Ketchum Couple Circumnavigates
Central Idaho Wilderness with Llamas continued.

Idaho Trek Raises Funds -
Awareness for New Leaders.

Bob Jonas and Sarah Michael’s trek helped raise funds for Wild Gift, a non-profit that Bob founded to help new leaders balance development with resources and gifts of the natural world.  With support pledges of 10 cents - $2/ mile, the trek raised over $12,000 for Wild Gift.

After Jonas sold Sun Valley Trekking, his outfitter and guide business, he started Wild Gift in 2002 to “give back” to the natural world that has given his life meaning and joy. He investigated familiar outdoor leadership models such as Outward Bound and National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS) that build skills, camaraderie and leadership on long outdoor trips. He wanted a program that went beyond outdoor or environmental leadership and developed young leaders to influence policy in all fields that support stewards of the natural world.

Recruiting from graduates of Hugh O’Brien Leadership Program, (HOBY) a community leadership training and service program for U.S. and international high school sophomores, Jonas offered five HOBY graduates a deep wilderness trek in Alaska to develop their vision for a better world. Based on their feedback, Wild Gift became a 17-month program with a three-week wilderness trip to crystallize vision and business plan implemented with grants up to $10,000.

Today 52 Wild Gift fellows have been successfully launched. Visit the Wild Gift fellows directory at to see their work in Affordable/Green Housing, Community Engagement/Activism, Conservation & Stewardship, Education, Energy, Public & Institutional Policy, Sustainable Food and Agriculture and Water. “Wild Gifts is evolving again,” Jonas noted. “Alumni are charting Wild Gift’s next 10 years. The first all Alumni Board will continue to recruit new leaders to their network and engage alumni for more global impact.”

Wild Gift Fellow Creates
Daily Story on Idaho Trek

The Idaho trek story is told in reports, photos and map on the Wild Gift/Wild Miles online blog (  created by first Wild Trek fellow Pete Land.

Land, 2003 Wild Gift graduate and founder of a media firm specializing in environmental messaging, developed the blog and route map with llama icons based on GPS coordinates and texts sent by Michael from an InReach device. Land, who lives in Vermont, even spent a few weeks in Idaho this summer helping with trip logistics and meeting in remote places to transfer Jonas’ photos and hand written script for the blog.

Jonas and Michael first met Land in Minnesota where he worked at a black bear sanctuary. “I convinced him to be our first fellow,” Jonas said.”  Fifteen years later, Land also serves on Wild Gift’s first All Alumni board.

Michael’s blog posts offered a daily soap opera as with colorful descriptions of llama personalities, scenery and trail difficulties, as in these posts from the Middle Fork: 

July 27: “Our short day lasts 9 hours with 2-hour lunch stop and nap in our hammock. It is delightfully cool and trails are clear and well maintained… What we confront after lunch however, is terrifying. The trail becomes a…jumble of rocks along the river’s edge…I take sure-footed Johnny who moves like a zen master while Bono jumps and lurches, sometimes unbalancing Bob who is leading him. So much for an easy day.”

July 30: “…the Middle Fork… runs through beautiful cliffs of basaltic lava rocks. Tall rock spires and steep slopes of quartzite boulders intersperse terrain of lovely river glades, pleasant tree covered benches, cascading side streams.  The trail is carved into and across all of these water and geologic features.  Without a cleared trail, all of these features are potential obstacles...”

July 31: “Another lovely morning started out on the gentle scenic trail that follows the Middle Fork River. The enjoyment is a short-lived. In the next mile, a three-hour tree removal and navigation ordeal is needed to clear the last downfall.  After scouting and finding three more major tree blown downs in the next half of a mile, Bob finally agrees to turn back.”