SROM Blog: Wilderness, Ministry, Leadership

You’re Invited!

August 22nd, 2019

RED ROCKS ALUMNI CLIMBING COURSE

DEEPEN YOUR SKILLS & DEEPEN YOUR RELATIONSHIPS

CRAVING A GETAWAY? NEED A RECONNECTION?

 

Come hang and reconnect with fellow SROM alumni for a 7-day rock climbing course in Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area, one of the country’s premier climbing destinations.

 

CLIMB HARD. PLAY HARD. GO DEEP.

 

Our instructors will work with you and your goals to push you as hard or as little as you would like. The evenings will be times of fun, fellowship and discussion that deepen your connection with God, others, and yourself. All the things you have come to love and expect from a SROM course.

COST: $675 per person

TRAVEL: Fly into Las Vegas (we’ll pick you up) or Drive

DAILY SCHEDULE: Base camping at Red Rocks campground, drive to trailhead, hike to crag, climb, have fun and come back for fellowship in the evening. 7 day course with 5 full days of climbing.

WEATHER: Average High’s of 75°F and Low’s of 50°F

 

OCTOBER 6-12TH

Only Two Weeks Left to Register!

It’s going to be epic.

Bear Aware

August 15th, 2019

What to do when visiting Bear Country

Photo courtesty of yellowstonepark.com

 

Bears. We see them in zoos, hear about them on the news, and there are lots of thoughts and opinions about these amazing and majestic animals.

But the main question we need to be asking is this: What should we be doing to be safe in bear country? For our safety and for theirs?

Here are a few things you can do to become more “Bear Aware” when traveling and visiting bear country.

 

Photo courtesy of Central Park Zoo, NY

Learn About the Locals

Not every place you will visit in North America will have bears. But here in the northern rocky mountain region, we have two kinds: Black Bears and Brown Bears or Grizzly Bears. It’s a good idea to learn more about these two kinds of bears prior to visiting or camping in the northern rockies. It will help you enjoy your visit, and also help the bears have a healthier homelife. 

In addition to learning about these two species of bears, it will help you to learn how best to have a positive experience with them. Just like when someone comes to visit your home, there is an expectation about respecting the space. The same is true when visiting public lands. It’s their home, and we as visitors need to respect that. 

Also, in your research, call the park or land agency you are visiting for more up to date information about what kind of bears you might encounter. Each area will have more information that is current for where you might be camping or hiking. It is important to find out more and not just assume.

Photo courtesy of yellowstone.org

Showing Respect

Respecting the park or the land during your visit goes a long way in helping create positive bear interactions! For example, a bear’s nose is 20 times more powerful than a dog’s nose. So they can smell you AND all your food from a good distance. And trust me, it smells really good to them!

Making sure that your food is property stored and contained when you have left your campsite is a big deal. Many land agencies have specific criteria for how they want you to do it, so be sure to check in with them.

But some good ideas for a campsite would be simply to put all food things in your car or vehicle. It’s a lot harder for them to break into and takes the smellable things away from the places you will be sleeping. Some places have specific storage areas for all your food smellable things, so please use those that have been provided.

If you are backpacking, most agencies require some form of food storage system. It might be an electric bear fence, a bear cannister, or simply to hang your food up in a tree. Be sure to check with the land agency you are traveling in to see what the requirements are for that area.

Photo courtesy of Teton National Park

“Hey Bear!”

There are times of the day and areas where you are more likely to have an encounter with a bear. And to be honest, they will likely be just as surprised by the experience as you are! Ideally, we don’t want to surprise a bear. And you are most likely to surprise them in the morning and at dusk when they are typically more active and in thick trees or brushy areas.

If you find yourself in such circumstances, being loud and noisy will help! Saying things like, “Hey Bear!” out loud will announce your presence to any bears or other larger animals that may be nearby. It may not be that fun to talk or sing loudly, but it will go a long way to helping you and the other wildlife choose the type of encounter to participate in.

 

Remember the rule of thumb: if you put your thumb up, and it covers the animal entirely, you are a safe distance away.

 

If you do encounter a bear, do not run and do not approach it. Approaching a bear can be taken as a sign of aggression. And that certainly isn’t what you want! And running from the bear tells it that you are prey- because prey typically run from predators. So if you run, it will likely trigger the bear’s predatory instinct. And they run fast, so you can’t out run them anyway.

But what should you do? Again, talk to it loudly. Make yourself seem bigger. Bears have great sense of smell, but not very good eyesight. Start walking slowly away, but never turn your back on the bear.

And also take out your bear spray. Yep, bear spray. It’s a very strong pepper spray that you can use if a bear starts to come towards you or decides to charge. It won’t cause permanent damage, but will go a long way to creating a negative interaction with a human so as to deter the bear from seeking out such an experience again.

