Wild Rivers and Mountain Trails

Don Ian Smith, Wild Rivers and Mountain Trails (Nashville: Abingdon, 1972).

Smith - Wild Rivers and Mountain Trails
Don Ian Smith was an Idaho rancher and a Methodist Minister who served in Boise a decade before we lived in that city. This little volume of semi-spiritual essays is a collection of reflections on the outdoors, ranch life, backcountry hunting and fishing with a dose of Christianity thrown in. I picked the volume from a large quantity of books we were sorting for a retired pastor who is in the midst of moving. It was an easy and quick read, full of familiar places and images.

The book, published in 1972, is somewhat dated, but Smith’s use of “man” to mean all humans and the exclusive use of the male pronoun would have seemed awkward to me even then. Some of his ideas about forest management are similarly dated, based in ideas that have since been proven to be a bit antiquated. He has high respect for all managers, including the Idaho Department of Fish and Game and the Forest Service. His notions about fish management seem to be ignorant of the effects of dams on the natural migration patterns of Salmon and Steelhead. His eagerness to fish 30 or 40 miles of river a day in a jetboat reflects a different philosophy than those of us who prefer to more fully explore six or eight miles in a driftboat.

However, the essays are fun and the spiritual lessons he finds in the wilderness are genuine and continue to resonate today.