Leslie and I just returned from a week in Wyoming snowmobiling north of Yellowstone. Now this was not a typical vacation for us. No fastpasses, ADR’s, no cruise safety drills or even a Palo brunch. And it’s cold, no…it’s very cold!
We’ve lived most of our lives in Florida, we’re not snow people, this was our third trip out to Wyoming, but two years ago, our first trip out, was our first snow trip, ever! But we enjoy it so much we wanted to visit again, it’s become an annual event for us. Leslie calls it her “happy place” But one thing we have learned in all of our years of travel is that if you’re going to try something different, something new, you’re going to need a guide. Now in some cases a guide book will do, There is something to be said for wandering through a city and discovering things on your own. I will say however, one of the things I enjoy most about Adventures by Disney is the way the guides make a destination come to life, so guides are important, and some things you just can’t get from a book or on your own.
Some activities require a bit more knowledge and understanding. I have some “bucket list” places in the world I want to scuba dive. When I finally make it to Palau or Truk Lagoon, I’ll be sure to have a guide, I don’t want to miss a thing. Wouldn’t it be a shame to do all that planning, travel half way around the world only to find out later that you missed that one thing that Truk is famous for?
We’ve fallen in love with snowmobiling, the activity and the area where we do it. We’ve had the same guide all three trips, and we’ll request him again next year. He’s perfect for us. He’s enough of a hot dog that he challenges me to play around in the snow, while he’s also patient with Leslie’s timidness and stops often to let her take photos and enjoy the landscape. At the same time, he challenges us both to try new things and improve our skills year each year.
A guide is an important thing. They’re with you for the whole trip. They make sure you “don’t miss a thing”, landmarks, wildlife and just having fun in the snow! They keep you on the trail and make sure you don’t get lost, and make sure you’re back in time for lunch or dinner! They dig you out of the snow when you get stuck, I did that a lot! And, they help you reach the top of the mountain.
The top of the mountain you say? Yes I do say. Our guide, Brian, decides we’re ready to climb to the top of Austin’s Peak. The highest mountain around Brooks Lake other than the Pinnacles which you have a great view of from the Lodge at Brooks Lake. Austin’s Peak is 10,500 feet above sea level. There are three climb steps you have to make to get to the top. Our first trip we couldn’t even make it past the first climb. Partly because of the sleds we were riding, (this year we graduated to bigger machines) partly because of the conditions, and partly our experience level. What a difference a year makes, better equipment, the correct climate to climb, and more experience.
(There’s a lesson there)
So after Brian convinced Leslie that we were going to the top, we all began our climb. We made it up the first chute, a very narrow pass to get to the first peak. There were already several other riders there contemplating the ascent up the second peak. None were going, they were just staring at the mountain. After a bit more reassuring, we started up the second climb, it was steep, and you just hang on and give the sled all its got and work to the top.
Cool, second climb over, one more to go. We began that one, and the snow was so deep and there was a left slant that draws you down the mountain rather than up. I gave it my best, but near the top the sled started veering left with the slope and I couldn’t get it pointed back up. Rather than stall or roll, I turned back down to the bottom of the last hill. When I got down there the valley was to narrow for me to turn around, I had no where to go. Did I mention what an awesome guide Brian was? He came down the last hill, told me we were going to the top and together we made the climb, and yes we all made it to the top!
It was the most incredible and exhilarating thing I’ve ever done, I’ve never been challenged like that before. We stood on the top looking all around and feeling that awesome feeling of solitude and awe at what we were seeing. As we started back down the other group was beginning their climb now that they had seen us do it. (so many lessons here, right) We rode back down to the bottom, going down can be as thrilling as going up! And at the bottom of the peak, had high fives all around and stories to last a life time.
Now, if Leslie and I had been doing this on our own and came up to that mountain, if I had said “let’s climb that”, she would have said I was crazy and headed back for an early dinner! But because we had Brian, and he encouraged us and showed us the way, she was willing to give it a try and it became a lifelong vacation memory. As we stood on top of that mountain last week, that’s the thought that ran through my head, “that’s why you have a guide” We experienced more each year than we did the year before, because of our guide Brian.
Here’s a photo of Leslie and I on Austin’s Peak. Brian enjoyed taking us up the first mountain so much, he took us up Lava Mountain the next day. Now, that’s why you hire a guide!