SROM Blog: Wilderness, Ministry, Leadership

Authentic Community Brings Freedom

July 12th, 2018

It’s a good habit to get into to reflect on the many things to be thankful for in July. The freedoms many of us enjoy are not shared with all of our brothers and sisters in Christ around the world. So I am very grateful for the freedoms that my family and I enjoy and benefit from by living in the United States.

But one other thing that I am very grateful for is the freedom that being in Authentic Christian Community brings. This freedom to walk in the identity that God has given not just me, but all of us in a loving and authentic community. It is one of the things we emphasize for our students on our courses: how to live and grow in authentic community in the wilderness.

I am sure that many of you know this section of scripture about abiding:

“I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. 2 Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. 3 Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you. 4 Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. 5 I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. 6 If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. 7 If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. 8 By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples. 9 As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. 10 If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. 11 These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full. -John 15:1-11 ESV-


Jesus tells his disciples that when we abide with him and his words abide in us, we will bear much fruit and how much we are loved by both Jesus and the Father. But how does abiding in Christ give us freedom?


When we are in right relationship as a “branch” on the vine, we get all the benefits and resources from the “vine” (ie God the Father). When we have all those amazing resources, we are at peace, we can grow and thrive, we have intimate knowledge of our identity because it is being poured into us. This is the direct result of being attached and connected in authentic community to the vine! When we are connected, we have the freedom to be who we were created to be. We also have the freedom then to grow and walk in the destiny we have been called to by the “vine” or Jesus.


We have become so independent in the United States, that we have forgotten on some level that we were created to be relational and in relationships. Not just with God, but with each other too! There are other “branches” on the vine and we interact and grow with and around each other. When we are connected to the vine, we also have the freedom to love those around us well.

We have the freedom to do this, because of all the love and resources the vine is pouring into the branches. It is through this that Jesus says, “and that your joy may be full” or other translations say “complete.” Our joy is complete and absolutely full when we are abiding in the Father and in Jesus. Which gives us freedom from fear, despair, sadness, etc. It is this perfect joy and love that gives us this freedom!


And while we experience many amazing freedoms here in the United States, this freedom through abiding in Christ Jesus that frees every man, woman, and child around the world from bondage and it is His perfect love and joy that allows them to walk and thrive in that freedom. This freedom had a high price, and Jesus humbled Himself to pay it because of His love.

So I encourage you to not attempt to be a more independent “branch”, but rather to grow in co-dependence with Christ. For it is by His blood and stripes we are made free.

How you can be praying:

40/40 students & Instructors

20/20 Teen girls students & instructors

20/20 Teen boys students & instructors

10/10 Adult students & instructors

Houston Christian Academy custom course students & instructors

All of our Summer Support Staff

Gluten Free in the Backcountry

July 5th, 2018

By: Laura Albert

Food allergies are off the charts these days! It’s incredible how many people’s bodies are rejecting the basic essentials of foods that use to be staples in a backcountry kitchen. Things like peanut butter, GORP (Good Old Raisins & Peanuts), snack mixes, granola bars, powdered milk, pasta, and so on are having to be manipulated to accommodate people’s food allergies. But nothing has been harder to accomplish than gluten free.

Gluten is a family of proteins that are found in wheat, rye, barley, and spelt. Most people can handle gluten just fine. But there is a growing population of people whose bodies either cannot process these proteins or are just plain allergic to them. Being “Celiac” has a variety of levels and symptoms, but it all revolves around an inability for the body to process the proteins found in these specific grains.

But what does that mean for backcountry cooking? It means that baking mixes, pastas, and a great many pre-made freeze dried meals are unavailable for those who are Celiac. Because not only do the main ingredients have wheat products in them, but also so does the filler or the spices within those meals have some kind of gluten product in them.

So it is just to be beans and rice then for meals? I soooo reject that! I love cooking! And cooking in the backcountry already provides such a great challenge for me that adding gluten free deliciousness is just an added bonus!

See, I love food. No, I mean I LOVE good food! I’m seriously of the “camp” that if I’m not eating it in the frontcountry, there’s no reason to eat it in the backcountry. So here are a few ideas and tips to eat gluten free and gourmet in the backcountry.



1) Meal Plan

For the same reason that you plan your route in the backcountry, you also want to plan your meals. This will help with saving money, but also saving time while trying to cook your meals. Planning and measuring the correct amount for the time you are in the backcountry, and number of people will save you time, save you weight in your pack, and also help you avoid cross contamination. For help on how to plan ahead and prepare, check out the links below.



2) Use Certified Gluten Free Products


There are many Gluten Free options out there, but in my experience not everything that claims to be “gluten free” should be considered equal. Here are a couple of my favorite brands and what I use them for:


Baking Mixes

Better Batter is a company I love to use! Not just for the superior baking mixes, but also what they are about. Their batters are allergen free including some of the more rare food allergies that are out there. So it is really ideal for a bunch of food allergies in your group including lactose and celiac. I use their All Purpose Flour Mix, Pancake & Biscuit Mix, and their Fudge Brownie Mix for backcountry cooking.

