I’ve learned in hindsight how God’s spirit (or however you characterize it) has worked, even at an early age, to enable me to appreciate the wonders of God’s world and to prepare me to answer the spirit’s call.

It started early with my parents’ appreciation of the outdoors and trips to the mountains. When I was young we took day-long car trips and occasionally camped in Sequoia National Park. Then for a year and a half I lived in a group setting on a small ranch in the forests and hills of Northwestern California. We waded and swam in the large creek. We hiked among firs and redwoods and enjoyed the view across Anderson Valley to wooded hills beyond.

Our family home beginning in the sixth grade was in Exeter, a small agricultural town at the western base of the southern Sierra. As I described in my previous post [linked], on clear days I had a broad view of these mountains. Here they rise up much more quickly than farther north, to the twelve and thirteen thousand foot ridges of the Great Western Divide and the Kaweah Peaks between the southward flowing Kern River and the main crest.

Now, in full view of these mountains, I learned more about them and my fascination with them and their high peaks grew.

Entering the sixth grade I joined the Boy Scouts and began my training in camping, emergency response and first aid. I attended Scout Camp Mirimichi for two ten-day summers on Huntington Lake, at 7,000 feet elevation northeast of Fresno. Beginning the summer before my Freshman year in high school I joined the camp staff.

Across the lake to the North, Kaiser Ridge was constantly in our view, rising three thousand feet above the lake. On a break between sessions we took an overnight camping trip to 9,000 foot Red Mountain. From the summit we could see the summits of the real high Sierra rising beyond Kaiser Ridge–beckoning, calling with an almost physical pull!

Then after camp closed that first summer, I finally got into the Sequoia high country with my Explorer post (older Scouts). We camped at Hamilton Lake, sixteen miles by trail from the Park’s Giant Forest trailhead. I describe it in my post “In the Hall of the Mountain King” .

Since that summer I have been blessed with countless backpack and mountaineering trips in the Sierra. I majored in geology and did field work for my Master’s thesis within view of  the Eastern Sierra. I have connected with and traveled with like-minded companions. My understanding and appreciation of these mountains and their natural surroundings have continued to grow.

Through these activities I have had intense spiritual experiences which have shaped my values, worldview and life. Also,

This is how the Spirit has worked in my life to immerse me in the world of mountains and shaped my life. Through this process I have also been offered (and taken) opportunities to help introduce the wonders of God’s creation with youth groups and others.

How have you been led?


About David McCoard

After earning my MS in geology I've done various things including managing the ski touring program at a small lodge in the Sierra. In 2010 I retired from Contra Costa College in California. I've always been fascinated by the mountains and nature and have spent countless days hiking, backpacking, climbing and skiing in the Sierra. The spiritual insights I've learned there have set the course for my life. Now I have time to share them and strike up a conversation.
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