If you do have a negative encounter with a bear, be sure to report it to the land agency you are visiting so that they may be able to help other visitors and monitor the bear as well.

Photo courtesy of Lake Clark National Park & Preserve

Bears are such amazing creatures! But they are also very wild and untamed. It is important when we visit areas where bears live to show them the reverence and respect they deserve. And that includes monitoring our own behavior so as not putting ourselves or them in danger because of our own selfish desires and laziness. 

Respect them enough to obey the rule of thumb, to keep your food away from them, and to not get close for that perfect photo shot. Because it is worth it to respect these animals and their space to just be in and observe their presence and leave it at that. 

 

WANT TO EXPERIENCE MORE?

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Pocket Wilderness is BACK!

August 1st, 2019

We are Excited to Announce Pocket Wilderness Guide Training is Back!

You may have heard about Pocket Wilderness last year when we did our initial “Call Out” for interest. Well, God has been moving MIGHTILY in this brand new program!

If you are interested in becoming a Pocket Wilderness Guide in your area, we are currently accepting applications for our 2020 Team! 

The Vision of Pocket Wilderness is to encourage believers and seekers alike to escape distractions and re-connect with God, others, and your purpose.

We believe God is calling facilitators and drawing participants into a time of “biblical wilderness.” He wants to refresh His people and kindle points of light around the world.

We recognize there are people who may never go on an expedition style SROM course in Wyoming. But we believe that each and every person would benefit and enjoy a focused time in God’s creation. 

Jesus Christ throughout His ministry on earth modeled a pattern of withdrawing to the wilderness to pray to His Father. Biblical history has established wilderness as a medium for God to speak tenderly to His people and draw them closer to Himself. 

So we are calling out to the Body of Christ to join us for this coming year to escape, go, and connect on a deeper level with God, each other, and the plans and purposes God has for each of His children: to make disciples who make disciples in the context of wilderness. 

“The daily list of seemingly urgent things to do, respond to, schedules to keep, emails and texts to respond to as well as interest in the news is all good but intrusive and interrupting to a rhythm that is more conducive to healthy growth and real productivity.  The schedule and rhythm we had on course allowed predictable quiet time, natural interactions, physical activity and enough rest to connect with God and others in meaningful ways.”

David Poer - Pocket Wilderness Guide Training 2019

This training course will give you the knowledge, skills, and abilities to start up and facilitate Pocket Wilderness Weekends in your local areas. 

Here’s what Pocket Wilderness Guide Training includes:

1) Facilitating the physical journey: Instructing and facilitating weekend journeys into local or regional outdoor settings. Empowering each participant to return to the wilderness again and again.

2) Promoting active stillness: Teaching the Gospel of Christ for life application. Modeling Christian solitude, contemplation, fellowship and prayer.

3) Framing of spiritual solitude: Framing times of spiritual solitude and providing opportunities for divine encounter.

4) Establishing authentic community: Building a fellowship of authentic community through encouragement of intentional time with God, self and others.

Join the Pocket Wilderness Team of 2020!

Click the button below to apply or for more information. You can also call 307.755.0642×100 and talk with Admissions for more information about this exciting New Program!

Is Cleanliness next to Godliness?

July 25th, 2019

Staying Healthy and Clean in the Backcountry

“You must keep the Israelites separate from things that make them unclean, so they will not die in their uncleanness for defiling my dwelling place, which is among them.” Leviticus 15:31 (NIV)

Staying clean when you are surrounded by dirt, and everything that makes dirt is definitely a mighty task. If you do a word search through the Bible, you will find a lot of information on how to remain clean both physically and spiritually. Especially in the Pentateuch, otherwise known as the first 5 books of the Bible.

It is incredible that an All Powerful God cares enough for us as His people to give us such mundane rules to help us stay clean. But, that is just it. The Israelites when they came out of Egypt had been in slavery for so long, they were unable to think past the here an now. They were in survival mode. And God wanted them to thrive in the wilderness to re-learn how to live and live a life that was full.

And, it is not so different with people who have never experienced wilderness in modern times. We are used to having clean water at our finger tips. We are used to having complex waste removal systems. These are just a few of the things that in a modern society, we have immediate access to, but do not in the wilderness. And it can be a bit of an adjustment to most of our participants coming on a course for the first time.

Here are some ways in which you and others can stay healthy, clean, and thrive.

 

 1. Clean Body = Sound Mind

Hand-washing is the single most important habit for health and good hygiene in the field. This should be reiterated throughout your time in the wilderness. Time should be taken in the morning, after the day’s activities, and before ALL food preparation for washing hands, brushing teeth, etc. People should not feel rushed or unable to take the time to do this properly. Everyone on a trip should be required to have hand sanitizer. This should be used as a food group before every meal.

