Sixty-three people - from aged 4 months to 71 years - joined Jane Bertrand on her highpointing quest. Here they are by state.
Prior to this book, I was an academic who could happily spend Saturdays in my office, working on a peer-reviewed publication or our next grant application. I didn’t worry much about work/life balance, because work was my life. Yes, I had friends, but many lived in distant states or countries. I didn’t feel the need to “hang out” with them, except perhaps to see my childhood friends on the annual August vacation to my home state of Maine.
I hadn't anticipated the happy consequence of this book in terms of social connections. Round 1 was to reach out to so many people to recruit them to hike/highpoint with me. In total, 63 people – ages 4 months to 71 years – joined me on this endeavor. These excursions not only gave us shared time, but more important, shared purpose – to reach the highpoint of a given state – further deepening these friendships.
Round 2 has been re-connecting with people through promotion of the book. By posting to LinkedIn and sending out an e-blast to everyone in my personal and professional email contacts list, I have heard from former students and colleagues I hadn’t seen for decades.
Round 3 involved inviting the 63 people who highpointed with me to a book launch party in New Orleans on December 29, 2018, which coincided with my 70th birthday; 37 showed up, along with some other "characters" in the book and spouses. My good friend/neighbor hosted a delightful cocktail party, complete with a professional violinist, in her uptown Victorian home. From there the 50 guests proceeded to a nearby hall for a catered buffet dinner, group photo, and program. Some 20 of my “highpointing recruits” regaled the audience with tales of adventure, including bear sightings, loss of GPS connectivity, lack of signage, muddy trails, snowfields, and tent loss, among other obstacles encountered in our pursuit of highpoints.
As detailed in the book, highpointing transformed my lifelong inclination to stay fit into an obsession. I hadn’t anticipated how much it would strengthen my social ties with friends and family. The obstacles to reaching the highpoints deepened these relationships. Most of my highpointing recruits did not know one another before the book launch; having them come together and meet each other on my 70thbirthday was the frosting on the cake.
Over the past decade, Jane Trowbridge Bertrand combined her new-found love of highpointing with her academic career at Tulane School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine in New Orleans. She travels six times a year to sub-Saharan Africa in connection with her work in international family planning.