A Female Guide in Backcountry Alaska

Alaska ChicksThe next session has opened for Pioneer Outfitters Survival & Guide Training. The funny thing about the Guide Training is that it is the real deal. There are no classrooms, you learn to do what Pioneer Outfitters has been doing since 1924. As a life, as a living, we live in the wilderness of Alaska.

I am often asked certain, key questions. I will answer them for you here:  “What is involved with or does it take to be a guide? A  female guide? The Manager of Pioneer Outfitters, a girl, and one of the guides?” Hmm, I most often respond with humor or sarcasm, or a little of both, because it is rarely possible that an outsider can truly understand.

A guide, whether a hunting or horse pack trip guide, has more to do with the client than anyone else. This means, as I have realized through learning, watching and training others myself; that a guide has to be a leader. A guide must know all of the options, answers and, in our world, so remote and inaccessible, a guide must not show fear or worry to a client.

Alaska, Big Wilderness, Big Decisions

I’d have to say, after serving proudly in the United States Navy, after experiences during my enlistment in Desert Storm, and coming to Alaska and Pioneer Outfitters, there are places that are still truly a man’s world.

Guides, as a rule, are as different of individuals as you and I, of course, but they (we) all do share many of the same characteristics. Some of these character traits include: highly competitive, aggressive, multi-tasking “stress-junkies”…. and these are the most positive points!

What an individual needs to realize is that a guide is responsible, not only for being a companion and adviser on the trail, not only to find and judge the game he (or she) encounters–if this is the type of excursion the client is on–but the well being and safety of the client and the horses. This must come first, and it isn’t generally an up-front and in-your-face issue, shit does happen, and the guide has to be able to react quickly, decisively, calmly and autocratically. If you throw in being a female, and a small one at that, the hurdles The Great Chase-Ramgrow!

A female trainee must also posses thick skin and either a really good sense of humor or a really strong sense of self worth. “Why stay here, out in the mountains, isolated and away from any chance of a life, husband, anything..?” Is another favorite question of folks who come and stay for a few short days up to a couple weeks. I stay and always have stayed because of the beauty of the land, the isolation (as I do and feel better around those I know), the true goodness, generosity and wisdom and knowledge given so freely by Terry Overly, the family I have made here and the wonder of the fact that I can sit back and say this is what I do.

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