Scraping Heaven

IMG_9400From Publishers Weekly

Helen Keller said, “Life is either a daring adventure or nothing at all.” And it is with this in mind that seasoned trekkers Todd and Cindy Ross set out to hike along the 3,100-mile Continental Divide Trail from Canada to Mexico with their two toddlers, Sierra and Bryce, and a string of four llamas. When Ross (A Woman’s Journey) and her husband first met, two of the main loves they shared were of hiking and the outdoors. But when their children arrived, they were afraid they would have to wait years to return to the wilderness-until hearing of the docile nature and great versatility of the llama as a pack animal. And so they began in the summer of 1993, hiking through the Colorado Rockies, learning the habits of llamas, inventing more efficient ways to wash diapers on the trail and keeping two toddlers entertained, warm and healthy while trying to stay sane and absorb the vast beauty of the trail that drew them. After two months, more than 300 miles, bags of candy, wet and smelly socks, lightning storms and temper tantrums, what their friends and family thought would end early in disaster was completed with success and the desire to do it all over again. That summer in 1993 ends five years later as the Ross family returns summer after summer to the Continental Divide Trail in their quest to grow closer and be one with nature. Not only are readers given the opportunity to experience the sheer beauty and at times frightening dangers of the trail, but they also watch two children grow and learn to call the trail their home. Well written, captivating and incredibly educational, this adventure is a lesson in the simplicity of life and the beauty of accomplishment.

From… Kenny Ballentine, Director of “Nature Kids” and  Founder of The Nature Kids Institute

“I grew up in love with backpacking, the mountains and high adventure. I thought those days were behind me when my wife and I decided to start a family. Then one day at a Boy Scout shop I noticed a book called “Kids in the Wild” by Cindy Ross. The cover featured a young family backpacking high in the Rockies with a pack of Llamas. I went home with a copy in my hands and my life has never been the same. Cindy taught my family how to go wild and grow closer together through meaningful outdoor family adventures. She taught my wife and I that a young family is not a reason to postpone adventures but the best possible reason for seeking them out.

Shortly after devouring “Kids in the Wild” I emailed Cindy to express just how deeply moved we were by her book, explaining that we would soon be trading in our Disneyland annual passes for State and National Park passes. She responded by inviting us to go camping with her! A month later my family of four met up with Cindy and her son Bryce at Joshua Tree National Park in the high desert of Southern California. We had a wonderful time and became fast friends. While we were together she presented me with a very special gift. It was a copy of the book you are about to read.

“Scraping Heaven” is a masterpiece. When I read it I was simultaneously inspired by the deep family bond of the Ross /Gladfelter clan and riveted by the adventure-novel-like narrative. Don’t be surprised if the first thing you do after reading this book is lace up some hiking boots and head for the nearest mountain peak!

I cannot begin to express how deeply Cindy’s work has influenced my family and professional life. In the years since meeting Cindy I have produced an award winning documentary film on the importance of re-connecting children with nature, I started an international organization whose mission is to bring childhood back outside, and I have presented keynote speeches and workshops to parents and educators around the world. But most importantly, my wife and I have dedicated ourselves to giving our kids an outdoor childhood filled with wonder, love and whole family adventures. Thank you, Cindy!”


From: Warren Doyle, PhD
Founder: Appalachian Long Distance Hikers Association
Founder/Director: Appalachian Trail Institute

While Ms. Ross does not have the ‘polished’ published names of Bryson or Strayed, I find her narratives of her long distance hikes of the Big Three (i.e. AT; PCT and CDT) are more authentic, substantive and entertaining. I applaud the Mountaineers Press for printing a second edition of Scraping Heaven so a whole new audience can experience the adventure of a person (and a family) who is not a train wreck and who actually walk the entire trail that they write about.
The journey described within these covers is so singular that it hasn’t been close to duplicated. Cindy, Todd, Bryce and Sierra are the ‘real thing’ when it comes to my perception of ‘family values’. For over 30 years that have genuinely lived the adventurous life redefining the middle-class American dream (or entrapment). They have “dismissed fear, prudence and conformity” and serve as a model for making promises to each other and acting on them.
Enjoy their insights from an elevated perspective. Integrate them into your own lives. This is where freedom lies.