Climbing peaks, and rediscovering lost dreams
The cover of “Chasing Summits” by Garry Harrington.

Climbing peaks, and rediscovering lost dreams

In new book, former sports editor tells the story of how he reclaimed his life, one summit at a time

There are many ways to deal with a midlife crisis - that realization that your life is not what it could be and that you are in desperate need of a change.

For Bellows Falls area native Garry Harrington, the crisis hit when he was in his early 40s, after more than two decades as a sports reporter and editor at the Brattleboro Reformer and the Keene Sentinel.

His way of dealing with the crisis was to head for the hills.

Harrington transformed his life through hiking and plunging headlong into the world of the “peak baggers,” the hardest of the hard-core hikers who keep life lists of mountains climbed and are constantly looking for the next backcountry challenge.

He tells his story in his new book, Chasing Summits: In Pursuit of High Places and an Unconventional Life. Fittingly, it's published by the Appalachian Mountain Club (AMC). He'll be doing a reading and book signing on Saturday, Oct. 22, at 10 a.m., at Village Square Booksellers in Bellows Falls and Friday, Oct. 28, at 6 p.m., at Everyone's Books in Brattleboro.

He said he had always loved being in the outdoors, and was a cross-country runner at Bellows Falls Union High School. When he went to St. Michael's College to study journalism, he climbed Mount Mansfield, the mountain he could see from his dorm window.

But then he graduated in the spring of 1982, and, in rapid succession, he got married, got a full-time job at the Reformer, and became a parent. At 22, he says he was thrust into adulthood and “had to put away a lot of things I enjoyed doing, like hiking and climbing.”

I worked alongside Garry from 1989 to 1995 at the Reformer as a sports reporter. As sports editor, he was intense, hard-working, and always pushed the limits of what we could do as a sports department. I went to every corner of Vermont covering the local high school teams for the Reformer, because Garry insisted upon it.

But as the newspaper business changed, and the budgets and space shrank, Garry became more and more frustrated. “It was harder to do the job the way I wanted to do it,” he said. “And with the internet growing, I could see where newspapers were headed. It made it easier to walk away.”

He says his epiphany came in 2000 on Mount Monadnock after meeting Larry Davis of Jaffrey, N.H., who became something of a local legend for climbing the 3,165-foot mountain every day for 2,850 consecutive days. A bout of pneumonia ended the streak, and Garry wrote the story for the Sentinel.

While others at the paper pooh-poohed Davis as an eccentric who wasn't on the level about his streak, Garry said he was a believer after meeting him, and they became hiking buddies. Climbing Monadnock 60 times in 2000 whetted his appetite for more mountains.

He made the decision to walk away from his profession, his family, and the idea of a settled life to devote his life to adventure seeking and self-growth.

“I had to reinvent myself, and do it several times over,” Garry said. “I needed to cut my ties with what was safe and secure and jump into the unknown.”

He started climbing the peaks in New England. Then the Rockies. Then the high peaks of Mexico and Central America. Then the Matterhorn and other famous European peaks.

Today, he has thousands of ascents to his credit, and the AMC says Garry is one of relative few to have climbed all 66 of the 14,000-foot peaks in the continental United States.

In the process, he pared down his life to just what he needed to get by and have time to go on his adventures. He lives out of a van, and seasonal work with UPS and as a softball umpire is enough to give him his bankroll to go adventuring the rest of the year.

Along the way, he said he discovered the importance of not letting go of one's dreams.

“They call me crazy for living what they call a footloose and fancy-free lifestyle,” he writes in the book. “ But, to me, they are the ones who are crazy, slaving away at a 9-to-5 job and never really enjoying life ... Rediscover your own earlier dreams and the courage to take the action required to make them happen. I did, and you can too. It's not too late.”

Boys' soccer

• Twin Valley maintained its hold on the top spot in Division III with a 3-2 win over Green Mountain in Chester on Oct. 12.

Jack McHale scored the game-winner for the Wildcats with 12:15 remaining in regulation time off a Hayden Reed cross and a Skyler Boyd header.

After a 0-0 tie at the end of the first half, McHale scored a goal early in the second half that kicked off a flurry of goals by both teams. Ethan Hart tied the game for the Chieftains a few minutes later, and James Anderson gave Green Mountain the lead in the 52nd minute. Jim McGovern got the equalizer for Twin Valley in the 59th minute.

The last 10 minutes of the game were played at a frantic pace, but Twin Valley hung on and improved its record to 9-1. Green Mountain fell to 8-3, but looks on track to host a first round playoff game.

• Leland & Gray continued to struggle. On Oct. 11 in Townshend, the Rebels lost to Windsor, 5-3. Freshman Dylan Hodgdon did most of the damage in the second half for the Yellowjackets as he scored two goals and assisted on another.

Rebels goalkeeper Gaige Astley did his best to keep his team in the game, as the Jacks peppered the Rebels net with shots. Windsor led 2-1 at the half on goals by Brandon Tillman and Cam O'Brien. Pat McDonald scored for the Rebels off a penalty kick.

