While I had been mostly backpacking solo thus far on my gap year, I decided to mix it up for the summer of ’18. I wanted to take my passion and share it with others, allowing people to experiences the places I love so much. I choose to work for Glorieta as a wilderness guide in New Mexico.
I was immediately surprised at how different guiding was from solo backpacking. While on the PCT, I could crank out 30 mile days like no-ones business, but guiding was a different story. I was taking people who had never backpacked and often never even slept outside, into the backcountry. Most of my customers were extremely out of the comfort zone. This made things like setting up camp/cooking take full afternoons. A 5-mile day on the trail was no considered solid and walking .25 miles an hour was decent. Statistically speaking, this should have been a “worse” experience than solo backpacking. I was not able to see as much land, completely responsible for others, and had very little personal time, yet the opposite was true.
Getting to see my campers faces after climbing their first summit made all of the painfully slow miles seem less slow. Hearing them marvel over the sky in the backcountry made those slow mornings packing up seem to go a little faster. Simply sharing my love for the outdoors, with people gave me all the fulfillment I was looking for.
Over the course of the summer, I took around 8 trips into the backcountry. Each one presents its own challenges and had its own high points. Not only were my campers able to grow, but I was able to grow right along with them. I learned a lesson that I had struggled with grasping on the PCT. It doesn’t matter how many miles you go or how beautiful the surroundings are if you’re alone. The people you are with matter more than where you are. I was lucky enough to spend the summer surrounded by great people. My co-guides and boss made everyday fun and exciting and I was fortunate to be able to share experiences with them throughout the summer.
Overall, guiding was a positive experience. I opened my eyes to the outdoors industry and made me consider choosing a path in life that aligns with my passion for the outdoors. That is actually still a work in progress.