Gluten Free Lava Cake


I use the All Purpose Flour Mix for making pizza dough, gnocchi pasta, alfredo sauce, and dumplings in soup. And the pancake mix for biscuits, pancakes, muffins & scones. One thing I do recommend to add to all of these mixes for backcountry use is powdered egg. Really makes them fluffier and respond like a dough with gluten still in it. *If you have someone with an egg allergy, milled flax hydrated works, although not as well.*

Thai Kitchen/Simply Asia has noodle packs that are like ramen noodles, only gluten free and in fun flavors like lemongrass, garlic & vegetable, ginger, and others. It’s a great alternative that’s quick and easy like ramen. There are also rice noodle ramen packs that are a bit more expensive, but still really good by Lotus Foods.



When looking at G-Free pasta, not all pasta is created equal. There are some that are easy enough to enjoy in the front country, but when using them in the backcountry, it is a hot mess! There are lots of great brands out there, but I have found that unless you are making a dish that purposefully uses rice noodles, stay away from them for Italian style meals. The noodles end up being slimey from the starch residue and it is not fun to clean up that gray water.

Try to stick with a quinoa noodle or something that isn’t a rice noodle like Ancient Harvest brand. It will provide your body with energy that lasts longer and is a lot friendlier to the taste buds to clean up. Again, be sure to check labels that the product is in fact manufactured in an allergen free environment!



Getting enough protein in the backcountry can be tricky. Most people use products like falafel, tvp, and similar items. Falafel, while a yummy greek variety to meals, is full of wheat! So that’s out. TVP (textured vegetable protein) can also be a good option, but again I would urge extreme caution for the gluten free cook. Wheat can be included in some brands. So what can I use then? Well, Soy Curls work really well for additional protein and getting your muscles some good stuff. They are gluten free and work well in a variety of contexts. Pro Tip: Just be sure to hydrate them enough.



Your spice kit will make or break you. Spice mixes, while they seem easy and a great option, often use wheat as a filler. So it can be a bad time if you find that out the hard way! Be sure to really research your spices or even go so far as to make your own mixes! It’s not too hard and well worth any effort you put into it. And be sure to use Gluten Free Tamari sauce instead of soy sauce.

Labeling Spice Bottles can be tedious, but well worth it.


3) Don’t Be Afraid to Be Creative

Sometimes, there just isn’t a granola bar, snack, meal mix, spices or whatever that will suit your needs. This is where the old adage “Necessity is indeed the mother of invention” comes into play. Because honestly, most of my best success were really due to thinking outside the box using the resources I had at my fingertips at that moment. That’s how I made gluten free gnocchi pasta – potato/flour pasta that look like little dumplings and are so yummy!


Gluten Free Gnocchi and sauce from scratch.


Making gourmet gluten free food in the backcountry doesn’t have to be an epic saga of woes. It can be fun, inspiring, and empowering! But taking the time to look at the ingredients you have and putting together an idea is well worth the effort and bit of time it takes to get it all set up. Your stomach may be yelling at you to get on with it, but trust me. Your taste buds and your expedition team will be singing hallelujahs the whole time you are eating!


He Healed Me: A Mountaintop Experience

June 28th, 2018

This week, we are featuring one of our 2017 Alumni: Holly Lowmiller.

Holly came on a 10 day climbing and backpacking trip with us last summer with her mom. Holly is an amazing woman of God with a lot of love and a lot of spunk! Wife to one, mama to six.  A lover of tacos, rainbows and massive amounts of coffee.  Her favorite place to be is in nature.  She really digs naps and cuddling with her people.  Her family was knit together by birth and by adoption. On her 10 day expedition into the Wilderness, God met her in some incredible ways that only her words, and her testimony can reveal! With Holly’s permission, we are sharing her story with you all as an encouragement that God is real, He is who He says He is, and He moves mightily in the lives of His children. Enjoy!

He Healed Me: A Mountaintop Experience by Holly Lowmiller

During the early summer of 2017, God was persistent in His invitation for me to get away with Him. I was not exactly sure where it was He wanted me to go. I was certain it was away from the noise and chaos of my daily life. Away from my responsibilities and away from the distractions of the world. I knew He wanted to speak to my quieted heart so He could begin the process of setting me free. I let my amazing Mama know about these conversations I was having with God and this desire He had ignited. That is when she suggested we research the possibility of a wilderness expedition with SROM. I was thrilled she would consider being my companion on this journey. Not only is she my mother and my dear friend but she is also a wise spiritual adviser. It did not take any convincing at all. Nature is my sanctuary, it is where the veil between Yahweh and my soul seems the thinnest. We booked our trip and set out for 10 days in the deep backcountry of Wyoming/Colorado in late July.

The first three days of our adventure were spent rock climbing in Vedauwoo. We quickly fell in love and bonded deeply with the other people in our group. The days were physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually satisfying. The evening before we were going to transition to Rocky Mountain National Park, our guides Jess and Keith asked Mom and I to sit down and have a heart to heart with them. My 63 year old mama is all kinds of amazing. She is spunky, sassy and FULL of energy.

