Over the years, I have done some incredible hikes with my dad, but one trip stands out. For years, my dad has wanted to hike the Specimen Creek Trail in Yellowstone National Park and for whatever reason (life mainly) it has never happened.

Specimen Creek Trail, Montana
The Specimen Creek Trail in Yellowstone National Park, Montana.

My dad is not a lightweight backpacker and probably isn’t an intentional lightweight hiker, but we do share the common bond of loving the outdoors and feeling peace when we are in nature.

The Specimen Creek Trail is a gradual hike along the creek that offers access to a remote area of the Park and leads to Sportsman’s Lake. Despite the fact that we were finally achieving one of my dad’s dreams, it wasn’t all a walk in the Park (excuse the weak attempt at humor). We were there in the early season, and several feet of snow covered the trail which not only slowed us down but made navigation a challenge.

Deep Snow
My dad in the deep snow. Each step became more rewarding as we moved closer to our goal despite the challenge!

We lost the trail for a little while but eventually used landmarks to find our way forward. We reached Sportsman’s Lake and just enjoyed the experience. The Specimen Creek Trail to Sportsman’s Lake was a very simple hike in a beautiful part of the world but what made it so special was doing the hike with my dad. He had wanted to do the hike for so long!

One day, I said, “Let’s do it!” So we made a plan and made it happen. It wasn’t a big deal but for my dad, it made all the difference in the world because he had wanted to do it for so long.

Sportsman's Lake
Sportsman’s Lake! What a view!

Right now, I am not only BPL’s Associate Editor, but I’m working as the Trek Director and a Trek Leader for our Wilderness Adventure Treks.

Currently, we are offering Father’s Day promotions for our treks in the Beartooth Wilderness in Montana. The whole point of our treks it to teach people the lightweight backpacking skills that will give them the confidence to go on their backpacking trips.

More importantly, we just want to offer a venue that allows people the chance to visit a beautiful, and remote wilderness with people who share their values and care about these types of experiences as much as we do.

I know from witnessing my own life that backpacking has played an important role in who I’ve become: it has helped me become a more caring, intentional person. Caring because I have learned the value of teamwork and support that makes group trips possible. Intentional because extended backpacking requires careful planning and forethought in order to get the most out of the experience.

I also have witnessed the transformative power backpacking has in the lives of kids I have mentored through backpacking programs. In addition, I have seen how it has inspired my dad to reconnect with a passion that was seeded when he was a boy growing up in Finland.

I suppose that what I am really trying to say is that being in nature, in the outdoors is healing. It is something we all need. It helps put things in perspective and gives us a clearer head. Without a balance between man and nature – urban and wilderness – some of us cannot expect to thrive.

I don’t know you or your dad, but I do know the benefits that have impacted me when I’ve spent time with others in nature. Based on those experiences, I can promise you that you and your dad would benefit from taking a hike together.

My Dad
My dad on the trail fulfilling one of his dreams!

As I write this, I am preparing to head out in the Bob Marshall Wilderness for a week. I am excited to be out boating the South Fork of the Flathead River for a few days, but as I sit here reflecting, I can’t help but think about the role that backpacking (and in general, just getting outside) has played in my life.

So here’s my Father’s Day charge to you all. Not matter how frayed or strong your relationship with your family members, please cherish it. I would like to encourage you all to get outside with your family – it is healing and in these trying times that is something we all need.

And if you are able I’d love to meet you and your dad on the trail for a Wilderness Adventures Trek.

Do you have a story about hiking with your dad? Or if you’re a dad, hiking with your kid(s)? We’d love to hear about those stories, please share them in the comments below.

See you on the trail! Onward and Upward!