Summary of the Alone on the Mountaintop

Essay by jeremyfarrisUniversity, Bachelor's November 2014

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In the excerpt from the book Lonesome Traveler (1960) entitled "Alone on the Mountaintop", Jack Kerouac came to the realization the solitude and peacefulness he sought after comes from within oneself and is not based off ones surrounding. (218-228)

Kerouac began by explaining that after he discovered he was fed up with modern urban society, "he applied" to be "a fire lookout" in the High Cascades, and then he traveled to the west coast to begin his journey (218). (218)

Kerouac noted that the "[d]r[ive] north from Seattle on Highway 99" took him from the coast through the "agricultural flats," "rural valley[s]" and "foothills" and at last reaching "[t]he mountains that r[ose] on all sides" (219). He also noted that "sleepy little towns" (219) were interchanged with "Diablo, a peaceful company settlement" (220) which was his destination. He explained that upon his arrival, he had to take "a huge lift" which led him "to the level of Diablo Lake and Diablo Dam" then he crossed Diablo Lake on a "power boat" to reach "a rocky trail" to Ross Dam (220).


Kerouac stated that he had to stay "two nights" at the forest service flats before Assistant Ranger Marty Gohlke and Andy "[t]he muleskinner[]" arrived to take him to his post on Desolation Mountain (220). He went on to explain how they took a "tug[boat]" and a "corral float" filled with supplies up Ross Lake, Andy harassed Kerouac throughout the trip, on the other hand Marty gave him advice on survival (220). He noted how disembarking in nature was dangerous but once completed, they made their way towards Kerouac's summer post. (220-222)

According to the story, Kerouac lacked confidence in his new home, he described it at "miserable, damp and dirty," but meanwhile Andy started cooking and Marty helped set...