Jess and Keith had noticed all these things about her AND had a great appreciation for her spiritual maturity and insight that she graciously shares. They had also noticed her shortness of breath during some of our treks. The altitude coupled with her asthma was affecting her more than any of us wanted to admit. But, we needed to consider what the next 7 days would entail. We would be increasing in elevation daily once we made it to RMNP and once we were on the mountain, the only way off the mountain was self-evacuation in most places where we would be hiking. The four of us took some time to pray about what should happen. It was unanimously decided Mom should not continue on to Colorado but instead stay in Wyoming and wait for us to return.


After the decision was made, I found a cleft in a rock, climbed inside and threw a fit. I cried and shouted at God. I then promptly stomped to our “kitchen” where everyone was lighting their cook stoves and prepping for dinner. I huffed and pouted as I chopped the onions and peppers for our meal. I then announced to Mama in what must have sounded much like the drama I brought to the table when I was a teen, that I refused to go up the mountain without her. I went on to say I was tired, I wanted a hamburger, a chocolate bar, coffee that did not taste like dirt and a pedicure. I concocted a most excellent plan for the two of us to spend a week in a hotel eating, sleeping and being pampered.

As only my mother can, she calmly validated my feelings but went on to say “I believe that God wants you on that mountain. I believe He has something very precious He wants to share with you. I also believe He is kind and He will reveal it in another way at another time if you do not go up the mountain. I will support you in whatever decision you make.” I let the battle continue in my head until the thoughts of a soft bed, hot shower and tacos took over. I then stood up and walked over to our guide Jess and let her know I would be leaving with Mom in the morning. She put her journal and pen down, looked directly into my eyes, smirked and then laughed in my face. She then pulled a piece of paper from her journal and handed it to me saying, “I thought God had me sitting here writing this for your mom, but now I know clearly it is for you.” It was a poem that she had literally just finished as I walked up to speak with her. I looked down and read these words…

She will rise
She will fly
Though her struggles
are lofty and high
Leave her by my side
I will carry her day and night
Teaching her
My way, My truth, My light
Upon My mountain
She will stand
Upon my mountain
I will be found

-Jessica Roberts-

I looked up at Jess and burst into laughter and tears at the very same moment. I then turned to my mama and handed her the poem. After she read it I shrugged and with a big grin said “I guess He really wants me on that mountain.”

The next morning we dropped mom off at a gas station with a SROM guide who met us there. I climbed into the back of the van with tears stinging my eyes. Jess tossed a chocolate bar at me and smiled. We drove a few hours to get to RMNP, during the ride I spent time talking with God and asked Him to please set me free from the lies I have been a slave to for so very long and to begin mending my shattered heart. When we arrived, we had to stop in town and get bear canisters to place all our food inside. After we repacked everything to fit into our packs, they weighed about 60-65 pounds, that meant I would be carrying more than half my body weight up a mountain.

All was well for the first hour, we were increasing in elevation with every step, we were talking and laughing, everyone was lighthearted and filled with excitement. As we continued into the second hour, the pain came on and it was intense. After five pregnancies and four live births to four BIG boys, my pelvis is pretty marred. The throbbing ache I felt each time I took a step had me wincing. When we finally stopped for a water and blister check break, I told Jess how I was feeling. I let her know that giving birth un-medicated at home was FAR more pleasant than what I was currently experiencing. I then told her I was planning to turn around, walk back down the mountain and call Bunny (my mama) to come pick me up. I had it all worked out so I would not inconvenience anyone.

She told me nope that was not happening. I argued “Fine, I will keep going today but tonight, I will sneak out of my tent and walk back down in the dark. I might be eaten by a bear but that will feel better than this.” She rolled her eyes and told me to take my pack off. She then took her pack off. This was the moment that this badass chic, (the only chic according to Bunny that has ever been able to meet my sass with greater sass) became Jesus in the flesh for me. She took out the heaviest items in my pack and traded them for the lightest items in her pack. She was literally willing to carry my burden. We trekked on for another hour or so, during that time the pain lingered but I could keep hiking. At the next break, we set up our camp chairs, took out our snacks, tossed our boots aside and stuck our feet in the cold stream. After our bellies were filled and our feet refreshed, we continued on. About half an hour later my friend Jamie realized she had left her chair by the stream. Jess offered to jog back and get it so we could continue making forward progress.

It was not long before the pain became unbearable once again. I had tears rolling quietly down my face. I knew there was absolutely no possibility I could continue on in this pain for 7 more days. I told myself that when we stopped for our next break, I was going to ask the group to pray for me. That is when the Spirit whispered “No, you are going to pray for yourself right now.” I quipped back “But, I don’t do that.” My apostasy was met with magnanimous laughter and the words, “Well, you do now.” The physical torment was so fierce that I relented but all I could muster was, “Heal me.”

It started as a trusting chant inside my heart. Then it blossomed to a melodious whisper, “Heal me.” Then it exited my mouth like a crashing wave aware of its power and strength. “HEAL ME!” After a few repetitions of this bold roar, my hips began to tingle. I kept on with my desperate call to God and after a few more steps, the pain was completely absent from my body. I felt as if I could soar, as if I was a bird who took flight for the very first time. I was so overcome with love, thankfulness, joy and wonder. I began crying and saying “Thank you, thank you, thank you.” I repeated this over and over until I caught up with the rest of the group.

