Aspen author and fourteener enthusiast Rick Crandall comes to Bookworm of Edwards | VailDaily.com

Aspen author and fourteener enthusiast Rick Crandall comes to Bookworm of Edwards

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What: Author Rick Crandall at the Bookworm of Edward

When: Thursday, Oct. 17,t, 6 p.m.

Where: The Bookworm of Edwards, 295 Main St., Riverwalk at Edwards

Cost: $10, includes appetizers

More information: Call 970-926-7323 or visit www.bookwormofedwards.com.

There’s a reason canines are also known as “man’s best friend.” Some special dogs push us to do things we thought were impossible. Emme was one of those dogs.

Join Aspen author Rick Crandall at the Bookworm in Edwards today for a discussion of his new memoir, “The Dog That Took Me Up A Mountain,” which tells the story of a middle-aged man and a fearless pint-sized pup who, together, scale Colorado’s highest peaks. It’s a semi-autobiographical story.

Rick Crandall once thought that life couldn’t get much worse. He was depressed and looking down the barrel of a mid-late-life crisis. It was when he was at his lowest of lows, that his new wife Pamela said four magic words: “Let’s get a dog.”

“She did research on the breeds and found herself loving the description of the Australian Terrier,” Crandall said. “They are said to be big dogs trapped in a small bodies. She loved that.”

Soon after setting her mind on this breed, Pamela found Emme, then only a 5-pound puppy. “She began working with her right away, but she was difficult in the early days,” Crandall said. “She just wasn’t interested in typical dog things. But once Pamela started taking her on hikes, Emme came alive.”

The more they hiked, the more Emme wanted to go higher, farther and faster.

“Her brain told her that nothing was impossible,” Crandall said. “Tall boulders? She leaped up them or found a way around. High winds? She clawed her way along ridges and eventually summits. Thunder? She barked at Mother Nature for interrupting our hikes.”

It was because of Emme’s determination that led them to even higher peaks ­— the legendary Colorado 14ers.

“I had to deal with the issues of a 64-year-old man climbing for that long and that high,” Crandall said of their first attempt at Yale Peak outside Buena Vista. “But Emme had no problem.”

In fact, she seemed to find her bliss in the rugged and unforgiving terrain that only a 14,000-foot tall mountain can offer. Slowly, Crandall began to follow suit.

“I watched how much Emme got out of the climb — not just getting to a summit, but smelling the wildflowers, solving problems of the terrain, even route finding — Emme clearly had the passion for all the elements of it. I began to live in the moment of the climb like she did,” he said.

Crandall caught the fourteener fever, and the 20-pound Emme was right at his side, always pushing him to keep going.

“She summited 16 14ers in her life and I never lifted her once,” he said.

Emme eventually got too old to charge up mountains like she used to, but Crandall kept going, climbing all of Colorado’s 58 14ers well into his 70s.

“Before her, I was just a flatlander from Michigan. But something magical overcame Emme and me. The dream wouldn’t have been possible without her,” he said.