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Carolyn Beecher Class of 1972

Glacier Guide A summer adventure becomes a lifelong pursuit by Nancy Shohet West ’84

L

IKE COUNTLESS young people

before and after her, when Carolyn Beecher ’72 finished college, she spent the summer backpacking. But unlike many of those other young adults who embarked on more traditional postcollege careers after their adventures, Beecher was so affected by the experience that she decided to make outdoor adventures her profession. “After that month-long backpacking trip in the Sierras, I realized I didn’t want to spend the rest of my life in an office,” Beecher says. Instead, she moved within a few years to Montana and worked at various jobs, which eventually led to a role with the Glacier Country Tourism Board. There, in 1991, she met the owner of a company that runs hiking tours. “I heard a little bit about what his life was like, and I recognized that I would love to have a job like that.”

‘At the very beginning of a vacation, people are tired from traveling and may be having tense little spats with their spouse, and then after a couple of days of hiking, they’re like newlyweds. It really removes all their stress.’

Marian Lindberg ’72

Beecher, who in the off-season has a cartography business and lives about 90 minutes from Glacier National Park, started out as a backpacking and riverrafting guide. She eventually found her niche as a day-hiking guide, taking groups out for six or seven consecutive days, with overnights in national park lodges. “It’s very refreshing to see people get out of their daily lives and open up their senses,” Beecher says. “That happens easily in nature, and especially in Glacier, where the views are so spectacular. I’ll notice that at the very beginning of a vacation, people are tired from traveling and may be having tense little spats with their spouse, and then after a couple of days of hiking, they’re like newlyweds. It really removes all their stress.” And the dichotomy between her clients’ daily lives and their vacation behavior grows only more vivid with the recent advances in technology, Beecher says. “In Glacier National Park, we still have large areas with no cell phone or Internet [access]. In this day and age, that makes for a transformative experience for a lot of people. They discover how to step out of the mode of constant responsiveness to electronic media. Initially, for some people, that’s a challenge, but then they find it to be a relief.” Beecher remembers one client for whom this relief was particularly apparent. “He asked if there was cell phone coverage in Glacier National Park,” Beecher says. “I said, ‘Not really.’ A big smile broke out on his face, and he said, ‘Oh, good. My boss said if it was possible to stay in touch with the office, I had to do so. But now I can’t.’” Beecher, who is nearly 60, concedes that she’s older than many of the other hiking guides. “I’m taking it year by year,” she says. “Sometimes I think I’m done, but I keep coming back, because it’s just such a wonderful way to spend the summer and be able to work with people in a place that I love.”

To learn more about Beecher’s guided hikes, go to www.glacierguides.com or www.cwadventures.com. For more photos, visit www.concordacademy.org

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CA Magazine Spring 2014 Issue  
CA Magazine Spring 2014 Issue  
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