Catholic men make annual Alaska backcountry trek for spiritual, physical challenge


Last month a group of Catholic men, joined by Dominican Father Paul Raftery, ventured into Alaska’s backcountry seeking God, friendship and challenging adventures.

The hikers were taking part in the 10th annual Father’s Hike, July 10-13, which brings dads and Catholic priests into the alpine regions of Alaska each summer.

Father Raftery, formerly of Holy Family Cathedral in Anchorage from 2012 to 2014, is now the chaplain at Thomas Aquinas College in Santa Paula, California. He flew to Alaska to join the group, celebrating daily Masses, leading the group in morning and evening prayers and was available to hear confessions as requested.

This year, the trek took the hikers along Crow Pass and then off trail to Paradise Valley in the Chugach Mountains. The men continued on, descending through the remote Upper Ship Creek Valley and camped at Grizzly Bear Lake, the headwaters for Ship Creek. The hike traced across high tundra to a tarn lake above Bird Creek Valley and then 11 miles downhill and into Bird Creek Valley.

Throughout the trek the group camped alongside alpine lakes, shared dinner and informal conversations that ranged over topics such as Catholic theology, liturgy, the saints and outdoor adventure tales.

The yearly outings were initially launched by men from Anchorage’s Holy Family Cathedral with the blessing of the Dominican priests and religious brothers who serve there.

Open to priests, fathers and single men who are Catholic, the hike is also for men considering Catholicism or those who simply want to strengthen their commitment to fatherhood and family.

For information about future hikes and outings, contact Beav Deering at or (907) 258-0386.

'Catholic men make annual Alaska backcountry trek for spiritual, physical challenge'
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