Personal items like chap-stick, water bottles, and spoons should not be shared, even among friends. For trips longer than four days, and many that may be shorter, it’s a good idea take time for swimming and bathing. Biodegradable soap and scrubbing should be encouraged and practiced by all. 

**Pro Tip: When using Biodegradable soap, you want to be 200 ft from the nearest water source or else the soap gets into the water. And if that water source you are also drinking from, whoops! You drink soap. Gross!!**

 

2. In the Kitchen

Before preparing food, everyone should thoroughly apply hand sanitizer or wash their hands with soap. There should be NO taste-testing or licking of group utensils, even among friends.

Friends don’t give friends germs.

Use the ‘pour method’ as opposed to the ‘reaching in method’ for food. Do not allow people to stick their hands into bags of food like brown sugar or trail mix.

**Pro Tip: The ‘Pour Method’ for all food prep is a really easy way to keep yourself and your kitchen area clean in the backcounty. It reduces spills and contamination.**

 3. Doing Your ‘Doo-ty’

Bathroom skills, techniques, and practices are often a tough topic to cover, but essential. In terms of hygiene, make sure that you are wiping appropriately in order to prevent ‘itchy bum.’ Snow is the best natural toilet paper option for maximum cleanliness. Think of it as a cold bidet! 

Wet wipes are useful, but must be packed out. They cannot be buried in your cat-hole or trench as they do not decompose quickly or effectively. So you need to pack them out with other trash. You can wrap a small ziplock bag with duct tape for your wipes and other trash like tampons.

After going to the bathroom, it is best to wash your hands with soap and water, as this will remove any particles that may be lingering on your hands. However, hand sanitizer is an acceptable option. Fecal matter on fingers or under fingernails is the #1 cause of Giardia. And ‘Beaver Fever’ is not something you want to get. So washing your hands is a MUST!

**Pro Tip: Using wipes instead of normal toilet paper in the backcounty is an easy way to keep clean. Do not use alcohol or antibacterial wipes! You will regret it! Instead, use baby wipes or wet wipes as they are designed to be used on such areas of the human body.**

God Wants us to Thrive!

God wants us to thrive in the wilderness while we are learning and growing with Him just as much as He wanted that for Israel. And God wants that for you too. Take the time to practice these three things on your next trip, and you too will thrive, stay healthy and clean in the backcountry!

WANT TO EXPERIENCE MORE?

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Thriving in Extremes: Epic Wilderness Weather

July 18th, 2019

Thriving in Epic Weather Conditions

By: Laura Albert

It was early October in the mountains. My dog Lily and I were out on a solo trip for the weekend for some much needed “us” time. I had a great plan to explore some more of the high country on the border between Colorado and Wyoming. There are some great treks to be had that would allow both Lily and I some relaxation and some challenge for a long weekend. I had a plan, but then had to epically change my itinerary due to a winter storm being forecasted a week before it was anticipated to hit. And at above 3500 ft, if they forecast it that far out, you can be 100% sure that it’s not going to be pretty!

So I changed my plans, and went to a place in the mountains that I knew well and had hiked often. Knowing that weather was coming, I essentially packed for “winter camping” just in case. I also packed extra fuel and food for Lily and myself. I told friends where I was going, and when I’d get back. Then we were off to the high country!

We arrived at the trail-head and the weather was sunny, but a little windy. And there was snow. Lots of it. I grabbed snowshoes that live in my car all year long, my gaiters, and off we went on the trail.

As we hiked, it was slow going because the trail was hidden by waist deep or higher snow drifts in places. And as the day progressed, the wind speed increased a lot. So much so that the gusts were literally blowing me over with my backpack on into said snowdrifts. And though it was sunny with no clouds in the sky, I couldn’t help but wonder if I shouldn’t turn back while I could. It seemed like that epic snow storm was coming sooner rather than later…

Mountains & Weather 

Weather in the mountains in my humble opinion is a lot like weather at sea: predictable in its unpredictability. You can have an idea of what to expect going in, and meteorologists for all that we make fun of them a bit, do base their predictions off of certain criteria and observations that are measured. 

But, the biggest lesson I have learned about travel at sea and in the mountains is be prepared for most things, and know when to bail when it gets bad. There are things that you can do to be prepared, but it is important to make good choices when faced with epic weather conditions. Here are a few things to help you not just survive, but thrive in the face of epic weather. 

1. Stay Humble

Staying humble in the face of nature is a must. Knowing your limits, and acknowledging the smallness of yourself in the face of an All Mighty God who commands the weather will go a long way to helping you thrive. Not only that, but submitting to His authority and understanding that He is in control of the weather and that He loves and cares for you will help you stay calm in the face of some extreme conditions. Remember, He isn’t trying to hurt you, but help you grow. 

