The Virtues of a Guided Tour

Two years ago,
I took an epic paddle trip
through Prince William Sound in Alaska with a couple of buddies. We were miles away from the largest town – Valdez –
camping on bogs and rocky beaches as each day we made another fifteen or twenty miles of progress through some of the
most gorgeous scenery I’ve ever known. While we probably could have done it alone, we did it with a guide that we hired
out of Valdez, and in the end, we were all very happy we’d done so.

Which is why, when I came across this article on
the virtues of hiring a guide, I agreed almost entirely with the points the writer makes about the value of hiring a
guide. You can often go it alone, but to have someone who not only knows the best route, but is also dialed into the
best places to see wildlife, or the best places to camp, the extra money can be worth it.

The key is to pick the right guide.  You don’t want to end up with some brain-dead stoner who puts your life at
risk. So when and if you decide to hire a guide, size him up first and determine if there is a reasonable level of
trust there. Ask him about the route and what you’ll expect to see. Find out how long he’s been guiding and why he does
it. Find out if he smokes prodigous amounts of pot (if so, ask him to bring some ;-)).

A little research along these lines can go a long way. There are usually many outfitters in a place you’re visiting,
and so you’ll have other places to choose from if you don’t like the guide you’re getting. Remember, it’s your trip,
and your money.