Jun 30 2016
Long‑time readers will know that I’ve had very little to say about commercial outfitters and guided trips. The explanation is simple: I’ve never used an outfitter’s services, and the last time I went on a group trip that I didn’t have a hand in organizing was back in my college days. In the main, this reflects my preference for “do‑it‑yourself” adventures. I’ve always considered planning a trip to be part of the fun. Researching a route, deciding on a menu, assembling a cadre of like‑minded paddlers (or not, as the case might be) — I don’t see any of these as chores. They’re pleasures in their own right. So why would I want to hand them over to someone else, who’d then charge me for the privilege?
Having broached the subject of cost, however, I can’t deny that cash flow has also played a role in shaping my attitudes. It’s been many years since I blithely billed clients a hundred bucks an hour for my time. (This was the going rate for stones‑and‑bones work, back in the day.) Now I’m lucky to clear that much in a week. To make a long story short, when I had the money to hire an outfitter, I didn’t have much free time to go paddling. And now that I have the time, I don’t have the money to pay someone to do what I can do for myself.
I’ll bet I’m not alone.
But there’s one more reason for my studied ignorance of commercial outfitting: As I’ve gotten older (and poorer), I’ve discovered the joys of getting to know my “home waters.” Why jet halfway round the world at great expense in order to spend two weeks gawping at someone else’s scenery, when there’s aqua incognita not 10 miles from my front door? And if that isn’t exotic enough, there are dozens of pocket wildernesses within an hour’s drive (or a three‑hour bike ride). Thoreau wrote that he’d “traveled a good deal in Concord,” implying, among other things, that despite having spent years exploring the fields, woodlands, and waters near his home, he was still learning new things about his neighborhood (and his neighbors) every time he put his foot over the threshold.
All of which being said, I’m not foolish enough to think I’m typical. There are plenty of canoeists and kayakers, hillwalkers and cyclists with both money and time, and plenty more whose home waters, roads, and hills are neither safe nor attractive. And there are other reasons — good reasons — why you, or someone close to you, might find a commercial trip or guided outing to be a very attractive option.
Let’s examine these. Or to put it another way, let’s see why doing it yourself might not be the best idea… Read more…
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