What It’s Like to Take a Guided Hike
“These are special places where nature still calls the shots.” That is how the United States Forest Service describes 109 million acres of wilderness under its guidance – a swath of land greater than the size of California. There are questions the Forest Service poses in preparation to visiting these “special places”: How reliant are you on motorized or mechanized vehicles for your transportation needs? How long has it been since you’ve been without an outlet to charge your smartphone? How able are you to thrive in the absence of grocery stores and permanent shelter? Are skills like these even relevant in your daily routine?
In wilderness areas, the Forest Service provides no signage beyond the trailhead, no trail markings.
Are you beginning to think “guided hike” yet?
Hikes and backpacking trips led by seasoned professionals are a great way to fully experience our wild lands. You can pack light for a guided hike – all the top-of-the-line gear, cooking equipment, and shelter will be provided. There is never any question about whether or not you have what is required for the hike and your packs will be fitted and prepared according to your height and weight for optimum comfort on the trail. Your pre-hike preparation load is lightened as well. With a guided hike there is no need to apply for permits, develop a menu, research routes, or map out directions to the trailhead.
Along the way, guides will dispense local knowledge and stories. You will see noted flora and fauna that can easily go unnoticed if you don’t know where to look while you are trying to follow a trail for the first time, yourself. You can often expect off-trail adventures with guides who know secret spots and side trips that do not find their way into guidebooks. On multi-day hikes, guides will take care of any and all food preparation. Good eats and plenty of liquid refreshment are always a part of the guided hike.
The biggest benefit of a guided hike is safety. Guides will keep you from over-stepping your capabilities in unfamiliar terrain. There is no worrying about getting lost or making it to a safe spot for the night. Should anything unexpected arise, on a guided hike you are supported on the trail and off.
A guide cannot do everything. You still have to do the walking yourself. But those steps go by a lot easier when all the details of the trip are checked off and accounted for.