My 1,100+ Mile Idaho Hike

August 31st, 2012 / 5 Comments

I completed my 2012 summer hike! I backpacked more than 1,100 miles in the Idaho wilderness, making photos and enjoying nature all summer long. It was a grand adventure!

Some of my photos and a story about my summer-long trip appear in the September issue of Idaho Magazine. The cover photo shows me at one of my favorite spots: the Tules along the Owyhee River in a remote corner of Idaho. I have another dozen photos or so in the magazine.

As I have read my hiking journal, I’m remembering both the delights and struggles of the hike. I pushed my body hard, and I lost 40 pounds. My lower body is strong, but my upper body lost some muscle.

I did more praying and pondering than usual. Since coming home, I’ve tried to incorporate more time for prayer in my day. And so far, it’s working well.

Theology of Nature

One of the theological insights I gained on the trip was really more of an experiential confirmation than a brand new insight. I realized that nature has both beautiful and ugly elements. The beauty can be overwhelming. But the ugliness is also real.

An adequate theology of nature, in my view, must account for the beauty and ugliness, and the rather mundane in nature as well. I think some Christian doctrines of depravity attempted to account for the ugliness in the world. But I’m motivated now to construct a doctrine of creation that I think better accounts for my experience this summer. In my view, an adequate doctrine must include God’s creative activity and also creaturely responses.

The Bible verse I often quoted to myself as I walked the trail is this: “What may be known about God has been made known, because God has shown it. Ever since the creation of the world, God’s eternal power and divine nature, invisible though they are, have been understood and seen through the things that God made” (Rm. 19-20).

Photos and Stories

Of course, some of the highlights of this summer came in my artistic endeavors. I took 7,000+ photos! I plan to post some here on my blog over the next year. And I’m thinking about putting some in a book.

We’ll see how my summer adventure spins off into other projects. For now, I’m thankful for the experience and looking forward to sharing more about my adventure in speaking engagements in the coming months.

I’ve also begun to think about what I should do for my next challenge. If you have ideas, let me know.

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doug kitchen

Good stuff… and I couldn’t help but comment since you posted under “the kitchen sink”. smile

Very interesting observations.  Here in Upstate NY in the adirondacks you can see from a distance, the seemingly perfect scenery.  But I have noticed on my relatively few hikes how jagged, worn and a bit ugly the rock formations seem to be when I get up close.  The brilliant colors of fall last a few weeks here followed by a few weeks of rotting vegetation followed by a few months of beautiful white snow.  (Many see the snow as a curse) The snow is followed by what many call the “mud season” then the spring flowers appear (in mid-may and June) etc etc

A year ago, a hurricane and a tropical storm wiped out large portions of human settlements high in the mountains in upstate NY and Vermont even though these areas are seemingly beyond the reach of these storms.

Gen. 1 states that we are made from the dirt.  Maybe our depravity is connected to the depravity of nature.



Inspiring—both text and photos. Looking forward to hearing more on your theology of nature, too. Another book please. Congratulations on your article and on completing a personal adventure of mind/body/soul!

Carol VanSlageren

Thanks for sharing your insights Tom…looking forward to seeing more of your pics.  I am also struck that what is “ugly” or “beautiful” to one person can be just the opposite to another, and think that God sees all and still loves all.

Trey Howland

Hey Tom, you and I met briefly during your journey. My grandfather and I hosted the Lionhead Group Camp in Priest Lake, 30 miles away from the Idaho-Canadian border. I’m glad you were able to experience Idaho’s majesty to the fullest, and I would love to do such a thing in the future. 

Best of luck,
Trey Howland

Shirley Williamson

I’m sorry to have missed your presentation at REI a couple weeks ago.  It sounds like you would be a great resource as I make my plans for hiking the “middle third” of the ICT this summer.  Would you be willing to meet me to share some of your wisdom about the trail?
Thank you,
Shirley Williamson

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