Category Archives: Outdoors

Take Care of Your Soul, Body and Minsitry

In Phil Strout’s “New Years Greetings 2013” video he mentions that the Lord told him three things when he woke up January 1st:

1) Take care of your soul
2) Take care of your body
3) Take care of your ministry

Of these three items, the one that stood out to me the most was taking care of your body. Over the last month I have become increasingly aware of the lack of exercise and movement in my daily routine. I get up, drive to work, sit at a desk all day, drive back home, eat and sit around the living room – with the occasional sprint around the house chasing my boy with the dog in tow!

Luckily the new owners of my day-job (we were brought out last fall) have a program where they will pay half of one’s monthly gym membership. As such, I am in the process of locating a gym and recruiting a workout buddy. Hopefully things will fall into place this month and I will be able to get back in shape before backpacking season. 😀

Walking In The Woods With Guns

I took a few days off at this beginning of this week to partake in an annual tradition among outdoor community in the USA. Specifically I went walking in the woods with a gun – a tradition that the more initiate folks call “hunting.”

This experience marks the first time that I have participate in this tradition despite having grown up in the Ozark Mountains and having lived in the West for ten years. (Well, I say “first time” as I don’t really count the climbed-a-tree-with-a-gun experience I had at fifteen as it only served to turn me into an achondroplastic Jotunheim frost giant.)

The primary reason with I choose to participate in this tradition this year was my father. He was tickled pink at the prospect of tracking down a nice buck for the freezer and asked me if I wanted to go with him. I wavered back and forth for a while before decided to go for it – after all I didn’t get a chance to go backpacking the summer and I really, really needed a stress break. After all, we got the gun permit and training long back and ought to make use of it sometimes. On other note, I heard there are several online gun training and safety courses available (like, It makes sense, since the gun violence are increasing, people are bound to get guns for their own safety. Anyway, our tradition of buck hunting was a much needed break for me. We usually use a rifle for hunting, but I know a friend who uses a 10 mm handgun and takes a shot at deers! I’m not sure if I can manage a hunting spree with pistols.

So together we went up to Dry Buck mountain and hiked over three sections of its south-eastern side. It was a rugged country with tons of ridges and hollows, interlaced with logging roads and game trails (speaking of logging, I was impressed good the loggers left the country side. They did a great job protecting the forest while hauling out their trees!). Up and down we went for two days looking for those fable horns….sadly enough all we saw were groups of does, about 14 in all. 🙁

Next year I think I’m going to have get into the doe lottery so that I can shoot one those critters…granted, folks tells me that if I do get a doe tag, all I’m going to see if bucks… oh well, at least I’m out in the woods walking around. 😀

Creation, Youth, And The Three Rs

Sorry, this isn't a picture of Peace Valley as I did not have a camera with me on this trip...however this is a picture of Idaho somewhere. =?

As mentioned in my last post, this weekend was the first (and hopefully ‘annual’) PRV youth retreat. We traveled about 30-miles north of Crouch, Idaho, to a place called Silver Creek Plunge, which was, appropriately enough, in a valley called “Peace Valley.” 😀

There were 12 of us on the retreat – seven young adults ranging from 12(?) to 19, four leaders and a two year old. Granted, the two year old thought he was much, much older and kept insisting that he be allowed to join the others in their activities. The teenagers, for their part, did an awesome job at including him in their activities; without, I might add, any requests or comments from us – they simply just loved hanging out and playing with him! (how cool is that! I love our church family!)

Throughout the weekend we talked about creation and how God is continually active in creation, whether that be humanity, fauna, flora, dirt or rocks. St. Paul tells us in the first chapter of Colossians that all “things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible” was make through and for Jesus. Furthermore, not only was it made by the Creator, but it is sustained by Him – meaning, that He didn’t just make things and then went on vacation. Nope, He is right there in the midst of everything working and fighting against the injustice of the evil one, till that day comes when enough is enough and all things are renewed and evil is destroyed once and for all (oh, that it may come soon!).

Yet, I digress from the main topic…

Weaved into our chats about creation was the theme of our, humanities, responsible to ‘tend the garden.’ The very first job given to Adam at the beginning of the world was to take care of the land and help it produce good fruit (Gen 2:15). Accordingly we, as Adam’s descendants, are to take care of the land and animals and help them flourish.

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“God of Wonder” Youth Camp

I am looking forward to a great youth camp this weekend. We are taking a group of young adults into the mountains for an amazing time of worship, teaching, fun, and fellowship. Some of the folks have never camped out in tents, so it should be quite the adventure. =P

During the weekend we are going to be talking about God has displayed His creativity within creation as well as how we are to response as stewards of the environment. As you all know, this is a theme that is close to my heart! (and I didn’t even pick the theme – our youth leader did!!!)

SCUBA Regulator

God is amazing! Yesterday after work I met up with some friends from Seattle who were visiting the area. Originally we were going to hit the water and do some SCUBA diving as we used to dive together years ago before they moved. As a big scuba enthusiast, I was really looking forward to getting back in the water. If you haven’t done scuba before, I’d definitely recommend making sure you get some womens wetsuits and go diving at some point in your life. It’s such a great rush and this is why I was so excited to go diving with my friends again. Sadly, however, we had to call of the dive due to an eye infection… “(

Yet we did get to have a wonderful chat in a local coffee shop, remembering old times and the years that have went by. In some ways the chat was even better than the proposed dive as we had a chance to hear each other’s hearts – not to mention the occasional SCUBA tale. 😛

Near the end of our visit the unexpected happened – they gave me a regulator!!!!! (Be still my heart!!!)