They were sitting on the side of the trail and when they saw me with tears falling down my face, they jumped up to check on me. Keith questioned “Oh no, is it that bad?” I euphorically shouted, “No,It is that GOOD!” I then threw my pack off, tossed my trekking poles and laid face down in the dirt crying out over and over, “Thank you God, you are so kind to me.”

When I finally got up out of the dirt, we all gathered around to pray. That is when Jess caught up and we excitedly told her what had just happened. We were all on a spiritual high at that point. Jamie invited me to sit on a fallen tree with her so she could pray over me. When we finished our prayer time together, she said “God just told me that was your physical healing and your emotional healing is coming.” I teared up again because that is exactly what He had just put on my heart as well.

I was not certain if the pain would remain gone the rest of the time in the backcountry but I knew no matter what, God would carry me up the mountain. I suffered no more physical pain for the entirety of the hike. The pain never returned once I came back home either, none of the activities that would normally exacerbate it caused it to return. He healed me. And He has begun a gentle work on my interior castle. He is making all things new. His love is so intense. We are His beloved. May my heart always trust in His love as He restores my soul.

What’s Killing You?

June 21st, 2018

By: Daria Holler

Being in the great outdoors can bring healing on many different levels. It can bring mental healing, spiritual healing and even physical healing to some degrees. Whether it is sitting on the porch, going for a walk, a vigorous hike, multi day backpacking or ascending to a very high peak. All of these outdoor activities can bring a sense of healing to you.

However, there are many instances in which the outdoors can hinder or hurt you if you do not plan accordingly and prepare yourself for the elements of these wild places. Regardless of activity you should always plan ahead and prepare. Perhaps not as intensively for sitting on the porch but to think ahead creates less work and possible complications later. Whether it is on the trip or years down the road in life. Caring and planning for yourself, self care is one of the most important things you can possible do.

So what is it we are getting at? Protect yourself!

What’s Killing you?

Any season of the year can kill you in some way it’s just a matter of time and exposure. Too hot with not enough water, skin protection or food to sustain you as your body is in motion.

Sun, heat, Cold, snow, wind, lack of layers, lack of food, lack of water, lack of proper foot protection.

How can you best plan for your next outing?

Be sure to pack your 3 essentials: Water, Rain gear, Sunscreen

You will always need water, you will never be able to full predict the elements you will be entering into and the weather it may bring. When planning for a day or a 14 day journey you should always plan ahead and prepare. This is deemed principle number 1 in Leave No Trace. More importantly if you don’t plan ahead and prepare for what could or WILL happen, the intentionality of self care is neglected.

Many have stepped out into the sunshine after a long winter or time in doors. The sunshine feels so great! Getting that Vitamin D that your body has been craving like it’s your job! Maybe you fall asleep or you push yourself harder because you feel good. You return home or simply come back inside and you realize you have a headache, you feel weak or your skin hurts to the touch.


Dehydration and exposure can deplete your body over time. Especially if you are on a multi-day hike or camping. The over exposure that first day or first couple of days while your body is adapting to trail life can cause your body to work harder than it would need to if you put on sunscreen and kept a conscious eye on your fluid intake to be sure all that your sweating or exercising out, you are replacing at the same time.

Some common overlooks:

Re-applying sunscreen often

Changing out of your sweaty layer after a hard day on the trail

Preemptively putting on additional layers when temperature begins to drop.

Wearing TOO many layers while sleeping (this causes prevention of body heat warming your sleeping bag)

Intentionally drinking water while moving or during short breaks.

Calorie intake

Tending to blisters (instead of grinding it out)


On many occasions in extreme hot environments, it is easy to forget self care in this way because you are concentrating on getting through the elevation gain, loss or simply working hard to get to your destination. The same goes for extreme cold conditions. If you aren’t being conscious and listening to what your body needs it can put you and possibly others on your team in danger of exposure or possibly falling behind on itinerary.


When you Plan ahead and take care of yourself, the overall experience and impact of the journey you’re on is all the more spiritually, mentally and even physically healing. Be kind to yourself.


If you’re interested to see in more detail what extreme conditions and poor planning consequences can bring. Check out the American Alpine Club (AAC) for some accident reports that include what happened and what caused said incidents.

Jesus Satisfies

June 14th, 2018

By: Emily Cable

“Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. 2 Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. 3 For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. 4 When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.” Colossians 3:1-4


It was another blue sky morning in Montana. The summer air was calm and cool. My back was warmed by the sun as I sat and gazed up at the mountain range before me. The distant peaks had demanded my attention ever since I arrived a few days prior. I appreciated the mountain; its sheer size and otherly beauty placed awe in my heart, the allure of adventure a summit attempt promised, the sense of accomplishment I presumably would feel standing at the top!

All these were placed before me, yet were just out of reach. My schedule did not include a summit bid that day or even during my whole visit. I desired, but could not obtain.


