Experience As the guide of these expeditions, my goal is to provide you a safe, enjoyable and rewarding experience. My extensive experience guiding in the outdoors reaches from the peaks of the North American Rockies to the desert outback of the Australian bush; the Andes mountains and rivers of Central Patagonia in Southern America to the arctic coast in the north. I've done solo treks through some of the most remote wilderness in North America, photographing and exploring along the way, and have the skills and experience to safely lead even novice hikers.
Knowledge Having explored these regions extensively, my knowledge of the terrain, the ecology, history, geography and biology of the area promises clients a fascinating adventure. As both a guide and a photographer, I work hard to ensure your trip is as rewarding as it is memorable. Knowledge of the possible hazards that may be encountered and how to appropriately deal with them is paramount to a successful adventure. Similarly, knowing how to fully realize the splendors of the area is necessary for participants to get the very best out of their trip. The small group maximum of 5 people helps maintain an intimate yet social feel to the trip, and allows for increased logistical flexibility.
Safety is paramount. I am a fully trained and qualified Wilderness First Responder, certified through the Wilderness Medical Training Center. I carry a full First Aid and a Basic Life Support kit and also a satellite phone for emergencies. I also carry 2-way radios on the trip so we can keep in touch if hikers choose to do their own thing along the way. I choose routes for guided backpacking trips that don't involve anything too technical or dangerous, and I work hard to ensure our route is the safest possible. Having an evacuation plan is an essential element of trip safety, and I always go through a full safety talk at the beginning of each trip with the guests - prevention is the best First Aid tool we have. I'm not afraid to say 'no', and to turn back if need be. My experience as a wildlife photographer gives me helpful knowledge about animal behavior, which is important traveling through bear habitat.
The outdoors I'm a passionate lover of the outdoors and the wild and spend a good deal of time every year in the backcountry, spring, summer, fall and winter. A reverence for what is wild, for the primordial, is embedded in the way I see the world; probably, I suppose, from my early years growing up in the bush in Australia. I came to the US after college where I spent years hiking the Southern Appalachian mountains while pursing my other life as a professional musician in Atlanta, GA. I was hooked on Alaska after my first trip here nearly 20 years ago, and I've been exploring and guiding in the Great Land ever since.
Artist My love of the natural world is what I offer through this guiding service. I draw inspiration as an artist from the wilderness and its wealth of wisdom. My photography has been bought and published by magazines and textbooks across the US and abroad, from Backpacker Magazine, Popular Photography to National Geographic Maps, etc. Years photographing nature have taught me a deeper patience and observant attention that I use to engage, and I enjoy sharing what that brings to each trip.
Flexible Providing you with a safe, enjoyable and exciting backpacking trip is important to me. What I strive for is to be as fluid as possible with the trip, and allow folks to make the decisions whenever possible - determining our pace, where we camp, and so on. I'll provide input and advice where possible, and when necessary, but on the whole, I think it's important that you and your group get the trip and the backpacking adventure that you would like - it's your experience, after all.
Commitment Working as a backcountry guide in Alaska is one of the most positive experiences I've had and I enjoy it immensely. That being the case, I assure you I will do everything possible to ensure your trip is an excellent one. The high number of folks who've returned for 2nd and 3rd (even 8th) trips illustrates how well-received those efforts generally are.
Conservation As ardent lovers of the outdoors, we make every effort to be good and caring stewards of the wilderness through which we trek Leave No Trace guidelines are closely adhered, ensuring that those who follow are also able to witness the region's pristine beauty. We also donate 5% of all profits towards one of the following ecological conservation agencies: The Nature Conservancy, GreenPeace, Friends of the Earth or the Alaska Conservation. See Tread Lightly for details.
Your trip is the focus of what I have to offer. The singular goal is to present an experience that will, above all else, provide you with a sense of the majesty and beauty that is only found deep within North America's greatest resource, its wilderness.
-- Carl Donohue