aged mom in East Coast exile seeking happiness in a childhood landscape.
On the 489-mile trek from Denver to Durango on the Colorado Trail, Lani’s family traveled through stunning scenery and encountered wildflowers, wildlife, and too many other hikers. They ate cold oatmeal in a chilly, wet tent and experienced scorching heat, torrential thunderstorms, and the first nip of winter. Her kids grew in unimaginable ways, and they became known as “the family of five,” an oddity along a trail populated primarily by solo men. As they inched along the trail, Lani began to exercise disused smile muscles, despite the challenges of hiking in a middle-aged body, maintaining her children’s safety and happiness, and contending with marital discord. She learned that being a slow hiker does not make one a bad hiker and began to uncover the secret to happiness.
About the Author
Andrea Lani has lived in Maine for two decades, where she raised three sons, worked in the environmental field, and became certified as a Maine master naturalist, but her heart has remained in Colorado, where she was born and raised. She’s a senior editor at Literary Mama and writes fiction and nonfiction with a focus on family and the natural world.
“Andrea Lani is an insightful guide as she takes readers on a fateful family hiking trip along the legendary Colorado Trail. In language both witty and lush, she vividly portrays this remarkable terrain while also sharing a personal story of self-examination and persistence. Uphill Both Ways gripped me from its hopeful start to its jubilant finish.”—Aaron Hamburger, author of Nirvana Is Here
“Andrea Lani seamlessly weaves history, geology, and ecology in Uphill Both Ways, a moving memoir about nature, family, and learning to live in the moment. . . . Lani’s prose is lovely, even as she is examining the environmental cost of human error, misguided forest management, and ignoring climate change. In the end, Lani accomplishes what she set out to do, and she and her family learn that ‘even sucky things can sometimes be awesome.’”—Kate Hopper, author of Ready for Air and Use Your Words
“This lovely book manages to be a geological drama, an environmental history, a trail memoir, and a case for the protection of wild places—all while musing brilliantly on what it means to be a wife, a mother, and a person in the world. If you put Terry Tempest Williams and Cheryl Strayed and Kelly Corrigan in a room together, this is the book they would write. I loved it.”—Catherine Newman, author of Catastrophic Happiness
“Andrea Lani has crafted a true story on many levels, and her apt depictions of the journey bring the reader along with her, exposing personal peaks and valleys along with actual ups and downs. The geology of the Rockies she and her family trek across is an engaging saga told with close-up precision and sweeping landscapes, and her candid vignettes of family dynamics add humor and realism. Uphill Both Ways weaves a complex fabric of time and place—an adventure for anyone who treks through its pages.”—Cloe Chunn, author of Fifty Hikes in the Maine Mountains
“It was with great anticipation and pleasure that I read Andrea Lani’s new book, Uphill Both Ways. . . . In my opinion, the trail is where the family belongs, and thanks to Lani’s book, more families will become inspired to go to our country’s rich plethora of long distance wilderness trails and enjoy their gifts together. Well done, Andrea and the whole Lani family!”—Cindy Ross, author of Scraping Heaven: A Family’s Journey along the Continental Divide Trail