Building castles in the air

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Building-castles-in-the-airSomeone recently said to me ‘Be careful what you wish for – You could end up getting it. Better don’t whine about it when it’s there.’ And now I know what it means.

Did you ever imagine yourself doing something really great in the future? Did you set up a personal growth plan or write down your personal goals? Maybe you want to go on a holiday in a country far away or you are dreaming about a change in your career. You end up building a huge, beautiful castle in the air. A dream castle.

My dream castle is working as a hiking guide. The urge to reconnect with nature even convinced me to quit my steady job as an Online Marketing Manager back home in Germany and come to Canada – in my mind the perfect country to become a hiking guide in the wilderness. So in May 2017 I packed my stuff and hopped on a plane to Vancouver, destination: Chilcotin Holidays Guest Ranch, goal: complete the Wilderness Hiking Guide School and work as a hiking guide. And now that I have completed the Guide School I don’t think I want to be a guide.

Why become a hiking guide? Because I love being outdoors, hiking, planning trips and interact with people. And as I am an environmentalist I could also show people why our beautiful environment needs to be protected. I know, all that doesn’t mean that I am the perfect fit for the job but it’s at least a foundation.

And how did the Guide School change my goal? Well, first of all being a lead guide is a huge responsibility – I am used to and like to only think about myself on travels. Secondly, you literally never stop working. Yes, you get to enjoy the nature around you but you need to feed and care for the guests, the horses and (which was the hardest part for me on the whole trip) you need to stake and hobble the horses on a meadow. At more than one point on the trip I pushed myself to my limit to exhaustion and still kept going – I guess that’s what personal development feels like. So in the end it isn’t my lack of hiking abilities that will prevent me from becoming a guide as I was afraid of (I hiked a lot on the trip and leading a pack horse on foot is really fun). It’s simply the pressure, the responsibility and the incredibly huge amount of work. That’s the thing about turning your hobby into a career – you better make sure you really want it. Otherwise you will spoil the fun for the rest of your life.

Additionally I think there are better ways for me to get involved with protecting the environment, for example as a volunteer in my spare time, like I did with a local Greenpeace group back in Germany. This work gave me the feeling to actually do something good for the environment and that’s what it’s about for me. I’m full of ideals and have to have a job where I can make a difference and do something good. But in this case I fully believe that I’m more useful as a motivated volunteer, bursting with new ideas and strategies of how to convince people to change habits and how everyone can contribute. Having another professional career is what keeps me balanced and sane (I would probably go nuts if I had to think about climate change and the consequences all day long). And there is nothing better to do with your spare time than volunteering – except of course going for a hike 😉

So guiding people through nature would also be a possibility to volunteer in – back in Germany, going on nature-walks with tourists, talking about the history of the Black Forest, why having a national park there is important and how every single one of them can live a more sustainable life. That’s the kind of guiding I’d love to do.

So shortly after I came back from the Guide School Kevan asked me if I still want to be a guide. Apparently there are only two types of people. The ones that want to do this for the rest of their lives and the ones that say ‘It’s been a once in a life time experience but never again’. Yesterday I said I’m caught in between. Today I know where I stand.

I don’t enjoy riding horses as much as I should to be a horse-based guide. I don’t enjoy caring for guests as much as I should. And I certainly don’t like the huge amount of responsibility you have if something happens. But I like packing and leading a pack horse for myself. Maybe my love for solo traveling should have given me some pointers in this direction. But you never know until you try, right? That changes my personal goals a great deal. A new personal growth plan must be made. But my brain is already working on a solution.


Simone, Germany