by Jack Hoehn

by Jack Hoehn, October 2, 2014

After Sabbath School and church on a recent Sabbath I changed my clothes and drove with my prepacked backpack to the Wallowa Mountains in northeastern Oregon.  The lesson this Sabbath was on Jesus and the Sabbath, so I was well fortified with Jesus’ words on Sabbath threshing, Sabbath healing, not condemning the innocent, that Sabbath was made for man not visa-versa, and not to question the appropriateness of a Sabbath nature walk even with a pack on my back.

My father had polio as a young adult, so this was not a sport I learned from him, but SDA summer camps introduced me to hiking with all your worldly goods on your shoulders, and my parents encouraged me to do what Dad could not.  My first pack was a Kelty, and I began a series of summer adventures that have taken me into the San Gabriels, Havasu Canyon, the Sierra Nevadas, Mount Whitney, Kings Canyon Sequoias, The Olympics, Banff, Jasper, Yoho, the Cascades, and more recently the Blues and the Wallowas.  (Although I did take a walking safari while living in Africa, I did not tent out in a sleeping bag with Africa’s carnivores.)

I am no longer young, so although at one time I joyed in being able to haul 40-plus pounds into some wilderness with all the comforts of home, I am now a lite-packer, and try to keep my pack 20 pounds or less.  It is 22 pounds today because my wife and packing partner is not able to pack at this time, so I had to carry a few things we would otherwise have divided with our lightweight packs, our lightweight tent, our lightweight sleeping pads, gas burner and the few essential utensils we have learned to use for warm and satisfying but simple meals in high mountain meadows.  A few clothes to layer, and I was good to go.

It is late September, but we are having Indian summer, so no storms loomed for the weekend, yet I knew the mosquitoes have been snuffed at the first high mountain frosts.  So it is an ideal time to go, I had the weekend free, and I wanted to see how my aging body would hold up.   I selected a fairly easy hike up the Lostine River west fork and climbed in two hours to a beautiful meadow surrounded by huge Lodgepole pine and Douglas fir.  I pitched the Zen tent (big enough for the two of us if Deanne was along) and put my Marmot one-kilo sleeping bag on an ultralight air mat. 

I went to Copper Creek a few hundred yards away, and I filled my water bottle and a larger plastic jug, and put in the iodine tablets.  I also filled my little saucepan and set it to boil for five minutes, with split pea soup mix that I crumbled some hard crackers into for a one-bowl supper.  I forgot to bring a book, so after dark I first searched the northern sky for any hints of northern lights that were claimed to be seen in the Northern US, but I could only see the usual beautiful starry array.  Later, a half moon came up that shone through my tent netting.  Sunday morning I hiked another ten miles to a beautiful lake, but without my pack.  And I returned to my camp, ate another-one dish meal of fruit soup (dried fruits in a rose hip Norwegian sauce), repacked my pack, and walked out in 1 hour and 30 minutes downhill at an older man’s pace.

I am tired and a little stiff because I am a medical doctor, and do not get enough physical exercise week by week.  But after a Super Burger from the Walla Walla University campus store on the way home and a few minutes in the hot tub I feel happy and warm.  And I have once again confirmed to myself by firsthand observation why I am a creationist.

  1. Intelligently Designed:  First, I resonate with wilderness, not because it is so wild, but because it is so designed.  Everything along a trail fits, from the wild strawberries, the huckleberry bushes, the Lodgepole pine, the traveler’s gentian, the penstemon, everything just fits in wilderness, as if designed, even though free of the hand of man.
  2. Satan is losing the Great Controversy:  Even though I realize there are carnivores there, their presence doesn’t spoil what is otherwise most of the time a peaceable kingdom.  I know lives will be taken, but the overwhelming impression on a hike is not, “Oh, how terrible all this bloodshed!” but how nicely it appears to work without seeing any bloodshed or predation.  It is easy even on this fallen planet to think of nature as other than red in tooth and claw.
  3. Geological time:  Geological time is visible everywhere.  Each canyon of the Wallowas is a U-shaped glacier-formed canyon.  And long glacial moraines stick out into the relatively flat valley floor. Then the mountains themselves have more recent volcanism evident, where more recent lava flows can be seen running down the sides of the glaciated canyons.
  4. Dating of Creation.  The ice age in the Wallowas appears to have happened twice in relatively recent time, 21,000 and 12,000 years before now, but the glaciers were large enough that during the “little ice age” 2,000 to 5,000 years ago that the present young moraines could have been made but not left pristine and undisturbed by a planet-wide flood. There are no “billions” of years in these stories.  But there is no reason to think they could possibly have all happened in 6,000 years.  No reason at all, unless you have deified the writings of Sister White above the evidence.

I really enjoy being an Old-Earth Seventh-day Adventist creationist.  If my church fires everyone who works for an Adventist school or university or church or hospital and thinks somewhat like I do–you will miss us.