Rev. Claude Houge ('96 grad) was able to through-hike the Appalachian Trail (AT) twice — in 2011 and 2015. It was an amazing experience for him, and he's done some other long-distance hiking every year since 2011 with some of the friends he met on the first hike including sections of the AT, the Colorado Trail and the Pacific Crest Trail. With the "trail name" "Pilgrim," his hiking buddies knew he was a pastor and a missionary (22 years in Africa). Even if their beliefs differed from his own, they accepted him for his caring and nonthreatening nature. They were joined together by their shared love of the outdoors. During his hikes, he carried a small New Testament and Psalms. When hiking alone, he sang hymns and praise songs. He said he really loved the entire hiking experience, even the cold and rain!
During his hikes, his wife, Rhoda, stayed warm and dry at home, dehydrating food to send to post offices along the way to keep him supplied and healthy. They talked on the phone often, and she made a few trips out East from Minnesota to spend time with him and meet his hiking buddies.
Houge, who is not currently serving a congregation, keeps busy with Stephen Ministry at the church where he and his wife belong, St. Michael's Lutheran in Bloomington, Minn. He also offers his services through the pulpit supply in the area.