This weekend I received four inquiries about the 2020 guiding program. Normally I would not be prepared to discuss it until December, but I’m ahead of my usual schedule and can share a few things now.
A tentative 2020 schedule has been posted. In coming months I’ll confirm some additional details, notably guide assignments and the Rocky Mountain location.
A “final” schedule will not be posted until after the open application period in early-January. Based on demand, I’ll commit to specific dates, trip types, and intensity levels at that time.
Open application period
I will accept applications starting no later than January 2, 2020, and may open the application period in December if it’s ready to go. The open application window will end on Sunday, January 12.
During the open application period, all applications will be considered equally. Starting January 13, applications will be considered on a first-come-first-serve basis, and only unfilled spots will be available.
I have not presented this tentative schedule with my guide team or discussed their availability. If the dates are not workable for certain key guides, I may modify the schedule, but I don’t think this is likely.
In my first draft of the tentative schedule, southern Utah was not on the list. But I received enough inquiries about the location that I’ve added it. The most likely location will be Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, pending approval of a commercial permit.
In West Virginia we will run at least four trips, and we’ll run more if demand warrants them. The dates for the first two blocks are firm.
For the first time ever, we’re offering 5-day trips east of the Continental Divide. They’ll be a chance to explore the state’s best wilderness areas (e.g. Dolly Sods) and to master Appalachian conditions. The guide team will be very strong, with Alan Dixon, Joe McConaughy (“Stringbean”), yours truly, and one other TBA hammock specialist.
The second half of June seems to be an excellent timing for the Brooks Range. The weather is generally stable; the snow has melted off; the mosquito season has barely started; and there is little competition for bush flights.
Last year all of the Alaska sessions were rated High and Very High. This year, I’d expect at least one Moderate session. All applicants must still have a strong resume, however.
Yosemite & Rocky Mountains
For certain, we’ll run trips in Yosemite in July. The bugs can be thick, but I still love this month: the high country is super green and still capped with some snow; wildflowers are everywhere; and we have the opportunity to teach early-season skills like snow travel and river crossings.
The schedule in August and September will be shaped by both demand and commercial permits. To keep the guides (and alumni) excited, I’m hoping to take a break from Rocky Mountain National Park, and at least for 2020 check out another location in Colorado, Wyoming, or maybe Montana.
If my usage is restricted, I’ll probably run a few trips in the Rockies in August and then return to Yosemite in September. If I have more flexibility, I’ll run the full schedule in the Rockies in August or September, and only run a second set of trips in Yosemite if demand is high and I’m up for it.