Pioneer Outfitters Interviews Brian & Sheila West of Trek West Tours

Brian & Sheila on the Rio Grande
Brian & Sheila on the Rio Grande, mouth of Santa Elena Canyon, Big Bend N. P.
Pioneer Outfitters
Pioneer Outfitters

Chisana, AK –-( On the 10th of April, this News Wire will magically appear before you without me we will be at the annual NPS (National Park Service) – Guide Concession Meeting at Copper Center.

This is (obviously) the 4th issue of the Chisana News Wire and it is the first (and please, Lord, not the last!) time I am actually writing this more than a week ahead of the deadline. Sadly, that deadline bit me in the butt last month!

You all know, because I never fail to mention my opinion, how I feel about Spring. (Yeah, those feelings are right up there with climbing mountains without some serious motivation.)

Have I told you how I feel about Winter? About Wintertime in Alaska? I haven’t? How remiss of me…

The beauty of the pristine white. The soft and pure, the endless blanket that covers everything.

That extra dimension of quiet, you can feel, that surrounds you as the flakes fall from the first lightening of the day.

Watching as it first softens evidence of yesterday’s living and then erasing it, giving a visual as well as the knowledge of a brand new day.

Alaska Chick’s Blog
You are still wondering, I am sure, if I have “quit” the blog here at Pioneer Outfitters. No. I. Have. Not. Nope, not a chance. Still working on the big surprise and getting ready for all the amazing things to come. (and still trying not to be so sick!)

I do have a special interview to share with you, in this issue of the Chisana News Wire. I hope you enjoy it.

I would like to introduce to you, some folks I met through a very good friend. We have never met in person, yet, but this couple are doing something pretty incredible and maybe someday will be doing something just as special with Pioneer Outfitters.

My interview with Brian and Sheila West was done via a couple of phone calls and of course, by email. I think it turned out well enough to give you a glimpse of the kind of folks this couple are.

Sheila, can you share a little bit about yourself with us?
I was born and raised in Lakeview Long Island, NY. I graduated from Syracuse with a degree in Art Education and attended Grad School at Buffalo State. I then moved to Maryland and began teaching Art in the Prince George's County School System. I've taught Visual Arts to all levels K-12 over the past 20 years.

One of my passions that has developed over the years is Photography. It's not uncommon for me to shoot over a 1,000 pictures during a week long trip. Macro closeups of details from nature are a favorite theme of mine. I serve as Tech support for Treks West Tours and most of the pictures you see on our website were taken by me.

My other artistic passion is Makeup design for Theatre, which I've been doing for over 25 years. I've been nominated for and won multiple awards for this in the Washington D.C. area with several different community theatre groups.

Brian, how about you? Please tell us who you are.
I was born and raised in Mechanicsville, MD. I was always active in sports, chiefly Football and Weightlifting. I competed for several years in Powerlifting in my 30's.

My other interest has always been History. Interest in the History of the West was the first step into forming Treks West Tours as it lead to our first trip to Arizona after that we were hooked on it.

I worked many years in the construction industry and later at the Catholic University of America in D.C. as a Melter Operator.

At every opportunity Sheila and I escape to the West to explore, visiting the following states to hike in: Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, South Dakota, Texas, Utah and Wyoming.

What can you tell us, in short to begin with, about Treks West Tours?
Treks West was born out of my desire to spend most of my time in the environment that I loved most, the western U.S. The idea behind Treks West was to expose people to the same things that made us fall in love with the West: Natural beauty, wildlife, Native culture, history.

We try to combine all these things in our tours. The center piece of each tour is the magnificent landscape of a particular area which is the augmented by the wildlife, the native culture, and all the various history. We try to mesh all these things together to make an unforgettable experience that will make our clients want to come back again and again to explore.

What are people really looking for, when they contact you?
I think they're looking for an adventure and need help getting started on it. They see all these amazing images on our website and want to be able to see these beautiful places, up close and personal.

What do you folks do, when you are not Trekking?
Sheila teaches school full time and when I'm not doing Treks West stuff I do Home Improvement work with a friend of mine.

What are (3) characteristics that, the best of the absolute best Treks West Tours share, from an “Outfitter” point of view?
I think they have the things I highlighted earlier; awesome scenery, native culture and history.

A great example is our Circle of the Ancients Tour which travels to Indian archeological sites in the Four Corners states of AZ, CO, NM, and UT. It combines the ancient ruins and rock art of the Anasazi Indians set amongst stunning red sandstone, as well as rafting through the steep canyons of the San Juan River and horseback riding with Navajo guides in Monument Valley, UT.

What typical problems arise that clients are unprepared for?
We try to stress what type of environment we'll be hiking in and how to prepare for it so we can minimize problems, but I would say altitude is the biggest shock for people.

Most trips range between 5,000-8,000 feet above sea level and some people from the East or Midwest are surprised how much harder a hike becomes when you add a little elevation gain.

Have you found your travelogue (on your website) an advantage for prospective clients?
I absolutely think so! It personalizes the places we've gone too and introduces some of the people we've met along the way. I also open it up to travelers so they can tell about the experiences they've had touring with us.

What inspired you to start Treks West Tours?
(Brian) I was bitten by the bug, and couldn't get the wide open spaces out of my head. I was unhappy with the status quo, no passion for my job and a wonderful wife who knows all about chasing a dream.

Do you fell that Outdoor Recreation has a promising future, finding clients, on line?
Absolutely, there is nothing that we can make that can outdo what mother nature has created and people are going to want to experience this. The internet makes success much more possible because it gives you the ability to reach more people than you ever could before.

What is your “Bucket List” Trek, you have yet to take, that you would like to make part of Treks West schedule? (Or not!!)
I would love to raft the length of the Grand Canyon, it's 277 miles long and would be an awesome experience. I've hiked the canyon several times but to be able to spend a couple of weeks below the rim is definitely something I have to do. I don't think this would become one of our tours though, it takes a really experienced hand to run the Colorado River.

The other one would be Alaska of course, to really get out into the wild and be totally away from civilization. Hopefully, with your help, we'll make this a part of Treks West Tours.


Brian and Sheila West of Treks West Tours based in Mechanicsville, MD are the kind of people that we here, at Pioneer Outfitters, get to meet, one way or another (!), and make me so grateful to be part of this world we live in.

Maybe you will be part of the tour Brian and Sheila lead to Alaska and share all that we are blessed to be surrounded by here in this historic part of our country.

Mother Nature is fickle! We have gained just over 3.5 hours of Daylight in the last month and our average temperature turns our to be about +4*F…. with lows being -30* below to +46* above zero.

Till next Time

We here, at Pioneer Outfitters in Chisana, especially those that have been here for a long time know that not everything changes and we would like to share that with you. Pioneer Outfitters has made its living as horse- outfitters from it’s’ birth. Taking those generations of living in tPioneer Outfitters, Summerhis enormous wilderness and using them to show you all there is to be seen and to help you safely experience all the wonders it has to offer. Pioneer Outfitters would like to invite you to share and experience the wilds of Alaska with us. Visit:

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