2. Plan Ahead

 While it’s hard to trust a 10 day forecast, it’s at least a place to start. With all of the weather spotting and technology around the world measuring pressure, moisture, windspeed, etc you can be sure that if something “big” is on the way and people are talking about, it’s worth taking note of and planning accordingly. 

You can be sure the first few days of a forecast will be mostly accurate for that area. After that, it’s good to keep a eye on the horizon.

3. Eyes on the Skies

Learning to take note of your surroundings in the backcountry is always a good idea. It will keep you from getting lost, hurt, and will give you more information than you can possibly imagine! Digging deep and recalling those early grade school years from studying the clouds will go a long way in helping you learn your environment and what’s coming. 

Cloud formations can tell you a lot about what is going on right now, and what is coming. They can tell you how much moisture is in the air, how fast wind speeds are (in general terms) in the different atmospheric levels, and they can help you plan for either a small squall or a major system heading your way. There are lots of great websites that can help you learn more about cloud formations and what they mean. Below are a few good options:

           https://science-edu.larc.nasa.gov/cloud_chart/

Making an Informed Choice 

I ended up deciding for Lily and myself to stay the course. And while the wind was gusting at or around 60 mph (and it sounded like a freight train!) the rest of the day, I chose a site only a few miles in from the trail-head and away from any dead trees in order to be safe. The clouds were non-existent from what I could observe, and the skies stayed clear all night long. And though the wind howled, and the temperatures did drop, I felt good about the choice to stay out that night. 

The next morning, after only a few hours of un-interrupted sleep, the winds were still strong, and the clouds started rolling in. It was at this point, that I made the choice to head home rather than continue on for another few days. Because I could see the situation changing rather rapidly. And honestly, I am glad I did rather than toughing it out. Because that night and the next several days dropped over a foot of wet, heavy snow above 5,000 ft. 

The high country is beautiful and well worth spending time in! But it can give you some challenges with the weather than can roll in unannounced and unexpectedly. Taking the time to learn what to look for, and plan for your trip can go a long way to making sure that you are thriving rather than simply surviving what the wilderness brings. 

WANT TO EXPERIENCE MORE?

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Laura Albert

Laura has been full time with SROM since February of 2017. In addition to writing, she and her dog Lily enjoy going on adventures and pushing the limits of “the norm” in their daily rhythms. Most recently that includes the building of their own Tiny House on wheels this summer.

To learn more about about Laura, click here.

Creating a Culture of Honor

July 11th, 2019

The Importance of OSV.

Every community is unique. Each individual brings different strengths and weaknesses to the group, and each group faces distinct challenges during their time together. SROM seeks to foster a healthy and transformative culture, both in our office and in the field.

A large part of that culture is encouraging an atmosphere in which individuals are Oriented, Safe, and Valued or OSV.

When people are OSV, they are able to feel connected to the group at a deeper level. 

One of the core components of a SROM course is authentic community. When people are able to foster an atmosphere of authenticity and genuine love for one another, deep transformation can happen.

One of the tools SROM uses in helping foster authentic community on course is encouraging an OSV culture – a culture in which students and instructors are oriented, safe, and valued. SROM full-time staff send course information, follow-up with students and parents regarding course preparation, and answer questions about courses to help OSV students before they arrive at the building.

Once students arrive at SROM, their instructors then describe and model an OSV culture immediately at the beginning of the course, and intentionally refer to it daily as the culture is being ‘caught’ by the students. 

What does it mean to be Oriented?

Being Oriented is rather simple: do you know what is going on? Here at SROM, that can be as simple as a check in on what the route is for the day and those logistics (milage to be hiked, elevation gain, lessons needing to be taught, etc). But in daily life, getting oriented might be a bit different.

For example, you might have a job. Kids need to get to school, or sports events. There might be an appointment you have that day, etc. Getting oriented yourself and orienting others is as simple as communicating what the major events that are supposed to happen that day in order to plan for them. So we are responsible for communicating the events of our day to others. But also, you are responsible for asking the people at work, on a course, or at home if you feel less than sure about the plans.

Creating a Safe Space

While physical safety is always the goal, the Safe in the OSV culture is not just referring to physical safety, but a much larger concept. It is important that all of our staff and students experience emotional and spiritual safety too. Because individuals who do not feel emotionally or spiritually safe are less likely to be fully engaged and trust their environment.

That is why we work hard to foster an environment of open, honest, and humble communication. Often it is difficult to perceive if someone feels unsafe or unvalued in the moment. But, good debriefing time and creating space and the invitation for people to express their concern goes a long way to helping people feel safe and trust again.

How to accomplish this is also simple: allow for honest feedback and ask open ended questions.

In creating a space for people to respond without censure, shame, or guilt, when you ask hard questions people will give you an honest answer about how they felt. Then, validate their feelings/emotions, and ask follow up or clarifying questions to their response.

