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June 2002

Trapped! The Mike Turner Story

Deep in Wyoming's Wind River Range, an accident with a sliding boulder makes a hiker confront his life, his fate, and his faith in God.

Photo by Diane Turner

More than 3 years after her husband’s death, Diane Turner sits in the family room of her home in Caldwell, Idaho, gently holding a thin, red spiral notebook, the journal of Mike Turner’s “Wander in Wonder.” Daughter Jill, who was just starting college when the search began, is now engaged to be married; Ben is a freshman in college; Katie, a junior in high school, plays volleyball. Andy goes on fewer hikes these days, but he still smears the patio doors with his nose trying to get in or out. “Oh, if he could only talk,” Diane says with a sad smile.

“It was only this spring,” she says, “that I began to finally see things not through the filter of Mike’s death.” There is still pain and tears and questions. But there is healing, too. “We knew an extended solo hike could be dangerous, but I’ve always believed that to live fully sometimes involves risk,” she says. “Our Christian faith points us towards a life of courage.”

One year to the day after Mike Turner was to complete his hike at Big Sandy trailhead, his family and a small group of friends returned to the Wind Rivers. They hiked the same torturous trail; Diane carried her husband’s ashes on her back. In a private ceremony deep in the heart of the Wind River Range, Mike Turner’s ashes were given to the winds over Island Lake, the spot that had filled his soul with its “amazing beauty.” That night, while walking alone on the lake’s edge, Diane Turner looked down to notice millions of stars reflected in the still water, as if heaven were glancing at itself in a mirror. “It was perfect,” she remembers, “the beauty of God’s heaven reflecting in the beauty of God’s wilderness.”

It was the kind of moment Mike Turner would have loved.

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