This is what you came for!


For 4th of July this year I achieved a goal that I have been working towards. I hiked Mt. Katahdin in Millinocket, Maine. I reached the 5267 ft. summit at Baxter Peak by 2:30 in the afternoon that day. The knife edge is really amazing and beautiful but I took a good look at it and heard the stories from other hikers… and I don’t really need to do that – it is too scary.

The hike began at 6:30 am. There were 2 points on the trail up where I seriously thought about stopping and turning back. If you are familiar with the Hunt Trail – you will know about the iron bar that is meant to assist you as you climb tall boulders so that the only way up is to rely on a piece of metal that is drilled into the rock. I saw that iron bar and I didn’t think I could do it, I thought I would fall – but then someone came along and gave me a leg up. There were other hikers on the trail but they travel at different paces so I got lucky when someone happened to be there right when I needed help.

The second place was not far after that where I found myself hanging from a vine and holding on with one arm around a protruding boulder – my hiking boots were helpful to keep me braced against a flat wall of rock. I was hanging there -half way up a boulder face that was much taller than I was and I thought, “ok, what now?” The other hikers had passed me up and I was just hanging there – and for about 5 minutes I could not figure out how to get up and over this wall. I actually cried out for help – but there was no one there. I could have just made my way back down the rock at that point but I had already come so far on the trail- I was already above tree line. I told myself “keep trying, don’t give up – this is what you came for”.

So I just hung there trying every possible move my body would allow me to do. My arms were stretched from hanging onto the vine and over rock. It was up to my feet to keep me from falling until finally I was able to shimmy, nudge, inch, shift, stretch, and swing a leg up – just enough to catch a rock ledge that seemed out of reach – but it was there for me. That was the move that allowed me to pull myself up and over the rock to ground that I could better hang on to – and I made it to the next level of rock.

How on earth would I make it down later in the day? I knew I would have to figure that out later – but not right now so I kept going. Those were the most difficult parts of the hike – but it was further up when I was beginning to feel the challenge of being alone.

I was already so tired but some deep feelings of gratitude were emerging. I began to feel thankful for the climb, the rocks, the travel, my life, my friends, family, all the problems, mistakes, confusion, and craziness I have experienced. So while I was hiking I had a conversation with God and basically said thank you for all of it. I am going to call it a conversation because even though I was doing all the talking God’s spirit was talking back to me with love and in my spirit I felt a calm voice saying “I am here, I am with you.”

There was no one else around who could understand me – who I was, who I became, what my trials were -but there is something about being alone in challenging places that makes you call out for God and it doesn’t matter who you are or even what you believe because you are human and you need that kind of unconditional love in order to survive.

As I continued on I knew that this is why people climb mountains – to find something true.

The hike down was really miserable due to being tired, weak knees,gravel, and swarming black flies… but I survived all of that too. To be fair, this is a really difficult hike and is really hard on knees. My knees were not happy with me after this hike and they told me never again, but I want to do it one more time. I would like to go back in 2017 for another Independence day hike. Look for a post next year with a picture of me hiking with an American flag.


did it!


mt. washington 2016If you read my last post in November – you’ll understand why this post is significant. I am happy to report that I actually did it! I hiked Mt. Washington and only looked back to take some amazing pictures. The hike started at 8:30 in the morning, I reached the summit of the Lion’s Head Trail by 1:30pm… and then the summit of Mt. Washington by 3:30pm.

It was an adventure that I had been preparing for and it started out pretty good. I was just hiking along the trail checking out the views when some barefooted guy hiked past me. Why would someone do this?

I looked down at my own feet and thought how crazy it would be to hike barefooted through dirt – mud really, rocks, boulders, sticks, and all kinds of obstacles. I kept hiking.

Then 2 guys hiked past me -and strapped to their backs were skis and ski poles. Isn’t it hard enough???

I took a picture of these guys who thought they would be skiing down Tuckerman Ravine… I knew it wouldn’t happen.
There was still snow on the ground – but not enough.

Tuckerman Ravine is the trail I tried to hike last October. It is a steep hike covered with boulders that you have to climb. Skiing down the ravine – even if there is snow just seems crazy – but of course I was not here to ski. Still, hiking up to the ravine with ski equipment on your back on a humid day is just torture. I just kept hiking.

Then I met a guy from India who had just moved to Boston a week ago. He told me that he knew he wanted to hike Mt. Washington before leaving his country. So the first week – here he was hiking alongside me. This guy told me that he had hiked all over India and in the Himalayas. So basically he was telling me that he was an athlete.

We were chatting it up while hiking together and I slipped on a wet rock. Down I went and you should see the black and blue bruise I have now. I dusted myself off and continued to hike. I think I scared my new friend – because after that he would not leave me. At least not until after we climbed the first leg of the lion head trail.

I was happy to have another hiker to hike with. He helped me to get past two rocky ledges that were wet and muddy. Once we got past the difficult areas – we parted ways and I did not see him again.

I took my time and continued hiking.