In the second half, Hodgdon took over and got his two goals and set up Vincent Moeykens' tally over a six-minute stretch. McDonald countered with another Rebel goal, but, by that point, Windsor was firmly in control. Bryce Karg got the other Rebel goal in the second half.

Field hockey

• Bellows Falls stayed undefeated as Abbe Cravinho and Reaghan Baldasaro each had two goals as the Terriers blanked Mount Anthony, 6-0, on Oct. 11 in Westminster.

Great defense by the Terriers prevented Mount Anthony from getting a single shot on goal. BF dominated on offense with 16 shots on goal and an 8-1 advantage in penalty corners. Madison Streeter and Dani Marchica each added a goal for the 11-0 Terriers.

• Brattleboro traveled to Manchester on Oct. 10 to face Burr & Burton, and lost to the Bulldogs, 1-0.

Charleigh Carthy scored the game winner for the Bulldogs 11 minutes before halftime. Hannah Hedberg and Rachel Tegen were credited with assists. The Bulldogs had a 22-2 advantage in penalty corners as goalie Molly Dingley needed to make just one save to earn the shutout. Colonels goalie Olivia Weeks made nine saves.

Girls' soccer

• Twin Valley traveled to Windsor on Oct. 11 and came away with a 1-0 win.

The Wildcats had seven shots on goal. Kassidy Walkowiak scored Twin Valley's only goal and goalkeeper Celia Betit recorded her first career shutout.

• Freshman Julia Eastman scored three times in the second half as Otter Valley shut out Bellows Falls, 5-0, in Westminster on Oct. 12.

BF came out strong, but it was the Otters that notched the first goal when Colby Reynolds scored in the ninth minute. Teammate Olivia Drew added another in the 36th minute for a 2-0 halftime lead.

Otters goalkeeper Gabby Poalino made four saves, including stopping two BF breakaways. Goalkeeper Bri Donahue had 12 saves for 0-12 Bellows Falls.


• Timmy Salter-Roy finished third in 18 minutes flat to lead the Bellows Falls boys to a win in a four-team meet in Springfield last week. BF won the meet with 38 points, followed by Otter Valley (76), Thetford (90), and Springfield (130).

Also in the Terriers' top five were Ian Wallace (fifth in 18:22), Jackson Purdy (eighth in 18:45), Cam Joy (10th in 19:28), and Nic Potter (12th in 19:58).

Dash to the Dam

• West River Valley Thrives will host a costume 5k run/walk on Oct. 29 at 10 a.m. along the West River Trail in Townshend.

Runners will race from the “Old Route 30” trailhead to the Townshend Dam Rec Area. At the finish there will be food, drinks and activities (bobbing for apples, pumpkin painting, etc.). At 11:30 a.m., prizes will be handed out to top finishers as well as those with the most creative costumes. Adults pay $20 to race and kids under 13 pay $10.

For more information and to register, visit or call Kate Venne at 802-365-4700. This race is a fundraiser for West River Valley Thrives, a youth substance abuse prevention coalition in Townshend.

Senior bowling roundup

• I forgot to include last week's information for Week 6 of the fall season of the Brattleboro Senior Bowling League, so I'll double up here this week with the current standings and the best scores from both weeks.

In Week 6, Team 4 had the high handicap game (895), while Team 1 had the high handicap series (2,638). Week 7 saw Team 1 have the high handicap game (868), while Team 10 had the high handicap series (2,532).

Jeanne Czuy had the women's high handicap game (270) and series (679) in Week 6. Howard Manley had the men's high handicap game (266), while Fred Bump had the high handicap series (689).

Bump (215), Wayne Randall (210), Fred Ashworth (203 and 200), and Warren Corriveau Sr. (235) all had 200-plus games.

Rolling 500-plus series were Charlie Marchant (506), Jerry Dunham (529), Corriveau (593), Randall (532), Bump (551), Ashworth (561), Wayne Farnham (502), and Marty Adams (575).

Week 7 individual standouts included Dolly Stone, who had the women's high handicap game (264) and series (690), and Don Powers, who had the men's high handicap game (255) and series (719).

Tom Johnson (211), Ashworth (205), Adams (224), Marchant (209), Corriveau (236) and Peter Cross (209) all had 200-plus games, while Dunham (500), Bump (508), Don Powers (500), Farnham (546), Johnson (541), Ashworth (566), Adams (568), Charles Marchant (574), Cross (510), and Eric Brown (506) had 500-plus series.

After seven weeks, Team 5 (22-13) is now in first place. Team 3 (21-14) is second, with a three-way tie for third with Team 1, Team 3, and Team 10, all with 19-16 records. Team 6 (17-18) is in fourth, followed by Team 7 (16-19), Team 9 (15-20), and Team 8 (14-21), and Team 2 (both 13-22).

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