Such as, “Sue, I get the sense that you were really frustrated by that. Is that true? [Yes] What could I have maybe done instead to help you feel safe in this situation?”

In this way, you are helping repair the broken trust with that person and reaffirming that they are in safe environment with you.

Everyone Has Value

At SROM, we recognize that each person is created in the image of God and has intrinsic value. Period. We are all Imago Dei or image bearers of God. Each person who walks through our doors is accepted, valued, and loved regardless of skill or ability level.

While society may demand that individuals prove, produce, or perform, we recognize and affirm the inherent value in each person. When an OSV culture is established, people are able to practice seeing each other as children of God and submitting to the Christ in one another. In essence, students learn what it means to be the body of Christ to one another.

It is worth noting the distinct difference between paying lip-service to valuing others, and truly valuing someone despite their quirks, differences, or sins. It’s easy to merely say that each person is valuable, but it is much harder to practice valuing and honoring each person! However, it is important to have a clear understanding of what valuing (i.e., loving) one another looks like so that valuing doesn’t translate as enabling.

For example, a student who consistently is not ready on time because they are slow at packing their bag may complain that the group is not valuing them. In reality, they are not valuing the group by choosing not to take responsibility for themselves by working harder (e.g., begin packing sooner, wake up earlier, learn to be more efficient when packing) to be ready on time.

 

OSV culture creates a space where people are shown respect and honor.

An environment that establishes and maintains a culture of OSV towards one another will empower people, not enable poor behaviors and attitudes. An empowering culture has the potential to be transformational and bring God’s Kingdom here to Earth.

WANT TO EXPERIENCE MORE?

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The Battle of Humility

July 4th, 2019

Wearing the Mantle of Humility

Josh Horak has been on staff with Solid Rock Outdoor Ministries for over a decade now. He is one of our directors and also pastors a local church here in Laramie. This week, we will hear from Josh about how to recognize the moments that call for Humility before God and Man. 

WANT TO EXPERIENCE MORE?

Check out an opportunity to learn and grow on a wild adventure – connecting with God, others, and your purpose.

What You Bring is Enough

June 27th, 2019

No matter the day or the offering, You are enough.

By: Laura Albert

“But for now, dear servant Jacob, listen – yes, you Israel, my personal choice. God who made you has something to say to you; the God who formed you in the womb wants to help you. Don’t be afraid, dear servant Jacob, Jeshurun, the one I chose. For I will pour water on the thirsty ground and send streams coursing through the parched earth. I will pour out my Spirit into your descendants and my blessing on your children.” Isaiah 44:1-3 (MSG)

The desert and canyon country is amazing! It is a place of extremes and opposites. There are large awe inspiring walls and formations towering in front of you, and up and around you. There are dry, seeming desolate places, and lush hanging gardens that are full of life!

It is one of the reasons why I first fell in love with the Southwest. The epic grand scale beauties and the small little details, in this world of opposites, draw me into this wildness and closer into the glory of God’s heart.

Last year, I went on SROM’s Wilderness Ministry Professionals Course for professional development trip! I went into the canyon country of Utah unsure of what God would develop in me there.

Prior to going, I had felt like an emotional hot mess and inadequate. I felt ineffective in what God had called me to do and was honestly doubting whether I was in the right place. At one point I cried out, “God, why me? I’m no good at this!” The voices of my past and the voice of the enemy kept coming at me from all sides before I even stepped into the van to travel to the trailhead.

You are chosen 

But on Day 2 of fourteen days in the wilderness, God gave me the above passage from Isaiah (I looked back into my journal to be sure…) on which to ruminate, even before I could fully digest it. “But for now, dear servant Jacob [ Laura], listen – yes, you Israel [Laura], my personal choice,” Isaiah 44:1 (MSG).

He was showing me that contrary to the good, the bad, and ugly that I had done before as a leader, I am His personal choice.

That no matter what I bring that day, I am enough. I was chosen for this.

I was handpicked by God for this time, this moment and this purpose. There were days that I felt too weak and unable to hike with the load on my back. He knew that, and kept speaking into me, step-by-step, that I am His personal choice.

I noticed that day-after-day, no matter how strong or how weak or however I felt, I came before the Lord to give what I had each and every day. Because what I have to give to Him is an act of worship. Because each day and each step I give is enough for God. I am giving Him my best in that moment, in that day, and it is enough.

On those days when I felt the weakest, and needed help from my teammates, even that dear friends, was an offering to God. And truth be told, every offering that I give Him every day, whatever I had that day, was enough. I was reminded that God is good, and He will take the offering I give Him each day in each moment, and multiply it above and beyond what I can imagine.

Even beyond that, He spoke to me from Isaiah that I am worthy to be a leader. I was designed that way in the womb! I am worthy because of Jesus, who chose me for such a time as this. To lead, to give of myself, and to be used by the Father for His purposes and His glory here on earth.

