NW Chicago suburbs, Illinois
June 25, 2001
These guys are real pros. I can't say enough good things about our guide, Russ Schneider. Russ has written and co-written guidebooks for Falcon guides. Not only was he knowledgeable about the park, he handled an extremely trying situation with tact and resourcefulness. He also happens to be a darn good trail cook. In case you are wondering whether to hire GWG or go it alone, here are some of the pros and cons I experienced:
1. Safety. If I hadn't gone with a group, I probably would not have felt safe going at all. At first, I had planned to go alone, but many backcountry backpacking resources advise strongly against this. Even after persuading my sister to go with me, I still felt we might be too inexperienced to go it alone, particularly in the backcountry areas of the park. Also, two women together aren't much safer than one woman alone, when it comes to human predators.
2. Experience. Our guide brought us over Redgap Pass in a snowstorm. He was also able to tell us where the bears usually hang out and point out signs of their presence. He knew when we were getting hypothermic and what to do about it.
3. Food. They plan the meals. They cook. (They'll even clean the dishes, although we helped most of the time).
4. Common gear gets divided among the group, so no one ends up carrying all the cooking gear and food.
1. The group from hell. By the second day, it became obvious that the six hikers in our group had very different goals for this trip. We broke out into three groups: the sprinters, whose only goal seemed to be to get to the next campground as quickly as possible; the honeymooners, who wanted to be alone together; and the amblers, who were interested in taking as many photos as possible and learning about the flora and fauna of the park. Unfortunately, the sprinters seemed either unwilling or unable to compromise with the amblers. Every time I paused to take a photo, there were vociferous complaints--not very pleasant. This very nearly ruined the trip for me.
2. Noise. The sprinters liked to sing. Not only did we not see any bears, we barely saw any wildlife at all. We did hear a lot of rustling in the undergrowth, however, as the sprinters' less-than-melodic warbling scared everything out of our way.
3. Trail choice. You can arrange for a custom guided trip, but otherwise you go where the guides have planned for you to go.
From journal Guided Backpacking in Glacier NP