For the sixth straight year, a group of Alaskan Catholic men, joined by several priests, will lace up hiking boots, strap on backpacks and march into the mountains.
The three-day trek, beginning on Sunday, July 12 and concluding on Tuesday, July 14, is known as the “Fathers’ Hike.” The informal adventure brings men together to forge friendship, deepen faith and test their physical limits. Started by a handful of parishioners at Holy Family Cathedral in Anchorage, the informal outing has the blessing of the Dominican priests and religious brothers who serve the cathedral. The trek, though, is essentially an informal hike with friends — no fees, waivers or liability.
According to organizer Beav Deering, the aim of the hike is to provide fathers and priests time to be together with other men for adventure and inspired conversations in Alaska’s backcountry.
Each year several priests join the hike, celebrating daily Mass on giant, moss-covered mountain boulders and hearing confessions along the alpine trails as requested.
The hike is open to priests, fathers and men who are Catholic, as well as those who are considering Catholicism or those who simply want to strengthen their commitment to fatherhood and family, Deering explained.
The trek is not meant to be a “fathers and sons” hike, but intended to challenge adults physically and spiritually.
The hikes, which go far afield from groomed trails, typically take place in the Chugach Mountain Range outside Anchorage or the Talkeetna Range north of Palmer.
In past years 10-14 men have participated in each hike.
“It does have some self-limiting factors, though, and because of that I doubt it will ever be huge,” Deering told the Catholic Anchor after a recent trip. He noted that the hikes are “intentionally difficult” with the aim “to challenge and push the comfort levels of even some of the most savvy outdoorsmen in the group.” But he clarified that one need not be an accomplished mountaineer to join the trip — every year novice hikers have successfully completed the trip.
For more about the hike, contact Beav Deering at email@example.com or call (907) 258-0386.