So. Are. You.

You are covered in the blood of Jesus. You are God’s personal choice to be the wineskin of heaven to “pour out water on the thirsty ground,” for you are the “streams coursing through the parched earth” that God is sending into the dry lands to bring that living water to the thirsty hearts who long for the life and freedom that Jesus brings.

So, as God says, “Don’t be afraid, dear servant Jacob [insert your name], Jeshurun, the one I chose” (Jeshurun means “Upright One” in Hebrew).

Don’t be afraid. You were not only created for a time and place such as this, but you were chosen to be here. You are worthy to be here. It has always a part of God’s plan that you are here today, reading this story, journeying with the amazing people in your communities and places that God made.

What you bring to this day, to this moment, is enough. Because you have first brought it as an offering to God. He will multiply what you bring to the table to quench the hunger and thirst of those longing for the life that Jesus brings.

For He is good, and He tells of this promise in the last verse: “For I will pour water on the thirsty ground and send streams coursing through the parched earth. I will pour out my Spirit into your descendants and my blessing on your children.”

WANT TO EXPERIENCE MORE?

Check out an opportunity to fully unplug and go on a wild adventure – connecting with God, others, and your purpose.

Laura Albert

Laura has been full time with SROM since February of 2017. In addition to writing, she and her dog Lily enjoy going on adventures and pushing the limits of “the norm” in their daily rhythms. Most recently that includes the building of their own Tiny House on wheels this summer.

To learn more about about Laura, click here.

Pedal Predicaments

June 20th, 2019

How to Take Care of Your Feet in the Backcountry

By: Laura Albert

Your feet. 

It is a constant battle to take care of your feet in the backcountry. To keep them warm, dry, blister and pain free. It is a battle each person takes on when they make the choice to go into the wilderness on foot. 

And trust me, I get that the struggle is REAL. I go through blister systems like water goes through mesh. Every time I buy a pair of boots I pray that they don’t give me blisters. Because by now I have come to realize that my feet get blisters. All the time. And seriously after almost 16 years guiding, I have a few tips and tricks that I have learned the hard way, so you don’t have to! 

Be One with your Feet

The first “Step” in this whole process is to know your feet. Just like each person is uniquely and fearfully made, each pair of feet is unique! So when you are looking at systems, new boots, or whatever ped-shed you are wearing it is important to know thyself. 

Because truly, how can you expect someone else to tell you what you need, if you don’t have the basic awareness of your own two feet? Take the time to understand your own feet:

  • What’s your gait like? Fast, long, short, uneven, etc. 
  • What part of your foot you step on most (outside, inside, ball, heel, etc)? 
  • Do you spread your toes for balance? 
  • Do you have a high or low arch in your foot? 
  • Do you have a high or low volume foot? (ie how much space in a shoe does your foot need?)
  • Do you have a wide or narrow heel?
  • Do your feet sweat a lot? Or do they stay really dry?

All these questions are a great place to start in getting to know your own feet and an essential process in finding shoes and boots that will help you thrive, rather than just survive. 

Plan Ahead and Prepare

While it is certainly the most important of the Leave No Trace Principles -in my book at least- it is definitely applicable when it comes to foot care.

You do not – I repeat: DO NOT! – want to purchase new hiking shoes or boots a mere days before you go on your adventure. This is a recipe for disaster, pain, and suffering! And, you can also do some serious damage to yourself.

Plan ahead and purchase your footwear several months before your intended trip. Then, take small day hikes to test drive them. Or, if you are unsure if they will work well for the long haul, take your boots and a weighted pack to the gym and use the stair stepper or treadmill to test them out. In this way, you will more likely be able to return them.

*Pro tip: most outdoor footwear stores will not accept boots or shoes that have been worn outside. So do your training indoors and within 30 days, and you will have a higher success rate in returning those boots or exchanging them.*

If you feel a “hot spot” or a spot that is pinching or uncomfortable. Stop. Expose. Treat. Or SET if you will. This is your body telling you something isn’t right. So SET aside your pride and take a moment to do some self care. It may seem inconvient to stop at that moment, but it is far more inconvient when you can’t go the miles because of something that was avoidable.

Lastly, have a foot care system packed. There are many ideas out there of what works. And honestly, I have tried them all. Literally. The things that I have found work well for me and I keep in my foot care pack are these:

 

ArmaSkin Liner Socks

These socks are a compression sock that have a silicone lining on the interior of the sock that help it stick to your skin.

Doesn’t matter if your feet are wet, sweaty, cold, or whatever these socks don’t move once they are on your feet. Which in turn significantly reduces friction and opportunities for hot spots and blisters to form.

I will never go hiking without these socks ever again. They are amazing and make my blisters and fear of blisters burn away like the morning fog. 