I boulder climbed the Lion’s Head and made it to the top. The reward was an amazing 360 degree view above treeline. It was gorgeous. There were couples asking me to take their pictures – and one girl doing yoga poses in front of the amazing view – and there were little white and purple flowers growing. From here I could look down at Tuckerman Ravine and know that I had surpassed my previous attempt.

I looked up and saw my goal. Mt. Washington waited for me… it waits for anyone who just want to find themselves climbing its rocks to be at the highest summit in the North East. You don’t have to be an athlete – but you should prepare by hiking for elevation and getting your heart in shape.

Why did I need to climb it? Just because.

I started my hike over to the boulder covered trail. Mt. Washington really is a humongous pile of rocks. Good thing I brought my hiking gloves with the fingers cut off. I watched other hikers basically walk upright for a good portion of the trail. Why did I have to climb on all fours?? As I climbed… I realized it is about confidence.

I kept climbing this way -because I was fearful of falling.

I had climbed about half way up when some hikers I had met earlier in the day were hiking back down again. as they passed they encouraged me with “you’ve got this” and “you’re almost there!” One person lied to me and said it would only be another fifteen minutes – I know they were lying because it took me another hour! I knew I was getting close though because the cairns were closer together. They are there to keep hikers on track- because the trail becomes a sort of free for all – where there is no one way to get to the top… just as long as you get there. The cairns basically are there to give you an idea where you are going.

The last part of this climb was mentally challenging…Even though the end was near and almost in sight – it would have been great to just stop and quit – right there on the side of the mountain. I remember feeling “beat” last fall when I hiked the Ravine… well I made it this far and it wasn’t so much physical – but mentally I just wanted it to be over, but I didn’t drive nine hours to hike most of the trail and give up. I made my arms, my legs, my senses, my everything get it together and finish the last of the climb.

I was aching – and really exhausted.. but then I stepped off the trail and onto paved ground – the parking lot where people who drive to the top park their cars. I was so jealous of them. They could get in their cars and drive back down when they were ready. I went up to the observatory, looked around, and refilled on food and water. I looked out at the rocks and decided that hiking down was not going to do any favors to my knees – so I started hiking down the paved road behind some other hikers… and I saw the best view of Mt Jefferson, Adams, and Madison. It really was amazing and now I know that I have to go back and hike these other mountains. (yep! I’m going back.)

I asked the other hikers to take my picture here – and then they offered me a ride back to the lodge where I was staying. I said yes. I accepted because I knew that it would have taken me another three or more hours to hike back and I was just ready to call it a day. While I am thankful for the ride back – I will tell you that it was scarier to drive down that partially paved single lane road to the base of the mountain than to be hiking out there on the rocks. I am a nervous passenger anyway – but I was holding tight all the way down.

I do not recommend driving up or down that road – so if you find yourself in New Hampshire looking up at Mt. Washington – just hike it – all 6,288 ft.

The best advice I can give to someone who wants to hike to the summit is the following:

Do it while you can, do it while you are young, and your body doesn’t mind it. Wear sunscreen, great hiking boots, wool socks, check the weather conditions ahead of time, bring gloves, carry a light pack on your back with food and water (I suggest oranges and almonds) Get a good night sleep the night before and start early – but bring a headlamp just in case it gets dark. Put some bug spray on before you begin or the black flies will get ya!

Other than that – have fun, go at your own pace, and keep hiking!

Summit of Mt. Washington May 2016
Summit of Mt. Washington May 2016


About a month ago I tried to hike Mt. Washington. It is the highest peak in the the question for me was could I get to 6,288 ft?

I tried. I drove 9 hours to New Hampshire, slept in my car and was up before sunrise so that I could journey to the top of this mountain before winter. I decided to hike Tuckerman Ravine- an extremely rocky – bouldering trail that would take me steeply up the trek to Mt. Washington. On the way up there is a beautiful waterfall that sparkles in the sunlight.

By the time I saw the waterfall though I was already physically beat, but I looked up to see my destination and I kept going. I made it to the top of Tuckerman Ravine but that was as far as I could go. Mt Washington loomed even higher and since I am still a new hiker I just couldn’t do it. I managed to hike back down the ravine and made it to my car just after dark. Thank goodness for headlamps!

I fully intend to go back and hike to the top of Mt. Washington and when I go I will be in better shape and more prepared. The memory of that waterfall left an impression on me. The mist and the water glimmered in the air it seemed to be acknowledging my pain – the pain of hiking up a very steep slope. I was thankful for it.

This story came together today because of a friend of mine who has a keen ability to understand people. Some people are like that – they know how to comfort people by acknowledging feelings whether someone is happy, sad, frustrated, or in pain. I would like to express gratitude for friends and waterfalls – because they get it.12138505_10153604662931380_5990866190565744097_o

Still thinking about that moon…

moon image by David ValleeI continue to be captivated by the moon …it started in September when the Super Moon went through some changes during a Lunar Eclipse. I watched the phases of the eclipse from my front porch and thought about how many people on earth share that one moon. It tells a story that means more than words can say.

