Friday, August 1, 2014

Tessa as a tour guide

If you have been reading my blog, you have read that I am, again, working as a tour guide this summer. You might have also noticed that I was not able to keep my promise on updating my blog frequently. As a tour guide I am working 24/7 and sometimes for up to 3 weeks in a row. The few days in between tours are really needed for rest and there is just not much time for writing a blog. I am happy if I am able to call my mom & dad every 2 weeks. (They have visited me here in Canada, see the next post!)

Being a tour guide, what exactly does that mean? 

I dress up. In a real outdoor-suit. I don't even own normal socks anymore. It is just hiking socks or barefoot. I also wear nail polish on my toes to hide the dirt under my nails...
The few times I am actually in downtown Vancouver or another city and put in earrings, use some make-up and throw on a dress I feel so girly that my giggling starts automatically. 

I get food. Mostly I get food in the grocery shop. Timberwolf tours provides me with a list and a dinner suggestion plan for the whole trip, but I am too creative to stick with that, so I make up my own or adjust where I see fit for the group. Sometimes that means tracking down fishermen and hoping they will sell you a salmon...

Yes, we found a nice fresh Sockeye Salmon!

I cook. Sometimes I cook alone, sometimes the guests help. But I love to cook and I love the fact most people love the food I cook. It just gives me a very happy feeling. It is the hardest part of the day, especially when I have to get up very early to make an extensive breakfast, but it is also very rewarding. 

My favorite way of cooking: grilling on the fire!

I clean up. Ok, honestly, I hardly ever do the dishes, I am very lucky to have had guests who were very willing to help out. Mostly it means I clean the campground after eating and put everything away where it belongs. 

I am the driver. This is quite self explanatory. I drive the van to where we have to be, guests don't have to worry about finding the way because that is my job. And do I always know where to go? Yes. (Maybe I don't always take the shortest way...) If I haven't been there before, street-view in google maps is awesome for preparing my trips! Nowadays I have been most places our tours go to, which is honestly a lot of different spots! 

Packing the trailer is part of the job too.

I tell interpretive stories. I will try to do my best to make you see where you are, what you see around you and what is so special about it.
And everyday I learn more again, from every group. I am sometimes amazed at the amount of what I have learned in the past year. I can tell you about the mountains, the flora and fauna, the history and some interesting fun facts of the places I go to. And still there is such a massive amount of information yet to learn if I wanted to. 

Pointing out the mountains around Lake Louise
Enjoying the view on downtown Calgary

I pick the lunch spots. When we do a hike, lunch is mostly somewhere halfway up the mountain, or even on top. Other times we have lunch along the road. Honestly, in the Rockies picking a good lunch spot is the easiest task for a guide, IF it is nice weather. If it is raining or cold it can be a challenge!

This retired couple was still smiling even when hail and snow
came down on us while having lunch on a beautiful pass.
That's Canada in July!
Another good lunch spot.

I take pictures. Well, obviously the guests take pictures. But I make sure they have time for it, on the right moments. That they see the animals they want to capture (we sometimes venture out in the evening if we have missed all the bears so far), or don't forget to look back to the awesome glacier view we see behind us for example. And I like to make sure group shots are not forgotten when we are on top. 

I also like to have fun with pictures and always make sure there are some memorable crazy ones or maybe a nice new profile picture.

Maybe this will be my new profile pic?

I deal with group dynamics. Sometimes the easiest, sometimes the hardest part of being a guide of a group trip. It all depends on the individuals in the group of course. One trip I have to work hard at growing a group, other trips it just clicks. 
But it always happens that the guests arrive as individuals and they leave as a group. I think it's beautiful.

Timberwolf Tours gives out Toques (=hat, beanie) as gifts.
Wearing the same hat while its windy and cold
helps with group bonding in a fun way!
 In the middle of nowhere in the pouring rain,
getting a flat tire
ensures quick group bonding, too...

I tell people to enjoy. Guests book a holiday. They might be working the night before they leave, are used to being on a schedule, tight timing and efficiency. This is the one time they can relax and let go, but it takes effort to be able to do that. Teaching people or reminding them how to really relax and let go is part of the job. It is also the most rewarding part if you can see a person really letting go and start enjoying the surrounding.

I go to the office. And my office is a different place every time. Mostly I live in a tent all summer and my life is stored in the van. Actually, I don't have a personal life during the summer. No time for that!
This might not sound very appealing, but have a look at the views I get to enjoy while working:

Well's Gray Provincial Park 
Helmcken Falls with a gorgeous rainbow!
Hut-to-hut trekking took us over some snow patches
(Yes, my snow-loving heart skipped a few beats!)
The last ice is still on the lake, mid of July
Our cabin for the night visible on our way down
Evening view from the cabin
Beautiful fields full of Glacier Lilly's
(The Japanese tourists go Banana's over these!)
Iceline trail, Yoho NP
View on Takakkaw Falls
Bourgeau Lake trail, Banff NP
Garibaldi Provincial Park
View on the Black Tusk
Gorgeous Garibaldi Lake

I hope this gave you a little more insight in what I am up to this summer! 
Thank you for reading again.


  1. I want to go back! With my favorite tourguide.......

  2. Nice to see your day at the office...

  3. Yes, like Annemarie says, I want to go back too!
    Thanks Tessa, you're going a great job. Couldn't have asked for a better tour guide.