Beginning when their children were one and three years old - barely old enough to walk across their living room rug - Cindy Ross and her husband spent five extraordinary summers hiking the length of the 3,100-mile Continental Divide Trail from Canada to Mexico. Ross undertook the challenge to teach her children that any worthwhile experience comes with its own set of challenges. Scraping Heaven is a revealing, touching account of one family's metamorphosis - an appealing adventure in a setting few will ever encounter. It is both an entertaining narrative of the trek and a heartfelt record of one family's growth. To the day-to-day challenges facing new parents, Ross added risky mountain crossings, winds strong enough to pick up a child, fears of bear and mountain lion attacks, snowy traverses, and in one instance, being chased by an angry bison. Ross, author of four books and a prolific freelance writer whose work has appeared in The Los Angeles Times, Boston Globe, Chicago Tribune, and Washington Post, writes frankly about overcoming her fears of thrusting her children into a harsh but stunningly beautiful environment.
The Continental Divide Trail runs along the crest of the Rocky Mountains. To walk along it, Ross writes, is "to scrape heaven." Much of the Trail is unfinished, just a designated route in a guidebook. Its remoteness meant that Ross and her family rarely saw other people. She and her husband, Todd Gladfelter, accompanied occasionally by friends, used llamas as kid-carriers and packers, which enabled them to go into the wilderness for weeks at a stretch, and take necessary supplies such as 100 cloth diapers. They finished the final 700 miles of the trip in 1998 on tandem mountain bikes. Scraping Heaven recounts the family's growing intimacy with the land, and with each other. Scraping Heaven will appeal to parents, backpackers, and anyone interested in travel narratives. We will be able to capitalize on Ross's media connections to publicize the book. Of Ross's A Woman's Journey, author Annie Dillard wrote, "She has put together a beautiful book, a wonderfully fascinating narrative." Publishers Weekly wrote, "Ross lets readers into her heart." Of her Kids in the Wild, The Denver Post wrote, "Ross and Gladfelter have produced a guide that will comfort and inspire parents."