The Mountain Story – Palm Springs – Lori Lansens

the-mountain-story

Why a booktrail?

Four people go up a mountain near Palm Springs. Three return. What happened up there and why were two of them determined to go up that day in particular?

Story in a nutshell

Wolf Truly has a mission. He’s off to the mountain, his mountain – the one where his memories are not good ones. He takes nothing as he is not intending to come back.

However he is not the only one with a link to the mountain. Three women he meets in the cable car also seem keen to find something there. There’s talk of a secret lake they say, and they want to to find it.

This is not the landscape for being stranded on but that’w what happens when the weather changes and so their bed for the night is a lethal ridge with the lights of the city twinkling below, so close and yet so terrifyingly far away.

Whether anyone will get off the mountain is quite another story…

Place and setting

Palm Springs The region where the novel is set and the landscape is evoked. Coachella Valley The Cahuilla Indian inhabit the area and surrounding area Mount San Jacinto - http://www.parks.ca.gov/?page_id=636 Inspiration for the fictional mountain although the author says that the geography has changed
Palm Springs
The region where the novel is set and the landscape is evoked.
Coachella Valley
The Cahuilla Indian inhabit the area and surrounding area
Mount San Jacintohttp://www.parks.ca.gov/?page_id=636
Inspiration for the fictional mountain although the author says that the geography has changed

Michigan – Before the mountain

The boys journey and tragic childhood take him from Michigan to a life of troubled days and alcoholism to what is hopefully a happier time with his father’s sister. Tragedy, memories of the mountain and memories of his past cause the young Wolf to pay one last visit, one last look at the imposing mountain –

We can’t take the tram. We gotta climb the bitch”

You shouldn’t probably call her the bitch considering she’s named after a saint”

The mountain – Palm Springs  -Mount St Jacinto is the model for the fictional mountain in the story

This is a story of survival in every sense of the word – and the landscape is harsh and unforgiving.

As we neared the lake I could smell the still water and the lichen frosted rocks and the endangered mountain phlox…the ground beneath us pulsed

Poisonous plants, rocky ledges, rock falls, ragged unsteady ground..and that’s not forgetting the animals they encounter along the way.

Fate isn’t kind to the careless

The day they get lost, Wolf speaks of his unease growing with every steo and his lack of desire to see this secret lake again. it might be nostalgic for one woman in the trip but for him it’s a crime scene.

I tried to remain calm but I knew we were lost. I’d never been lost before. At least not in a mountain setting…

And he has reason to worry for this landscape is unforgiving and raw. It will take you in seconds and stories abound of deaths in this area, dead bodies of people who have tried to survive this mountain and failed. Not all those who come here leave. Everyone knows of the story of the hiker who tried…

Wolf did not intend to leave and the women have reasons of their own for being there. With place names such as Tin Town,  Devil’s Canyon and the Secret Lake, this is a landscape of unforgiving harshness…. but wait what’s that noise? Has help come at last?

You can’t trust mountain acoustics. You think you hear things – waterfalls airplanes voices. It’s just the wind

But someone has heard something…..

Bookish musings

Blimey this was good. If you’ve ever been hiking and worried about getting lost  don’t read this! Ironic that Wolf should be going up the mountain to commit suicide but then find out that the mountain has a lot more in store for him that he realized.

The women he meets – when their stories came out it added to the weird isolation that was already more than building up. Desperate times call for desperate measures. That mountain is unforgiving and will wait for no one.

Four people on a mountain and only three come down…..the fate of the fourth person is tragic as it is the culmination of a series of events from that very first tram up to the mountain station.

The tension builds as the isolation and rawness of the mountain envelopes and pokes each one of the people there.

The legend stories told of men who had died there, poisonous plants and tragic details of the mountain really added to the overall sense of ‘how the hell will they get out of this situation’ the lights from Palm Springs below tends to mock them as they seem so close despite their being so lost.

A mountain tale which shows how suffering and survival in the wilderness show the extremes of the human spirit and how four people can come together under the most pressurized of situations.

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