As my gaze drifted from the snowcapped peak, somewhat disappointed, a glistening water droplet caught my eye. Not more than two feet in front of me was a delicate yellow wildflower covered in little dew droplets acting as perfect reflectors for the morning sun. I paused. How had this beauty escaped my notice?


Then my eyes were opened to my surroundings! Each blade of grass surrounding me was glistening, every flower pedal glowed. I was sitting in a meadow of “diamonds”! Again I asked myself, “How did you miss this?!”

The answer…I had fixed my eyes on what was distant without even taking a moment to notice what was close. How frequently I do the same thing in life!


If I lock my attention and focus on future events or things that I don’t possess, throwing all my effort toward them, I end up blowing past the simple pleasures that lay right before me. I can lie to myself thinking, “‘If I could just have a good friend…’ or ‘When I’m married…’ or ‘Once I get that job…’ or ‘I’ll shake off all responsibility and just travel the world…’ then I’ll be happy, free, and satisfied.”


I have a fixation on obtaining satisfaction. I want what I want.


I desire, but cannot obtain. Why? Because I am looking in the wrong place.  C.S. Lewis, in his book Mere Christianity, observes, “Most people, if they had really learned to look into their own hearts, would know that they do want, and want acutely, something that cannot be had in this world. There are all sorts of things in this world that offer to give it to you, but they never quite keep their promise.1 While I’m preoccupied with gratifying my fleshly desires (friends, sports, chocolate, adventures, etc.) my Heavenly Father is holding out true freedom, grace, goodness, satisfaction, and love. Far too often I choose to go my way, sin, which leads to death, instead of the way of life.

What is right in front of me, with me? As a Christian it is Jesus! “Fear not, for I am with you(Is.41:10) YES, Jesus is with me! “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me.” (Gal. 2:20a)  Jesus is in me! I need not look to any other, I need not long for anything greater.


My heart’s desire will not be satisfied outside of Jesus. “For He satisfies the longing soul, and the hungry soul He fills with good things.” (Ps. 107:9) “Jesus said to them, ‘I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst.’” (John 6:35)


Now, consider for a moment what Paul says in Colossians, “set your mind on things above, and not on earthly things.(Col.3:2) Are we to simply long for heaven and wait until the day we arrive? You’ve heard the saying, “So heavenly minded that you’re of no earthly good.” Well, I’m confident that the truth of the matter is just the opposite! If I am living in light of Heaven the true needs of this present world will become all the more real to me because my desire will be to see those around me saved and to glorify God with my life. I could be so heavenly minded that I am of greatest earthly good! To quote Lewis again, “If you read history you will find that the Christians who did most for the present world were just those who thought most of the next.1 And truly what is best for this present world? To be free from slavery to sin and made spiritually alive in Christ!

So to turn my opening analogy in its head, by fixing my gaze on the future reality of heaven God reveals the true beauty that is right in front of me today. It is about focus rightly placed, a heart that is so in love with Jesus that it can’t help but overflow that love to others in deep sacrificial ways. Because that’s what Jesus did for me! “And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself up for me.” (Gal. 2:20b) I have the greatest gift of Jesus and because of that I can recognize and appreciate all the good gifts my Heavenly Father gives me each and every day!


Oh Father, may I delight myself in You! Forgive me for the idols I have run to seeking satisfaction, I repent. Thank you for Your forgiveness, grace, and love. Thank you for the free salvation you have given me in Jesus Christ! Help me to gaze upon the beauty of Christ that I may serve you wholeheartedly in this life!


“You make known to me the path of life; in Your presence there is fullness of joy; at Your right hand are pleasures forevermore.” (Psalm 16:11)

1 C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity (San Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco, Harper edition, 2001), pp. 134-135.

The Fedora: Ultimate Adventure Hat

June 7th, 2018

By: Laura Albert

Ok, so I’m going to be real here. I’m red-haired, freckled, and fair skinned. But I love being outside! And honestly when you are battling the sun above and snow underfoot, the task of not being fried like a chicken in Kentucky can be quite daunting. I mean, finding the perfect hat that covers all your bases in the wilderness can be tricky! But I have found a solution that not only works for me, but helps me uphold SROM’s treasured rule number 1: Look Good.

May I present…. The Fedora!

I know the fedora has been used by boaters and posers alike in the world at large. It is particularly used often in the European markets of fashion. But while I do enjoy a good fashion statement, let me here and now defend why the fedora makes the perfect adventure hat.


Protection from the Sun

The Fedora style hat is perfect for backpacking and protecting your face and head from long hours of UV rays. The brim goes all the way around and covers your ears. Baseball caps won’t protect your ears or provide as a comprehensive coverage to protect your nose and chin from the sun’s wrath.




Unlike most wide brimmed hats, the Fedora is flipped up in the back creating a comfortable hat wearing experience while wearing a multi day expedition size backpack. No more will you have to strain your neck forward or do this awkward neck move to adjust where the brim sits in relation to your backpack. And, you don’t have to look down all the time to create that room either. You can keep your head up, and hike along with confidence down the trail knowing your skin is protected and your hat will not create discomfort.

Fedoras will fit over many base layer hoods, but will also fit under many hoods of technical rain gear. This helps provide some stability to the hood, as well as breathing room around your neck so in a deluge, your hood doesn’t stick to the back of your neck.


