Alone on a Mountaintop Summary Essay

In “Alone in a Mountaintop”, an excerpt from Lonesome Traveler (1960), Jack Kerouac describes his journey west as “a fire lookout”.
Jack Kerouac stated that he was “tired” do city life and sought solitude, so”[he]applied” to be “a fire lookout” and went west (218). (218) Kerouac started his journey by driving towards the Cascades, followed by taking a “lift”, riding on a ferry, followed by a tugboat, and climbing with a horse and mule up the northern cascade mountain. He them noted how the further on he traveled the less “inhabitants” he noticed.

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After two days of waiting for Andy, the muleskinner, and Assistant Ranger Marty Gohlke, Jack describes how they took the tugboat up ”Ross Lake” and started up the mountain with mules packed with enough supplies for sixty-three days and nights on Desolation mountain.

Kerouac described how he reacted when they came upon what was to be his summer home and then noted how Andy and Marty helped him set up camp.

He then settled into bed for the night. (222-223) Kerouac noted that he was now alone, Andy and Marty left. He then spent the day cleaning and turned in early to be awoken to the sounds of nature. The job, as Kerouac noted, was to watch out for fires and he noted one storm. Jack felt sympathy for all of the smoke jumpers. He noted that most days were routine. He ate breakfast and radioed in. Kerouac would lay in the meadow and eat around noon, and by nightfall he had gathered his firewood to cook his supper. Kerouac noted that two months had passed. (223-224)

Kerouac explained that he discussed that the journey to solitude does not matter where you are; but it’s in one’s mind. (227-228)
Jack concluded by noting as he would lead a renewed life, and as he left his summer home he “turned and blessed” “the little pagoda on top” of Desolation Mountain which he had come to adore (228). (228)

Title Alone in a Mountaintop (Lonesome Traveler)
Written by Jack Kerouac
Type of Writing Short stories
Genre Travelogue
First Published 1960
Country US
Main Topic Description of the author’s personal experiences as he travels the US
Setting Rural and forest areas of the US
Main Characters Jack Kerouac

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