A new guide for Trek Travel, Grace Heimsness is saying yes to the life she’s always dreamed of. Leaving the comfort of the familiar for the allure of something new is never easy. “I keep waiting for someone to jump out from behind a tree or from the bottom of a slot canyon, punch me in the back of the head, and shout, ‘Gotcha! Go home.'” But there’s beauty in the possibility of finding a new home.
Tell us your story. How did you end up at Trek Travel?
A few years ago, I was a wrench at a local mom ‘n pop bike shop in my hometown when one day our sales rep dropped off a few Trek Travel brochures. I picked it up, thought “Wow, that would be my dream job,” and put it in my back pocket–literally as well as figuratively. It was around the same time that I typed the sentence, “Home is whom you hang your thoughts on.” It was a nice thought, but just that. I wasn’t yet ready to live it, to leave the safety of that familiar hook on which I hung my jersey, to ride without the company of Jerry and Jens and Greenie and the rest of them.
Two years later, I was working as an arts nonprofit administrator and aching to be outside discovering the world instead of hearing about it from a desk. I applied, but didn’t expect to make it to the interview stage, forget receiving a job offer. I was that kid who cried on the first day of summer camp. I was also that kid who cried on the last day of summer camp. Deep and quick attachment is my forte and my fault, and I’ve done my best to live a life that leans least on the discomfort of personal—and personnel—changes. But over the last six months, I have fallen hard for the truth that has for so long been fighting to burn in me. I am ready to live that sentence, ready to hang my jersey on a new hook each night, to burn my legs up on climbs that leave you breathless, to work harder than I’ve ever done in my life in order to give people experiences they’ll never forget.
As a kid, what did you think you’d be when you grew up?
I was absolutely certain I was going to be a writer. I started writing stories in the fourth grade and just never stopped. I still write when I can–my blog and personal essays, mostly. Now well into my 20s, I can say with that same certainty that I want to be a writer in some capacity, regardless of how grown up I am.
When you’re not guiding, what are you doing?
Sleeping! Really though, I like to update my blog when I have a chance, read, maybe catch a re-run of Seinfeld or work on my Netflix queue. I love making dinner with my co-guides at the guide house and starting random dance/karaoke parties, usually simultaneously. Dancing and cooking go well together.
What is one thing people should know, but don’t, about being a Trek Travel guide?
How much you trust and depend on your co-guide for almost everything–not only on-trip, but also in your non-guiding life. This goes far beyond the logistical or practical; being out in the field and away from home for so long throws you into a sort of alternate universe, and your co-guide is the one person who understands completely the unique challenges this situation can introduce to your relationships and lifestyle. It’s a powerful bond and can teach you a lot about communication, commitment, and trust. This immediate bond with my co-guides has been probably the loveliest surprise, for me.
Tell us about your favorite ride.
That’s a tough one. I’d have to say the last day of our Bryce & Zion trip, a simple out-and-back up the canyon of Zion National Park to the Temple of Sinawava. It’s stunning–six or so miles of the Virgin River wend alongside the park road as you make your way up-canyon, the morning is calm and cool, and there’s this incredible morning light shining onto peaks like the Court of the Patriarchs. With 800 feet of climbing, it’s just enough to take the itch out of your legs and give you a great start to the day. And if you’re ever looking for some perspective on life, staring up at 2,000 vertical feet of petrified sand dunes that have existed for 200 million years is one way to find it.
What is your favorite view from the seat of a bike?
I love seeing my hometown from the seat of my bike. I’ve seen a few incredible places by bike and I’d love to see a whole bunch more, but there’s something about cruising down Main Street at dusk, waving at old friends and “checking in on the neighborhood,” that makes me sublimely happy.
What excites you most about the opportunity to show people the world from the seat of a bike?
I’m really stoked every time we roll into a place that I know will make our guests Ooh and Ah. It’s so satisfying to be the person who introduces someone to an entirely new setting, one beyond what they even imagined, and to watch them react. A lot of guests become kids again, in a way—sometimes you can see, if you really look, what they might have been like as an 8-year-old. It brings you back to when you saw this place for the first time, and it’s awesome to think about the fact that our guests will remember their first moments in this place forever, and that you were the one who got to share that with them.
Join Grace in Crater Lake this summer!