In a world where your daily activities, choices, and career take you in many directions it is a good thing – a wise thing to remember who you are. You are one of a kind and while you can be many things – you are wonderfully made for a specific purpose. Even if you experience difficulties remember to believe that you are being prepared for something that no one ever saw or heard of – that no one ever thought could happen. Your life is like an eclipse of the moon.

As the satellite eclipsed I was reminded of how people go through stages in life, their careers, and what they believe about their identity. What we identify with at one point in time can change. People do change because we are not meant to remain the same throughout life. It does not matter where a person lives in this world the moon is there to speak to our hearts about common ground, peace, and understanding. To help us understand that things can change.

The moon has an impact that crosses barriers of language, religion, and government to change hearts and help people believe in better ways.

Truth is in Contentment

I discovered some big truths lately about listening to the voice of reason, and I also experienced a discouragement that causes weariness.

Imagine finding something that you really needed exactly when you needed itpink petal. Now imagine that very thing that seemingly met you right where you are is the very something that teaches you a hard life lesson that leaves you frustrated.

The lessons are there for a good purpose but they feel discouraging. Is there a way around this? Can we in the blink of an eye be re-appointed to our right path to divine will? Finding what we thought would answer our prayers was really just a directional saying “try a new direction – remember that truth is in contentment.”

Why do we reject truth?

How on earth can anyone truly be content or find contentment? I imagine it is possible when all of the discouraging things we experience in life come to a halt and we begin to find peace in just knowing there is a bigger picture. These are tough words for someone who strives on a day to day basis – who sets immeasurable goals, and who lives to prove their worth by earning their way.

Grace allows us to become content, and re-appointed to a divine path- the one that we were born for.

A Mountain formed by Glaciers

In the last 6 months, I have wanted to write about so many things. I never got around to writing about all my feelings that had to do with fear and confusion…but I now have an even grander story to share with you…and it has to do with a mountain formed by glaciers.

Mount Katahdin is a place that represents all of the things we love, respect, and fear. Is it really possible to conquer something that is 5270 feet and has a ridge that people call the “knife edge”? It is possible – people hike the “great mountain” all the time! It is a challenge that looks rocky, deadly, and life threatening…but it is also an opportunity to ponder the notion that faith can move mountains.

The story is how all those things I wanted to write about came about as I glimpsed at Katahdin for the first time. Looking at this mountain made me realize that I was not ready to just go and hike it. It is beautiful for sure but I couldn’t hike it because I was unprepared. I tried hiking around at the base of it but found that there was only so far I could go. The rocks quickly become more than just a casual hiking experience – so when I couldn’t go any further I stopped and turned back.

It was okay to turn back because that is when I found what I really wanted to find… it was a moose. I came upon a moose that was all by himself wading around playfully in a pond – and just beyond this scene was Katahdin. It was a moment in time. No one else was there, it was silent and the beauty was vast…and all I could see made perfect sense.

I am preparing now for the real challenge of hiking Katahdin and I don’t have to write about the other things anymore because they are like the glaciers.

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Hollow Land Book Release

J.E. Byrne has had the opportunity to teach high school English for over 16 years. Observing and interacting with high school students provides me with an authentic teenage voice that I can represent in my YA writing.

Recently an aspiring young girl came to a book signing event with a list of questions to ask J.E. about what it is like to be a published author.

“When did you decide to become an author?” she asked.

Jodi replied, ” I always had these stories in my head that I knew I wanted to write about – but I never did. Now that I have published my first book and now working on my second book – I know that I should have started years ago.”

She went on to tell the girl, “If you have a story to tell – why not get started now!?”

The Dead Land Series is defined as young adult because of the writing style and because the protagonist Sarah Cain is a young adult. The Dead Land Series is attracting readers of all ages because of the subject of survival.

J.E. Byrne published “Dead Land” a book about a survivor of an apocalyptic event in 2013. Now her second book “Hollow Land” is expected in December 2014.

The book has been published and I have already ordered a first shipment of “Hollow Land” and will be signing individual copies very soon. The Dead Land Series will be available on, and Kindle.

J.E. hopes to inspire readers and writers with her work and is available for book groups and creative writing work shops. J.E. can be contacted through her website: or on her facebook page: Land Promotion 2

Jodi E. Byrne – Author of the Dead Land Series

jodi Byrne

Author Jodi E. Byrne has announced that she will be on hand at the Galer Estate Winery on Friday August 22nd to answer questions about her novel Dead Land.

Jodi resides with her family in Chester County, Pennsylvania where J.E. is currently working on Hollow Land, the second installment of the Dead Land series to be released in fall 2014.

With a career in technical writing, teaching, and as a fiction writer, Jodi has emerged as a novelist for young adults. Jodi writes because of a desire to find answers to perplexing spiritual questions and to explore the resolve of faith. In her book, Dead Land, the story follows the life of eighteen year-old Sarah Cain as she struggles to survive the pressures and temptations of high school, relationships, self-discovery…and the end of the world.