Sustainably Made

There are many styles of Fedoras out there from felted wool to straw. Many are made with natural materials and they are lightweight. In an age when plastics are a major problem to our local and global ecosystems, having a product that is made with natural fibers and materials is a big deal!


Dapper Style

You have to admit, 10 days into an adventure, you are looking a little rough around the edges. Even after sweating, freezing, and damp weather, you are still going to look like the “bees knees” in your fedora trucking along down the trail! I once had someone ask me how long I’d been out on the trail. And when I told them 14 days, they were astonished at how perfectly un-hobo like I looked. While I’ll grant you, I do laundry on the trail, but nothing can beat that dapper I-just-stepped-out-of-the-car look like a Fedora.


Where they are lacking….


Now I do admit, I’m biased when it comes to my Fedora. But there are some places where they are lacking.



They aren’t adjustable. Most fedoras are made either to size or a “one size fits most”. Which, if you have a larger head like mine, can be tricky to find one that works. I’d say spend the money, time, and the energy finding one that has multiple sizes and go from there.


Not Helmet Compatible

If you are looking for a hat to wear under a bike or climbing helmet, these won’t work. They work well being worn alone or under a jacket hood and that’s about it.


Back of Neck Exposed

While my fedora does an incredible job of protecting a lot of my skin, a lot of times the back of your neck is still exposed with most styles. Especially if you are just day hiking and not doing a full on multi day trip. You have to make special arrangements to either lather up the sunscreen or slip a bandanna under it to cover up. There are styles that flip down too that help, but your standard ones don’t always give that option. Only the more “high end” fedoras will.

All in all though, my fedora hasn’t led me wrong. I have worn it on kayak trips, hiking trips, and it has pulled through so many times in so many different environments that I just can’t go with another style to take with me on all my adventures! So whether your adventure hat is something else or a fedora, make it your own and be sure to get out make your own epic memories while wearing it!


Or if you’re thinking about finding a good fedora for your next adventure, here are a couple links of places that have some awesome ones. Happy adventuring and happy hat hunting!


Wylder Goods: Female focused outdoor goods page and sustainably sourced products and companies. Wool fedoras.



Outdoor Research: Lifetime warranty on all products, lightweight straw fedora



Stetson: Higher end hats, quality made in the USA. Wool, felted fur, hemp, and straw fedoras sustainably sourced.

How do you enjoy the Backcountry?

May 31st, 2018

By: Daria Holler

How do you enjoy the backcountry? Here are 3 tips to help you fully encompass all the wild around you.


Lots of people enjoy the backcountry in many different ways. Some may enjoy simply getting off the grid for a few days. Some head in with a mission of going fast and light. Others may take in 3 horses worth of gear. Whether you’re spending the night or staying for the long haul it is always wise to practice Leave No Trace Principles!

1 Plan ahead and prepare your journey ahead of time.

2 Travel and Camp on Durable surfaces. Just because it’s majestic doesn’t mean you should intrude on the majesticness of it.

3 Dispose of waste properly This is a big deal. DO NOT do the D.S.D. (Dreaded Surface Dump) There are many awesome and easy ways to dispose of your personal waste PROPERLY. Plus it’s biblical Deuteronomy 23:13

4 Leave what you find. Don’t be THAT person. Who hoards every walking stick and insists on collecting every pretty rock seen. Others want to see pretty rocks too!

5 Minimize campfire impacts Campfires are fun and set ambiance. Stars set a pretty awesome ambiance too! If you DO have a fire be sure it’s safe to do so. Please don’t make a new fire ring if one already exists.

6 Respect wildlife Plain and simple. DO NOT TOUCH. Don’t feed or heckle. Technically you’re guests in their home… Respect.

7 Be considerate of others. Remember to love those you come across. Clearly you have something in common if you’re in the backcountry and run into each other.


Have fun out there in a way that others will be able to enjoy after you have returned for years to come! Are you getting stoked on planning your next trek? Are you hungry?


2.Take time to plan out and prepare your food Rations

Many hold a passion and pallet for backcountry gourmet eating. None of this hot water in a bag of ingredients survival shenanigans! No, we’re talking about food that sustains the body and soul! Many especially love to camp and fish. It helps with pack weight and is a very relaxing pastime. Give it a try!

Backcountry Pizza


Trout Tacos (fresh!)

Cinnamon rolls (but seriously, who wouldn’t want these!)

Impatient and Hangry? Try this book Back Country Cooking: From Pack to Plate in 10 Minutes


3.Celebrate: Enjoy where you are!

Whether it’s your first time in the backcountry or you are a seasoned veteran, remember why you came! Celebrate those you are with (if you’re with anyone) and take time to let the rejuvenation of these wild places restore your, perhaps, tired soul! Many Biblical figures spent time in creation and the wild places. In those places they were met by God! The wilderness is one of the most intimate places you can go to be with the Lord and allow him to do His work in you.


Developing a God-like Lense

May 24th, 2018

By: Tim Grunstra

“Do not be conformed to this world,

But be transformed by the renewal of your mind,

That by testing you may discern what is the will of God,

What is good and acceptable and perfect.”

