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Here's How Vermont's Outdoor Guides Take Outings to the Next Level

Sometimes, the best way to make tracks in Vermont is to follow in someone’s footsteps.

Whether you are new to the sport or new to the terrain, outdoor adventures like hiking, biking, canoeing, snowshoeing, or ice climbing can be a valuable experience with a Vermont guide. An experienced fly fishing guide, for example, can help lift the guesswork and nervousness so you can spend your vacation having fun. “I take people right up to the edge of their comfort zone and extend it with them. Allowing them to feel like they’re starting from a place that’s well within their comfort zone makes people more attracted to the experience,” said Travis Dezotell, owner of Island Pond-based Gibbs Guides.

“(Some people) will sit back and want to do an experience, but when it comes down to getting out and doing it, people shy away because they don’t want to look bad."  

Guides make both new outdoor experiences and Vermont’s terrain accessible and fun for all skill levels and abilities.

Often, Dezotell says, his customers are new to Vermont, new to outdoor sports, or new to both, and his job is to ensure they stay safe, have fun, and maybe even discover a new favorite activity.

Dezotell remembers a group of nine women who worked with him to plan a camping and canoeing trip a few years ago.

“It was striking how they really gained massive amounts of confidence in themselves. Most of them had never been in a boat before. By the end of it, they were quite capable of getting themselves through rapids,” he said.

Outdoor guides often arrange for lodging, any necessary equipment, and some transportation, like boats or planes, in addition to hands-on help during the experience.

Graydon Stevens, executive director of Vermont Outdoor Guide Association, says visitors can benefit from an outdoor guide’s knowledge and experience of Vermont’s terrain and other outdoor businesses. Vermont’s guides offer many diverse adventures such as sky diving, scuba diving, dogsledding, and hiking. 

 “In this fast-paced world, visitors often don’t have time to plan outings and some don’t have the gear or skills but still want the adventure. Today’s outdoor professionals can provide gear, leadership, safety and technique instruction, and outdoor ethics, and even throw in stories on local natural and human history.”   

Visitors looking for fly fishing guides will find they leave with more than just fish; they’ll also come away with knowledge they can put to use next time they head out. Capt. Matthew Trombley owns and operates 3rd Alarm Charters, a year-round guide and charter fishing business with three boats based in central Vermont and serving Rutland County and the Killington and Okemo areas. While Trombley notes his high catch rate on his tours, he points out a good guide service offers more than just the experience itself. They’ll also help visitors gain some starter knowledge so they can then venture out on their own.

“Going with an established guide will shorten the learning curve on what species to target during certain times of the year,” Trombley said. “They not only help you catch fish, but should also provide a friendly atmosphere and experience about local landmarks, flora and fauna as well as the target areas on the bodies of water they might offer trips on.”

Dezotell says many of his clients head home already thinking about the next time they’ll drop a line, hit the snowshoeing trail or pick up a paddle.

Trombley recommended guests looking to hire a guide first visit VOGA.org to take advantage of the Vermont Outdoor Guide Association’s resources.

Stevens suggests connecting with the guide ahead of time to ensure fit and share information about your health, experience, and skill level so the difficulty of the program matches your ability..

"Outdoor professionals have years of experience and training and are eager to share their knowledge and activities with you. They know the terrain, local resources, and can provide enjoyable adventures while saving you time in planning your vacation. They want you to have the best ‘time out’ possible,” Stevens said. 


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