TREK STORIES - Tour Leader: Phil
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Phil's story >
Our All-American Tour Leaders really make our trips what they are. We asked three to tell us why they love it, what makes them tick and the weirdest things they've encountered on tour. Here's Phil's story...
I found out about the Trek world when I was backpacking through Europe in summer 2005. I bumped into a young 20 year old tour group in Florence and thought, wow, this looks like a load of fun, I can do this!
After getting back home to Florida, I did some research and found out about TrekAmerica. I now have been on the road for six summers. There are quite a few things I love about being a TrekAmerica guide.
Of course, I would have to say the amazing National Parks the job takes me too, but also the incredible hiking & scenery, the Las Vegas limo-rides, mountain biking, exciting cities, and the list could go on....
What makes the job the best though would be the interesting and fun people I've had on-board over the years. The trekkers make the TrekAmerica experience what it is. I now can say I have good friends in pretty much every corner of the world because of this job. The strangest question I've been asked as a guide was whether or not Mt. Rushmore was man-made or created by nature. I didn't really to know what to say. There has been plenty more, but that one really rang a bell.
I've experienced many crazy things while out on the road and have heard even better stories from other tour leaders. For now, I will leave most off here, but one that does stick out happened my first year as a guide. I was on a Canadian Road-trip somewhere outside Golden, British Columbia. I was unaware one of my female trekkers had purchased bear-mace and was keeping it in her bag inside the bus. Had I known this, I would have placed it out back in the trailer away from everyone else. If you have never personally encountered the powerful and painful odour of bear-mace before then consider yourself lucky. Imagine the hottest chili's known to mankind compressed into a gas form then shot out of a canister in a high velocity fashion, that's pretty much bear-mace.
This trekker accidentally set it off while I was driving down Canadian Highway 1. The spray quickly seeped into the bus's air-condition vents and then proceeded to gas us all! I've never heard so many english and foreign swear words go off at one time. Remember, this stuff is meant to drop a 400 kilo Grizzly Bear. It's not meant for human contact, let alone goes off in a closed space. Eventually, after coming to an abrupt stop, evacuating the bus, and then watching some of us lose our lunch and shed many tears, we all ended up alright. Well not quite. Just to be sure, I stopped off at a doctor's office for him to give us a checkup. The doctor of course thought it was funny, laughed about it, and then made us all where a white facial cream for the next three days which did look quite embarrassing in public. In the end, the experience did make for a good laugh when all said and done.