We met Devon soon after arriving on the Island of Ometepe, Nicaragua, and one of the first things he said to us was “do you guys want to hike La Conception Volcano tomorrow?” Of course we agreed. He’s since become our volcano buddy, having run into one another again a couple weeks later in Leon (this time it was us who convinced him to join us on a two-day hike up Telica Volcano, despite his promise to himself to not sleep in a tent during his vacation).
Working as a seasonal guide sounds like a sweet deal, giving Devon lots of time for traveling and enjoying life while he’s young and able. This summer, Devon spent six weeks traveling by himself. He chose to travel in Central America partly to scout out an alternative guiding gig for his winters (apparently there’s some decent class 4/5 whitewater in Costa Rica and Nicaragua).
Most of his clients are the older, professional / retired type looking for a break from their office jobs. I love the idea that others’ 2-3 week vacations are Devon’s life. During the couple of hikes we went on with Devon, it was obvious that he was quite happy to be a client instead of a guide, and able to move along at a quick pace (instead of holding back for the geezers).
There are so many positives it's tough to pick just one, but for the sake of the question I'll say it's the nomadic lifestyle seasonal guiding affords that I enjoy most.
What’s your least favourite part?
Frozen hands and chapped feet! As much as I love spending my life outdoors, constant exposure to the elements starts to take it's toll after a while. I've had frostbite on my hands so many times that I've got virtually no feeling left in my finger tips.
What’s the longest you’ve gone without taking a shower?
31 days! I had a 21 day and a 10 day trip back to back and the shower in the guide shack where I spent the night between was broken.
What’s the most dangerous situation you’ve been in with clients?
That's a tough one. I once paddled the Nahanni in full flood. At normal levels it's quite a straightforward run with easy, continuous class 2 rapids. In flood it's a totally different beast. We were encountering monster 12 foot standing waves and chillingly powerful whirlpools and boils. At one point I looked over my shoulder just as the bow of my co-guides canyon rig (2 canoes lashed together for additional stability) dropped into a massive whirlpool. The boat (which probably weighed more than 1500 pounds) did a few violent pirouettes before being spat out.
Tell us about your scariest wildlife encounter.
I haven't really had any negative encounters, I did once have a flying squirrel in my tent. The poor bugger launched himself into the air as soon as I tried to grab him. He hopped from one kid’s head to the next before hitting the opposite wall and scuttling out the back door.
It seems to change pretty regularly, most recently it's been 2 hamburgers and a poutine from "Double Decker" (a great burger shack around the corner from the kennel). Ice cream or butter tarts for desert are a must as well.
What do you see yourself doing once you’ve finally run out of adrenaline?
Not a clue! I figure I'll cross that bridge when I come to it.
Who are the two coolest people you hiked multiple volcanoes with in Nicaragua in 2013?
Andrew and Chelsea! Obviously.