Leukotape

This tape is better than any other tape I have used for treating hotspots or blisters. Bar none. It is super sticky and has a softer side that faces outwards to reduce friction on the spot that already is having issues. 

This tape is bombproof and stays in place so well! I used it while hiking in canyon country of Escalante in and out of creeks and rivers, scrambling up canyon walls, and so much sand that it gets into your imaginary friend.

This tape stayed in place for three days before I removed it to check on the blister that was there. I’m telling you, this is a must have in every hikers foot care kit!

Duct Tape

When you are in the moment and let’s say, you don’t have either of the first two items handy, Duct Tape will work well. I have used duct tape more times than I can count on my heels to reduce friction within a wool liner and wool hiking sock. 

 

 

The great part of duct tape, is that it is really affordable and something that you will likely have with you on your trip anyway. So it is accessible and reduces friction really well! Plus, I mean who doesn’t like teal and magenta cheetah print as a fashion accessory?

The downside to duct tape, is that it can also create more issues. If your feet get super wet or sweaty, the sticky layer will not stick to your skin and has the potential to bunch up within your sock layers. And thus creating even more issues with your hotspots and even making new ones. 

All in all, you were made to thrive not simply endure on your backcountry adventures. And keeping your feet heathy is a surefire way to ensure that you start and end your trip smiling, and excited to go on your next one! 

These are just a few tips and tricks, and there are many out there! But truly from a long time blister sufferer, take it from me, that prevention and planning are guaranteed to ensure that your feet will carry you through the paths you travel. 

Happy Feet = Happy Trails!

WANT TO EXPERIENCE MORE?

Check out an opportunity to fully unplug and go on a wild adventure – connecting with God, others, and your purpose.

Laura Albert

Laura has been full time with SROM since February of 2017. In addition to writing, she and her dog Lily enjoy going on adventures and pushing the limits of “the norm” in their daily rhythms. Most recently that includes the building of their own Tiny House on wheels this summer.

To learn more about about Laura, click here.

Drum Roll Please……

May 30th, 2019

Welcome to our 2019 Summer Staff!

We want to take this opportunity to give a warm welcome to our incredible summer staff for 2019! They are working both in the field and on the SROM base to bring God’s Kingdom here on earth.

Please be keeping them in your prayers this summer!

Laura Albert

Laura has been full time with SROM since February 2017. She and her dog Lily enjoy going on adventures and pushing the limits of “the norm” in their daily rhythms. Most recently that includes the building of their own Tiny House on wheels this summer!

Andrew Arnold

I have spent my entire life adventuring outside in God’s creation.  My earliest memories include backpacking, climbing, horseback riding and biking in the outdoors with my family.  The wilderness and times of connection and encounter with God and others have shaped who I am today. I am deeply thankful to Jesus and my family for giving me the opportunity to advance the Kingdom in the context of creation. I have been married to my amazing wife, Jessica, for 17 years.  She is incredible and my best friend and most faithful supporter. We have three wonderful children, Isabel age 16, Sara age 14, Flynn age 11. They are my greatest delight!

Susan Brubaker

God has created me with a love of adventure and people! One of my favorite activities while on a wilderness trip is go rock jumping or rope swinging into a lake or river. One of the things I hope that people take away from a Srom  course is a deeper understanding of how much they are loved by their Father.

Karly Buer

Karly is a lighthearted adventurer. She is passionate about many things, including puppies and candy, and above even those is her love for sharing an experience of the Creator within creation with others by entering into wild spaces. Her adventures of choice include: climbing, snowboarding, backpacking, white water and mountain biking.

Emily Cable

Colorado girl turned Wyomingite, Emily loves Jesus, enjoys the outdoors, and delights in sharing both with others! Ultimate Frisbee, volleyball, guitar, singing, family, and spontaneity with friends are a few of her favorite things! Guiding and working full-time for SROM since 2014, she has witnessed God’s work of captivating hundreds of our students and instructors with His love and goodness, changing lives forever! “An adventure is an inconvenience rightly considered.” – G. K. Chesterton

Jacob Chmielowiec

Jacob believes in the life changing power of the gospel as well as the special role wilderness plays in spiritual development. These convictions brought him to SROM as summer staff in 2009 and led him to join full time staff in 2012. Jacob works at SROM because: “There are desperate needs all around the world for men and women who will lay their lives down to serve God and one another. I want to be a part of that.” Jacob is passionate about making other people awesome in Christ, mountaineering/alpine climbing, photography, film, music, and learning.

Derek Cook

This year will be my 4th consecutive season instructing at SROM. I have a passion for discipleship and church planting and I’m pursuing a call to pastoral ministry. In my free time I enjoy ultimate frisbee, trail running, CrossFit, and rock climbing. I’m the guy on the left. 🙂

Shannon Davis

Shannon has been instructing seasonally with SROM since 2014, and uses her educational talents in the public school classroom as a teacher during the academic year. Her primary field of interest is climbing, but she also enjoys mountain biking, skiing, caving, backpacking, and Marvel movies. Her life has been transformed and she has been functioning more and more in her Christ-given identity in the context of spiritual community and Kingdom family.

