My love for hiking began the summer before high school. I left the inner city of Chicago to go on a two week expedition in Colorado with Outward Bound. We went backpacking, rafting and climbing. That experience sparked a passion for outdoor adventure that I have never lost.
Later in life, I moved to Oregon and hiked Mount Scott, the tallest peak in Crater Lake National Park. It happened to be the butterfly birthing season and hundreds of butterflies were flying around me as I made my ascent to the peak. I wanted to find a way to enjoy this beauty more often and immerse myself in nature.
I decided to apply for a job I saw on Coolworks at Crater Lake Lodge, and a month later I drove from Chicago to Oregon and began my journey. I never would have dreamed on the day of that hike on top of Mount Scott that I would be returning a year later to live and work there.
I have since worked at two other historic resort’s in Oregon. Also, I worked on several organic vegetable farm’s in Oregon and Washington. In an effort to make wilderness guiding a career, I earned my Wilderness First Responder Certificate from NOLS. This enabled me to become a kayak guide on the Olympic Peninsula in Washington.
This lifestyle definitely has its ups and downs – from soaking in hot springs to fixing a flat tire on a sheet of ice at 8000 ft. elevation. I have been able to live and work in gorgeous places that some people only get to experience once in a lifetime. For someone who loves to hike, it was amazing to step out my door on off days and hike in beautiful wilderness.
My advice to anyone considering the plunge would be to make the most of your off time and push yourself to go out and explore. Depending on your location, you may need to travel long distances for groceries, so learning to buy at least two weeks of food each trip was helpful and saved on gas. Two locations I worked had a two hour drive one way to the nearest grocery store! Another recommendation is to decide your preferences before applying. For instance, many jobs having drastically different housing options which can push your comfort levels – everything from your own trailer to sharing one bunk room with three other people. So, just be honest with yourself and do your research to ensure you have the best experience.