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  1. #1
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    Default Trail guide to get you started?

    I live in Dahlonega, GA and will be retiring from teaching in a few short weeks. I am thinking about starting a business to be a teacher and guide for inexperienced women planning to through-hike or do their first long-haul. I could pick up from the airport, provide lodging and a pack shakedown the night before we leave, have my husband drop us off at FS 42 and hike with individuals or small groups to Dick's Creek Gap. From there, I would send them on their way after 5-6 days of instruction on the trail about safety, setting up camp, trail cooking, wilderness first aid, dealing with weather, woodland creatures and critters, and other trail wisdom. Do you think there might be a market for that?

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  3. #3
    Registered User Water Rat's Avatar
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    My short answer is that there is a small market for this AT-specific type of trail instruction.

    My longer answer is that it might be an uphill battle to get what you want/need from providing such a class. There are companies out there that do provide this type of instruction, but many women just don't know where to find them. To name a few of the providers: Warren Doyle offers how to hike the AT classes & guided AT hikes, Jennifer Pharr Davis founded Blue Ridge Hiking Company and offers private or group backpacking trips with guides (& other misc classes), REI has women-only backpacking trips, and many other companies offer classes from the basics of backpacking all the way to women-only backpacking trips.

    I have no knowledge of your hiking background, so I cannot say if you compete with what is already out there. I think it would certainly depend on whether or not you are doing this to make money, or just get women out on the trail. If you would be doing this to make money, then my answer would have to be that you probably won't make enough money to keep your business going. I say that only because even the bigger businesses can't make a business out of providing such a service to such a small market of women.

    If you would be doing it mostly for fun, then why not go ahead and see what you can do?

    My one piece of advice - unless you are a certified instructor, it is probably best to stay away from instructing on the topic of wilderness first aid. I mean, beyond the basics of "if you can't fix it with a small first aid kit, seek medical attention." There are some fantastic wilderness first aid books out there to point people toward. Though, if I were to lead such a class, I would encourage everyone to take an actual wilderness first aid or wilderness first responder course. Having the knowledge of what to do in a medical situation will only empower the women to feel that much more comfortable on the trail.

    Congratulations on your retirement and best of luck with your endeavors!

  4. #4
    Registered User Water Rat's Avatar
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    If you are part of any book groups, hiking groups, gardening groups (etc)... You might ask if any of the women are interested in getting out on the trail and learning the art of backpacking. I mean, as a soft-open, not-for-hire situation. That will tell you if you have a local market.

    You could also pose the question as a meet-up and learn to backpack small group on this site (rather than a for-hire situation), or other sites. That would probably be the best way to test the waters and you might meet some fun people.

  5. #5
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    I apologize in advance as a male weighing in on a the female hiking forum.

    One option you might consider is rather than starting your own business, join an established program. As a retired teacher with outdoors skills, you have a lot to offer and interested students would be delivered to your instruction. While the financial opportunities working for someone else would be limited the financial riscks of starting your own business would be eliminated. I took and Outward Bound course as a professional adult and strongly considered quitting my job to pursure an Wilderness instructor position with that organization. Outward Bound is one of many organizations that would find your skill set attractive.

    If owning your own business is important, consider contacting your closest AAA. AAA frequently organizes group travel trips. Perhaps they have a group of adventure oriented women looking for the type of trip you are looking to offer.

    Good Luck

  6. #6
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    Thank you all for your great feedback!

  7. #7

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    I sure would appreciate the training! Please tell me more.
    Last edited by Natrue Lover; 04-01-2019 at 18:05.

  8. #8

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    Quote Originally Posted by Stitches View Post
    I live in Dahlonega, GA and will be retiring from teaching in a few short weeks. I am thinking about starting a business to be a teacher and guide for inexperienced women planning to through-hike or do their first long-haul. I could pick up from the airport, provide lodging and a pack shakedown the night before we leave, have my husband drop us off at FS 42 and hike with individuals or small groups to Dick's Creek Gap. From there, I would send them on their way after 5-6 days of instruction on the trail about safety, setting up camp, trail cooking, wilderness first aid, dealing with weather, woodland creatures and critters, and other trail wisdom. Do you think there might be a market for that?
    I would never discourage anyone from starting a business...especially a woman, since I am huge supporter of my tribe! I would echo some good suggestions here. Firstly, I definitely would check out to see what is already out there. Secondly, create a "niche" for yourself...perhaps 'women helping women,' not to discriminate of course against men but his is a female forum, but I always found that having a focus, instead of doing all for everyone, is the better way to go when you start a business. Third, I would definitely get some certifications. Whilst I never instructed for money, I did prepare other endurance athletes for races...no charge...but I was certified in wilderness first aid, certified in CPR by American Red Cross, got certified in climbing, even experienced at land navigation/orienteering and FTX (field training exercises) during my ROTC etc. You get the point. The MORE certifications, skills and experiences you have, the more you can sell that to your potential clients. By all means, start a business. Small businesses are the backbone of this country! By the by, check out Small Business Administration (SBA) for potential loans and grants. Check out SCORE for business mentoring https://www.score.org If you need additional resources or assistance, just email me here on Whiteblaze. Happy trails!

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