Dear Summit Register

Because mailboxes deserve a little love, too.

Words and photos by Alex Blackmer

Dear Summit Register,

A mailbox shouldn’t be on top of the mountain. Did you give up your good life—a green lawn, a cul-de-sac, a family that loved you—because you wanted something a little more exciting and affirming? Whatever the reason, you left home, and now you lie here instead, battered by rocks and blasted by the wind. You’re dented, and your flag fell off, and you don’t even have a post anymore. Someone built a cairn around you just so the winds don’t throw you off the summit, the way a toddler throws her favorite toy out the car window just to see. You deserve better, Register.

Photo by Chris Davis

Why’d you do it, Register? Why did you leave the suburbs for a windswept scree-scape? Maybe the two-for-one coupons, dentist’s reminders, and extra-special credit card offers weren’t as fulfilling as we thought they were. Maybe you wanted something wilder, something elemental and rough around the edges. I guess text messages and email have changed life for mailboxes, huh? You probably didn’t get a lot of real letters anymore, the kind full of emotion and crossings-out and spelling errors.

Maybe you feel more connected up here, even though you’re alone most of the time. There’s something about the wind and the rock and the crows and the cold and the emptiness that makes people feel a little bit more readily, don’t you think? And they share it all with you, Register, the secret-keeper of the mountaintop.

“MJ hearts TH”

“I love you, and I wish you were up here with me.”


“Amazing summit! Been here every year since 1973! – JKM”

“The world is beautiful!”

People come up here for the same reasons you did, Register. Being on a summit like this makes a person feel alive in a way that being nailed to post by the driveway never could. It’s a tougher life here, no doubt about it, but it reinforces the important things and brings with it a sense of peace and accomplishment. Those are hard to find when you’re spending your days waiting for the calloused hand of the mailman. Even the simplest summit notes—“August 3rd: blue skies, no wind”—have a real-life physicality that the glossiest catalogs can’t match.

“Being on a summit like this makes a person feel alive in a way that being nailed to post by the driveway never could.”

During your time as guardian of the summit, you’ve understood that even the less eloquent entries—“Timmy wuz hear”—contain a spark of passion and pride. Dangit Timmy, you were here. You climbed this mountain, and you probably did it in flip-flops. Way to give ‘er, Timmy.

Mountaintops are good places to meet a pretty broad cross-section of humanity, don’t you think, Register? In your old life, you’d be lucky if a substitute mailman came by every few months. But here on the summit, you’ll meet day trippers, first-timers, mountaineers, and old pros. You’ll get to know the contemplators and the ruckus-raisers, the quiet observers and the summit celebrators. Everybody enjoys the summit differently, but we’re all happy up here, and almost everybody leaves a note.

Thanks for listening, Register.