“The mountains are calling, and I must go.” This quote from John Muir captured my thoughts as I prepared for a week-long expedition with Wilderness Outreach to the Domeland Wilderness of California. I was seeking to delve deeper into the soul of masculine spirituality through worship and work in the desert; the wilderness would not disappoint me.
Our crew was composed of six laymen, a priest, and a cook. Our mission in the wilderness was to clear a few miles of trail that had been obstructed by overgrown thorn and fallen trees. To accomplish our goal we would use crosscut saws, pulaskis, loppers, hand saws and axes. No chain saws would be used, for this work was to be done by the sweat of our brows.
Besides trail clearing, our aim was to engage the intellectual and spiritual components of each man through daily Mass, Liturgy of the Hours, and nightly discussion on leadership and the theology of the masculine body.
Life in the wilderness can be a double-edged sword. The splendor and power of God is on display everywhere you gaze, from the gigantic rock faces atop some of the mountains to the brilliance of the glowing stars in the nighttime sky. However, this beauty can only be experienced by those willing to sacrifice modern comforts while camping in the wilderness.
Cell phones and electronics were put away, as there was no reception in that remote area. Water had to be drawn from the nearby creek and then purified drop by drop for consumption. A latrine had to be dug outside of a camp for sanitary reasons. Showers would consist of washing in the nearby creek. Voluntarily giving up so many conveniences may seem like a burden to many, but not to the men on this trip who knew the value of sacrifice. These sacrifices helped us truly