For those of you not familiar with diving, the regulator is THE most valuable and important piece of equipment on a dive. Its job is to connect the diver with the air tank as well as provides air to the diver’s BCD or Buoyancy Compensator Device (i.e. the vest the diver wears to control their depth). All very, very, very important tasks…

And now, thanks to the generosity of God’s people, I have one – which will go a long ways in helping me get back into the water on a regular basis. (I had stop diving a few years ago due to the cost and logistics of renting equipment….)

Now all I need to get is an air tank and a dive suit (either a 7mm wetsuit or a dry suit)… time to start monitoring craigslist! 😀

Sagehen Reservoir

Every summer there is a steady stream of cars driving north past the house headed to Sagehen Reservoir. And every summer I have driven the other direction as I’m not one to [car] camp near other folks (unless they are a few miles out from the trailhead in the middle of the wilderness, then I will talk to them all day long – as my brother found out this summer).

This year however we decided to join a co-worker, his family and some of their friends for a few days camping at Sagehen.

Hanging out around the campfire

As it turned out, all four families (ours included) were adoptive families – three of which were also foster care families. This common bond opened up a plethora of interesting and insightful conversations.

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Historic Baker City

Last weekend was a breath of fresh air.

It was a time of relaxation and friendship as my wife and I had the opportunity to get away and spend a weekend together without our son (Thanks Dad and Mom for babysitting!!) – or any of the stress of being a pastor or homeowner (amazingly enough the later is actually harder!).

The first evening was spent camping next to Philips Lake about twenty miles west of Baker City, Oregon. The next morning we got up lazily and wondered into town to visit the really cool Oregon Trail Interpretive Center.

It was amazing standing in the wagon ruts of the 170 year old Oregon trail thinking about the thousands of people who walked before us headed to a new life.

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Backpacking the Seven Devils

While on the trail, I came up with lots of cool sounding titles for this post… most of which were not that good seeing that I was in a lot of pain (my knee decided to go on vacation halfway through the loop) and that the names “Hells Canyon” and “Seven Devils” make unpolite words polite.

  • “Fighting Seven Devils In Hell”
  • “Going Through Hells (Canyon)”
  • “Trying to Find Heaven in Hells” – this only works if know that ‘Horse Heaven’ is the name of the half way point on the loop…
  • “Overcoming the Devils”
  • (did I mention I was in pain?)

yeah… it was brutal 30 miles….

Tons of deadfalls (i.e. large dead trees laying on top of the trail making one either climb over, under or around – not easy when you are on a narrow cliff side trail), creeks running through the trail, rocks (lots and lots of rocks!!! I mean, it was the HELLS Canyon Wilderness after all), snow drifts (more on that later) and, well, everything else you would think to find in the middle of the wilderness.

It a nutshell (hmm…how many megabits could you fit into an acorn shell?) we should have given ourselves four to five days to complete the Seven Devils loop instead of just three days (note to self, 10 mile a day walks with a 40-lb backpack is NOT a good idea!).

But, on the good side, I got some great pictures! (238 of them in fact..) 😛

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Next Weekend’s Backpacking Trip

Courtesy of Wikipedia

I finally decided on a trail for next weekend’s backpacking trip:  Seven Devils Loop.

It is a 26.7 mile trail around the Seven Devils Mountain near Hells Canyon (west central Idaho). At 9,393 feet, He Devil Mountain is the highest point in the area….only thing is that the mountain plunges 8,043 to the Snake River at the bottom of Hells Canyon – making it the deepest river gorge in North America.

I called the Hells Canyon National Recreation Area folks and they said the trail is fairly clear – granted, there is some snow drifts and ice on the western slopes of the mountains…oh, and there is some deadfall on the trail….but it should be doable.

The temperature in the mountains ranges from the high 60s in the daytime to 30s at night (thank the Lord for mummy bags and silk underwear!).

When it comes to wildlife, there is a good chance of seeing elk, deer, bear, mountain lions, bighorn sheep, cougars, bobcats, golden eagles, hawks, falcons and a variety of other birds and reptiles (not to mention the occasional wolf).

To some it may sound crazy, but to me it sounds like a perfect weekend. 🙂

When Will The Pastor Show Up?

I officiated my fourth wedding Sunday – and, I must say, it was one of the most relaxed weddings I have ever attended.

The wedding was held on Dry Buck Mountain (20 to 30 minutes north of Sweet) at a campsite where the couple and some of their family/friends spent the night. The ceremony itself was in front of a huge boulder with the couple standing barefooted on an elk hide they got a few years back on the same mountain.

Being an outdoor guy, I joined them in going barefoot – only I choose to stand on the grass as to keep a special meaning for the hide. (Granted, the ants did make standing there a tad interesting….luckily they just crossed my feet and didn’t travel up.)

However, hands down the funniest part of the wedding was when I was chatting with some of the guests before the ceremony as we were waiting for the bride to get ready. One of the gentlemen looks around and asks me, “So…when will the pastor show up?”

While it was tempting to reply – “I don’t know…I hope he shows up soon as I’m tried of waiting.” – I didn’t.

Instead, I let him off the hook with a simple, “That would be me.”