If you were asked the proposed question in the title, I suspect your train of thought would go something like this. “I’m an experienced hiker that has been on many adventures. I know how to read and use guidebooks, and I use All Trails habitually. I've never thought of hiring a guide, because I know how to hike so why would I spend money on a guide? Especially, since hiking isn’t that hard…” Or, it might sound like, “I've never hiked before, but how hard could it be? There is a ton of information on the web, social media, and I have lots of friends that go hiking. Why on earth would I spend money for someone to take me hiking when I have so many resources already available to me?
In short, you’re right! Most of you have probably been on a few hikes in the past and found that it’s not too difficult. With all the recent advancements in technology, you can use applications to easily find local routes packed with endless information. If you were to view the All Trails website, or download the mobile application (which I highly suggest), you could find over 75 hikes just in the Anchorage area alone. Features of the app include the highlighted route, past recordings taken by hikers, and information on trail conditions. You can also create your own map, like the one we've drafted here for our Alpine Mini Trek.
So now that you’re even more convinced you don’t need a guide, please allow me the chance to persuade you that you should seriously consider trying it just once. There is laundry list of opportunities and benefits you could be missing out on if you go out on your own! A list consisting of safety training, education on the local ecology, environment, and terrain, free gear rental, transportation, tasty food and snacks, in depth historical insight of the area, and much more.
The number one reason I hear when people tell me why they hired me as their guide is, they are concerned for their safety when hiking in moose and bear country. And, for good reason! Moose and bear can be intimidating, even when you’ve been hiking with them your entire life. With that said, possessing the competence and confidence in preventing and reacting to potential encounters will prepare you for traveling safely in the wilderness. We are well versed in this subject and educate all of our guests on what to do in a situation before even stepping foot on the trail. For an in-depth discussion on how to properly prevent and manage large animals encounters in the wild, check out our upcoming blog titled “Don’t Get Eaten”.
Another reason you should think of hiring a guide is you don’t have to do any prep work in planning your hike. Guides have in-depth knowledge of the terrain, and where to take people. At Go Hike Alaska, I have selected hikes based on our customers past preferences and skill levels. Hiking in Alaska can be a whole different ballgame if you have never been hiking in mountainous areas. Having beforehand knowledge if a certain trail is a good fit for you can sometimes be a good thing, and we try to provide the right setting, duration, and elevation gain for you to get the most out of your experience.
To tie in the last point, our tours are all inclusive meaning that we provide transportation, daypacks, trekking poles, and food & water. All of which can cost you money when you hike alone. With us, you can try a sun butter & jam sandwich featuring local bread and berries; an oddly original and healthy trail snack option. During our five- and seven-hour hikes, you will have the opportunity to try either smoked salmon or a reindeer sausage stick, highlighting the unique flavor of the wild in Alaska. If you don’t eat bread or meat, no worries, we have gluten free and vegetarian options available.
Have you ever wondered what that green leafy stuff is growing on that white tree? It might be the brilliant salted shield lichen growing on a 30-year-old paper birch.
What about that crusty, blotched, orange spot on the boulder you see? That’s probably one of the thousand species of crustose lichen living among the glacially deposited debris found in our valleys. How about those tracks you noticed? Or, the small rodent running across the snow? Do you like trying berries or picking edible mushrooms?
I am naturalist and a subject matter expert in our backcountry wilderness. Each of our guides are expected to know the tools of the trade as well. We help provide in depth knowledge of the local environment and ecology, and answer all of your questions as you explore with us. We will educate you on which plants are toxic and which can heal you, and if we don’t know the answer we’ll make sure to follow up once we find out. We also understand the importance of letting you explore the wild on your own without too much chit chat; we provide just enough information to pique your interest.
Are you a history buff? Did you know that the Chugach State Park is a fairly new protected State Park? I’m willing to bet that a majority of you may not have known that in 1970 a group of locals from the tiny village of Indian, Alaska lobbied the state to protect the area from deforestation as they witnessed the extraction of timber from their homes. Luckily, the state decided to honor their request, and protected nearly 500,000 acres next to Anchorage making Chugach State Park the third largest state park in all of North America. We also have an abandoned missile silo, three developed campgrounds, trailheads equipped with facilities, and over 280 miles of developed trails.
How about the "beta" for planning your next adventure? Just ask. I’ve helped dozens of people seeking the thrill of the next path, whether it be in the state park or Alaska in general. Guides also have insight where the best places to eat are (like the Glacier Brewhouse, Moose's Tooth, Pho Lena, and Wild Scoops) , and what tours you should try (like the Anchorage Museum, Anchorage Trolley, Alaska Helicopter Tours, Alaska Trail Guides, and Greatland Adventures). They can also tell you the places to avoid...😬
Safety, education about the local ecology and environment, transportation, gear, food, water, information mongering, and history of the land are all benefits and opportunities you could take advantage of when hiring a guide whether it’s with us or another operator. Just the other day, I was listening to the president of a local utility organization discuss a sightseeing tour in Fairbanks he recently took with his wife (her family owned the business). It was a floatplane tour which included lunch if I remember correctly. He told us that he never thought of going on a tour, because he lived in Alaska his whole life. He said, “why would I want to do a “touristy” thing like that?” In the end, he was glad he did because he was able to see his homeland in an new and unique way.
While I’ve talked a lot about our services, I’d be amiss if I didn’t tell you that you can also find these experiences with other different tour operators too. You never know what you’ll discover when you try something out of the ordinary. Give it a shot, hire a guide (like us!), and Explore Your Wild through a new lens.