Jon Deviney

I started hiking and adventuring about 15 years ago. Last year I completed the Wilderness Leadership Minor and learned all kinds of new things! Mostly how Jesus encounters us there and living more as a son. This has given me the confidence to open a business and mentor young adults. I’m truly blessed to be a son of the living King!

Rachel Engle

Rachel is a recent addition to the full-time staff at SROM and is excited to be instructing two teen courses this summer. She has signed up for the Pikes Peaks this summer as well so she’ll be packing her running shoes!

Steve Ericson

I am excited to have the privilege of instructing with SROM again this summer. I particularly love the Father family course and the joy of digging into the Father heart of God. I am married to my highschool sweetheart Becky and we have 3 children Gracie, Corban and Colter.

Logan Gill

Born and raised in Tennessee, Logan grew up on bluegrass music and spending time in the outdoors.  After completing his BA in Leadership Studies at Regent University he walked away from a fifteen-year career as a fire and rescue professional to pursue a God given passion for wilderness and helping people grow into the leaders God created them to be.  Logan and his bride Rachel (also a SROM instructor) have been married for nearly six years.

Rachel Gill

Rachel is a true southern girl from Florida and Tennessee and her internal struggle will forever be mountains versus ocean. She grew a love for the outdoors camping, hiking, and traveling with her family from a young age. She has a passion to be a part of the transformation and bonding experience that happens in the wilderness. She and her husband (Logan, also a SROM instructor) sold their home and most belongings, moved into their travel trailer, and have been traveling the US for the past year.

Tim Grunstra

My name is Timothy Grunstra, Tim if you like. I am a full time staff member and instructor for SROM. I am married to Jamie Grunstra, the most amazing women alive! I am wildly in love with my savior Jesus Christ and have been abundantly blessed to work in his great creation with his awesome people. Be blessed and may all good things happen to you!

Parker Gulbranson

I feel most at home when I am working at the zip line, enjoying a sunrise hike or going mudding with my friends. I recently graduated from John Brown University with a degree in Outdoor Leadership Ministries and plan to pursue a career in program development for wilderness ministry. My hobbies include playing ukulele and harmonica, ultimate frisbee, unicycling, hunting, backpacking and making toast.

Emily Hall

It was in the context of wilderness that I first considered the reality of a loving God. I began working at SROM in the summers during college (way back in 2006!) and joined full time staff in 2010. My passion for wilderness ministry is rooted in my own experiences, as well as routinely witnessing Jesus tenderly draw people and then meet them. I married my awesome husband in 2012, and we had our daughter, Sylvie, in 2017.

Daria Holler

Daria has worked for SROM full-time since 2015. She’s super proud of her husband, Austin, for recently graduating with his nursing degree! She loves laughing and deep conversation. A fan of miniature model making!

Bryton Maclennan

Bryton grew up in the tiny town of Ouray, nestled in the San Juan Mountains of Colorado. God used Bryton’s parents and the church to captivate him with the gospel at the age of 6. Caught by the grace of a loving savior, Bryton has been on a journey of transformative discipleship ever since. An explorer at heart, Bryton would often roam the mountains of Colorado. There he developed a passion for hiking and climbing. God used these mountain wanderings to call Bryton, speak tenderly to him, humble him, and teach him to walk boldly in faith, often leaving him awestruck at the majesty of the Creator. While attending Grove City College, PA, God taught Bryton the power and joy of leading others into the wilderness and allowing God to use those spaces to reveal the Gospel of Jesus Christ. It is with joy that Bryton feels called to serve SROM, excited to enable others to go “Further up and further in!” -C.S. Lewis, The Last Battle

Joanna Richardson

Lover of God!! Gifts he has given me… coffee, bonfires, sleeping under the stars, family, and friends!

Andrew Schindler

I moved to Laramie, WY in fall of 2018 and I am stoked about sharing the Father’s love with anyone and everyone! Let’s get out in the wilderness and experience His presence…and also climb some rocks!

Audrey Stelzer

A Michigan native who loves God, people, llamas, and creation!

Chelsea Van Essen

I have been an instructor for 8 years and love nearly all things in life. I love the mountains and nature, people, sunshine, flowers, and God 🙂 

Melita Zuck

My favorite place on earth is in the wilderness surrounded by natural beauty and order. I’m passionate about going where I’ve never been, and inviting others to join in the adventure! I spend the winter in Pennsylvania, and no matter where I am I love creating safe places for learning and growth. My name is Melita, and I hope to someday be part of your story!