Bill Harper, the founder and director of Pilgrim Trekking, has been working with young people in the wilderness for three decades. As an Episcopal Priest Bill developed a parish-based wilderness program for the young people in his own parish, a program that has changed and sustained parish youth for 20 years…

 

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Sawtooth Summer.

September 1, 2017

 

                                                             

 

 

There is no doubt that I am infatuated with Idaho’s Sawtooth Mountains. And I am in love with the effort of traveling Sawtooth trails with teenagers.

 

I suppose I’d be in love with the experience of long trips regardless of the mountain range, but over the last 10 years, travleling many ranges and trails with High School students, I have seen the way the ragged ridge edges of the Sawtooths, and their high and clear lakes, reflect awe and wonder on so many young faces. And that’s what I’m looking for—awe and wonder. I want to see it in the faces of my traveling companions, and I want it for myself.

 

Frankly, awe and wonder will save us. And lacking it, we retreat to the false security of what is safe and familiar.

 

And so I keep going back to those mountains. I keep trying to get others to travel with me. And I have not yet been disappointed.

 

The Sawtooths in the Summer have a unique drama. All Winter long the snow piles up, and access to remote lakes is impossible. Even in June mountain passes can be blocked by old drifts of snow, and trails run with rivers of water. But by the middle of July Spring emerges, and just days later there is Summer. I love ascending the trail from Alice Lake, up toward Snowyside Pass, and seeing the Avalanche Lilies emerge from snow and soft, wet soil—while at the same time watching my traveling companions sweat in the heat and looking for shade under pines that are a thousand years old.

 

This is Summer in the Sawtooths.

 

And, well, as awesome and wonderful and popular as these mountains are, I’ve learned to find places that are remote and empty—where a group of Pilgrims can find solitude and quiet, or erupt with joy only to hear the the echoes of their voices bounce from wall to wall.

 

So I keep going back. It takes time and some cost to get there. And every minute, and every ounce of energy, is worth it. The Summer of 2017 was amazing—and even now, I can’t wait for next Summer!

 

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Good. Good. People.

November 2, 2018

Pilgrim. Tourist. Nomad.

October 1, 2018

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