Romans 12:2


Do you think being a follower of Christ is demanding? Do you find it difficult to know how to present yourself and what you believe to others? Do you even know what you believe? These are just a few of the various questions many of us struggle with in our day to day lives. Questions like these can make us feel isolated, even shunned, giving us feelings of shame, guilt and disappointment that we are just not enough. I have done all these things and I am guessing that most, if not all, of you have as well. However, there is good news. Yes! The Gospel! I have a few tips that I have found to be very straight forward, but have profoundly changed the way I see and perceive the people around me, because they change the way I see myself and my identity.



“I have been crucified with Christ.

It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me.

And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God,

Who loved me and gave himself for me.”

Galatians 2:20



 When God looks at us He sees one of two things. He sees His Son, Jesus, or He sees a lost child who has not found his family. We have a choice freely given to us by God. Will I make Christ King of my heart? Every human was, is, and will be, created in God’s image. He knits us together in our mother’s womb. Not only does He know every hair on our heads, but every physical thing about you and everyone who has lived and will live in the future. He knows our thoughts and motives. And even after all that, Jesus chooses us and gave His life for us!


“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation.

The old has gone, the new has come.”

2 Cor. 5:17



How do you look at the people around you? How do you view yourself? Are you seeing the beloved, joint heir of Jesus? Because, if you have accepted Christ as your Savior, you are a new creation, you have been made new and now you are a “little Christ,” or Christian. If you are a “little Christ” you are also a “little king,” because Christ means king. Jesus is the King of kings and Lord of lords, that means you are a “little king” and “little lord” right along with Jesus Christ. This has been accomplished through Him and this is your new identity!

“Now if we are children, then we are heirs- heirs of God

and co-heirs with Christ. If indeed we share in His sufferings

in order that we may also share with His glory.”

Romans 8:17



If you are to share in Christ glory, you only have to believe. You are worth it! You have value! If the worth of a thing is what someone is willing to pay for it, then you are equal in worth to Jesus! Do you understand that God the Father, the Creator of heaven and earth, sees Jesus in you? God the Father sees you as His Son, Jesus. Jesus lives in you and Jesus loves you and has paid for you. You need to understand that every time you see yourself as something less than Jesus, you are reducing the worth you have. You are stealing that which Jesus paid with His life… you! You are stealing yourself from Him. He alone had the ability, and therefore the right, to pay for your sins, and my sins, on the cross.


As we realize the depth of love Christ has for us, it will awaken our love for ourselves and live out of our identity as sons and daughters in the Kingdom. When we see how much He loves us we are then able to love others as He loves them. Then we no longer can treat ourselves, or others, negatively. He wants a relationship with us, but not at the cost of binding us to His will, but just as he freely gives us salvation we now have the chance to freely give Him our hearts and pursue a relationship. This is not a law we have to keep, but a passion we get to pursue!

If you want to learn more about how God see you, here are some short videos that are good resources by Graham Cooke:

El Shaddai: God Almighty

May 17th, 2018

By: Josh Horak

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God. – Ephesians 2:8

The gospel of grace reveals to us the Father and gives us the power to live by faith. As it states in Romans: “This gospel unveils continual revelation of God’s righteousness…and it moves us from receiving life through faith, to the power of living by faith” Romans 1:17 (The Passion Translation)

Ephesians 2:8 states: “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God.” As we have been on this journey of discovering the Father’s heart pertaining to radical grace, the Lord has been speaking to me regarding faith as the vehicle to access His grace.  Allow me to share a story from my personal life as an illustration of this powerful reality.

My wife Amy was half way into her third pregnancy. We knew the Lord spoke to us to have a third child; yet we still had some low-grade anxiety about the pregnancy due to our experience with our second daughter Adalyn.  Adalyn arrived two months early and spent her first month in a level 4 NICU in Denver. Even after her release, she was on oxygen at home for several months and for her first year required breathing treatments with a nebulizer 6 times a day for a half hour each time.  As a result, with our third pregnancy doctors advised us to take expensive medications and have a C-Section to help reduce the chances of another preterm delivery.

Amy and I value the counsel of medical professionals, however, we didn’t feel a peace in our spirits so we sought the Lord for wisdom. While Visiting Bethel Church, we received a prophetic word stating: “this pregnancy will not be defined by previous pregnancies” and felt a peace knowing the Lord was in control.  A few days after receiving this word, the Lord woke me up at 4:30 am and directed me to Psalm 91. Psalm 91:1 in the Passion Translation reads, “When you sit enthroned under the shadow of Shaddai, you are hidden in the strength of God Most High.” The word enthroned is the Hebrew word yashab, which is often associated with one seated as royalty.


Shaddai is taken from the Hebrew root word for God Almighty. Shaddai can mean “God of the Mountain, God the Destroyer of Enemies, God the Self-Sufficient One, God the Nurturer of Babies, God the Almighty.”   Through this passage, the Father spoke to me that I am a “royal son,” I am literally seated with Jesus next to the Father in heavenly places (Ephesians 2:6). Royal sons enthroned with Christ know God as Shaddai. As the Holy Spirit was speaking to me a feather literally fell in my lap. This was a confirmation that Shaddai was overshadowing me!

