Backpacking with the Saints: Wilderness Hiking as Spiritual Practice

Belden C. Lane

Book cover

This book was OK, but didn’t really speak to me. As someone who really likes hiking and backpacking, my sense is that it is very difficult to write well about those experiences. The author praises the value of backpacking to instill a less self-centered view of the world, and to encourage the capability to deal with disappointment and setbacks. I agree with these things, but they end up coming across as didactic or self-important when you put them to the page. John Muir is the only writer I’ve read who does this kind of writing well; he however writes very narrowly about the direct experiences he had or his immediate reactions to them, rather than trying to draw out lessons or values for other parts of life. As for the saints part, mysticism has never really struck a chord with me, so I didn’t find much that was meaningful there. However, the book did get me interested in Dag Hammarskjold, and I may pick up his memoir at some point.

My Goodreads rating: 3 stars