I am the only girl in this “Boys Club”. A Professional Guide. I am Terry’s right hand, and as such, get shoved in front of the camera way more than I think I should be (which is exactly NEVER!!).
I get asked, “what is a guide?”. A guide is a leader. Someone who has the answers, the strength, the directions, the experience and the plan. A Professional Alaska Guide might not always be happy about the situation, but quitting isn’t an option. There is always an answer, option, or different direction. “What is the biggest challenge / hardest part for you?” is another favorite question for interviewers to ask me.
Strength, is my weakness. I’m strong, for a girl. Sheer upper body strength poses a problem. Seriously, though, (knowing it is NOT the answer they want, being a girl, is the BIGGEST challenge) I’m built like a boxer, have made a lifetime commitment to building my strength. Working out is a way of life, it has had to be.
When I am in camp I usually have a helper or a trainee with me. This does different things for my camp. First of all, as any guide will tell you, having someone in camp to cut firewood, haul water, and in our camps, tend to the horses, is a bonus. For me, yes, it is all that, but it is also appropriate. Most often, my clients are men. This isn’t a problem based on behavior, it is a comfort issue. There are male clients, fewer as the years go by, that come on one of our trips with their bonus being getting away from their own females. Be the female, the wife, daughter, sister or girlfriend. Also, let’s not diminish the smart factor; “why put yourself in a situation?”. Well, hell, sometimes the client (most of whom are guys) really enjoys having a guy to talk to.
The Pioneer Outfitters Survival & Guide Training is our way of protecting a way of life. Without Professional Guides, more people would stay home, or worse- they wouldn’t. Pioneer Outfitters is smack-dab-right-in-the-middle of one of the most inherently dangerous pieces of North America. Real life training, doing with the Pro Team what you want to do on your own. Not to just live through it, but to enjoy it while you are doing it.
“Some days it seems I have to be smarter, harder, faster, stronger, meaner, funnier, more prepared, anticipating always, sharper than anyone around me. Being equal is not an option. Only to have someone need me to be softer because I am harder, quieter if I am smarter, needier if I am stronger, sweeter if I am meaner, solemn if I am funnier, complacent if I am prepared, surprised if I am anticipating, gentler if I am sharper. Knowing what each one needs from me is the hardest part of this life. Understanding that I am unable to be everything they need, expect and what I expect from myself. It hurts to less than I am in order to be all those things; it hurts to choose the wrong one. To be the push that keeps everything moving, the loyalty and the need, to be the focus at times so the frustrations and pain don’t overwhelm; to see the job gets done. To be less so often so that others can be more. Seeing, understanding, anticipating and reacting; so that the negativity falls here, instead of shoulders that would crumble, so that all is as it should be. I am less. Knowing I have to push it all aside, to still have the strength to pull it all together. I am still here.”~ Alaska Chick, 1993