As I searched the scriptures for more references on experiencing Father as Shaddai, I noticed a trend—many times when the Father would bring His sons and daughters into new territory, He would reveal himself as Shaddai to equip and resource them for their journey. Why? Because the journey is full of mountains to overcome, enemies that are out to destroy, and obstacles that will prevent them from reaching their destination. The journey literally is impossible. This is why the Father gives you himself as Shaddai–the impossible now becomes possible and failure is not an option.  

After Amy and I received this revelation of God as Shaddai, we had a weapon of faith to contend for the promise that “this pregnancy will not defined by previous pregnancies.” When I say we had to contend, I mean we really had to contend. Seeing the fruition of the word come to pass was a fight! Three different times we ended up in the emergency room with nurses and doctors trying to stop a preterm labor. There were moments of great fear and discouragement, thinking we were inevitably headed toward a premature birth again.

In these times, we would dig deep, rehearse God as “Our Shaddai” and declare, decree, and war against the preterm labor. Over and over we forcefully declared the truth of Shaddai’s nature and character over our situation. “You are Shaddai, the nurturer of babies and this baby will come full-term! You are Shaddai, the God of this mountain. You are Shaddai, the destroyer of enemies–you destroyed the enemy of sickness, disease and premature birth! We command premature birth to be halted in the mighty name of Jesus! You are Shaddai, the self-sufficient one–you meet all our needs and make a way where this is no way right now in this moment.” I am ecstatic to testify that we made it to full-term by one day! He really is Shaddai, our Almighty One!


I share this story as a picture of how faith acts as the vehicle that will drive you to grace. Like a vehicle that takes us from where we actually are to where we want to be, so faith takes us into God’s grace.  It took many moments of exercising faith to see our pregnancy come full-term. There were moments during the pregnancy that shouted to us “a premature baby is inevitable.” Yet, we stood in faith by enforcing the two “faith vehicles” he gave us–the rhema word that “this pregnancy will not be defined by previous pregnancies” and the written word that He is our Shaddai, nurturer of babies. Many Christians give up on God’s best because they lack faith.


It is time to put Shaddai in the driver’s seat of your faith. Let His nature rise up faith in you to contend for God’s best!  As it states in Romans: “This gospel unveils continual revelation of God’s righteousness…and it moves us from receiving life through faith, to the power of living by faith” 1:17 (The Passion). The Father is excited to give you faith so you can access His great grace! He is longing to reveal to you Himself as; all sons and daughters enthroned with Him are destined to know Him in this way.


Gear Review for Mountaineering – Crampons

May 10th, 2018

By: Jacob Chmielowiec

Mountaineering is best learned under the guidance of a good mentor who can pass on their experience and knowledge. This guidance can greatly reduce the risks while learning essential skills but also help the novice acquire the correct equipment. Those lacking a mentor are often confused about which crampons they should purchase.

Crampons for general mountaineering have a few basic characteristics:

  1. They are made of steel. Aluminum crampons will not long withstand the abuse of mountaineering and do not work well on ice.
  2. They have two flat front points. The vertical front points used on some crampons are specialized for climbing ice and have compromised performance on snow. Flat front points are cut from the same piece of steel as the body of the crampon while vertical front points are sometimes replaceable. The width of flat from points gives them more surface area giving more security on snow. Mono points, crampons with a single front point, also have poor performance in snow and should be avoided for general mountaineering.
  3. They have built in Anti-Bot plates. These make the crampons much less likely to hold snow underfoot, improving the safety and performance. When a crampon becomes packed with snow it is no longer able to grip properly and this can lead to falls and/or injury.
  4. They must work with your boots. In a recent post [make this a link to the post] about boots we learned B1-B3 boots are suitable for mountaineering. Conveniently there is a similar nomenclature for crampons.
    • C1 crampons are compatible with all boots that are stiff enough for mountaineering, B1 and up. These are attached by a simple strap system and are suitable for most mountaineering.
    • C2 crampons are compatible with B2 & B3 boots only as they require a special heel crampon attachment. These crampons tend to be more aggressive and more capable as the terrain approaches vertical.
    • C3 crampons require a B3 boot and SROM generally does not recommend B3 boots for our courses. However, for ice  and mixed climbing, or highly technical mountaineering routes, these will provide the best performance. Many people who own C3 crampons will also own a lighter pair for general mountaineering unless they are predominantly ice climbers, not mountaineers.



Following the guidelines above will lead you to a solid pair of mountaineering crampons. I personally prefer the Black Diamond Sabertooth. I have two pairs, one with B2 attachments for most of my mountaineering and another with a C3 attachment for ice climbing and more technical mountaineering. These are a little heavier than some other good crampons, and require a B2 boot, but the performance is great.


Thank you for reading. If you are new to mountaineering be sure to find a good mentor or consider taking classes or go on a SROM Course to gain proficiency. You will encounter many hazards in the mountains that must be properly managed to mitigate risk and an inexperienced mountaineer will be unable to assess many of these hazards. Stay safe and have fun out there.