I really love my job. I know it’s slightly ridiculous to assume that I don’t, as I don’t possess the
‘normal’ qualities of having a job. I am pretty much moving my body at all times, outside every
day in all conditions in some of the most beautiful scenery on the planet. However, what I think
really makes this job glow for me is the relationships.

I’m coming up on my 6th season as a guide this year, which is bringing a great deal of reflection
about those relationships; it’s amazing what nature can bring out of people. I’ve heard about
people’s divorces, sat with clients as they have openly wept over a relative’s death, taken
groups of terrified kids who never spent more than 10 minutes in the woods as well as
seasoned ultra-marathon runners and folks that have summitted Kilimanjaro. Most impressive are the
folks I’ve led that have had clinical physical disabilities.

I think the first time I worked with a disability was with someone who was vision impaired. I
remember getting the call and talking through specifics with them and it wasn’t really mentioned
until the end of the call, as an aside. In hindsight, I realize why…I immediately, like the total
newbie guide I was, freaked out. The liability just shot through the roof, even if it was just a few
hours in the wilderness.

I didn’t know what to expect, so being my typical over planning and
over prepared self I researched everything I could about how to be present and not be
annoyingly over helpful, where the dangers of limitations actually presented themselves in the
woods and most importantly where I could go that would be easiest for the client (with about
three hundred options for a back up plan). After meeting, we retreated to my carefully chosen
route, in which I was pleasantly blown away by how much this person not only enjoyed and
mastered the hike, but wanted to keep going…so we did. There was no extra assistance
needed on my part, there were no extra things to keep track of, there wasn’t even need for all of
the additional preparation I did. I was legitimately humbled by the client’s positive attitude, all I
did was help assuage any fears of being outdoors. I love the old adage about how the teacher
learns as they teach; who knew the same would apply to guiding! We were just leading each
other out there. Not only did we wound up doubling the distance I had planned that day, it
became so enjoyable that we even wound up staying in touch.

Since then I have worked with paraplegics, hearing impaired, down’s syndrome and cerebral
palsy patients, and all of them have taken my understanding of the human condition to new
levels. Yet, even in that reflection, they are exactly like most of the clients I see…they set a goal
for themselves, knowing a void to be in nature needs to be filled, and I just get to be the
lucky lady who supports them in achieving it. Trust me, no extra help from me is needed;
I’m just the willing audience to get people outside that would normally never think about it.
These past six years, it’s been a job in which I see the fragility and strength of humanity
reflected within the mirror of nature, which is to me is the most incredibly beautiful thing on Earth
(besides these gorgeous mountains I live in). So don’t wait for your limitations to stop you from
enjoying some much needed unplugging time; there is a world beyond all that fear waiting for
you to tap into it. We are here to help.