Some of my happiest days have been the ones spent outdoors with strangers. For a few years the dream was alive that I could at least be a part-time rock climbing and hiking guide. For me, nothing was better than seeing a person, especially the teenage girls, transform from nervous novice at the base of a cliff to a grinning enthusiast gripping on granite. Knowing that I had a part in creating that joy was the best possible adrenaline rush. And in the shared adventures the strangers became friends. I miss the hikes out from the crag to the vehicles listening to the chatter and the goodbye grins, sometimes hugs, at the end of the day. Guiding is a hard life, but it is a good life. A part of me will always wish it was my life.
I do not often get the opportunity to fill the happy guide tank any more. Living in Colorado instead of Oklahoma means there are a whole lot more gurus around and I’m just not getting in the game. And, to be clear, just taking someone on a hike they haven’t previously experienced can be a bolt of guide energy, no scaling of heights is necessary. I look now for the smaller changes to lead outside adventures. So it was a sweet success, albeit vicarious, last weekend when a friend took her Tenkara rod to spots we suggested, with flies I tied, and caught a trout on her first cast. I was not there, but the trout selfie provides sufficient proof of the joy that leapt out of the water. I will take it and treasure it as a team accomplishment, but mostly it was Christine’s moment. A moment she had several more times before calling it a day. I guess I’ll be tying more flies.
I need to remind myself that there are plenty of ways to guide someone to their outside happiness. I do not have to be there breaking trail, hanging ropes, or landing the fish. I can just be part of the crew that gives beta, encouragement, some kebaris, and maybe a Colorado brew when we all meet up to share stories. That is a pretty good life too.