Reference Letter 1 (Rolly)

Good morning Wade.

Per my promise to you, I am writing a few notes after using Packer for our outfitter and guide for our recent Chilkoot Trail hike.

The bottom line is that I could not have been more favorably impressed !  Our guide, Cory Hightower, was fantastic.   Cory is very well educated in the flora and fauna in the area and also has emergency first aid training. He communicated very well and was extremely entertaining as he related the history of the trail and stories of Sophie Smith and other locals of the turn of the century.  Cory was energetic and accommodating.  Cory actually awakened us each morning by bringing a hot cup of the beverage of our choice to our tents. If one of us had concerns about our pack weight, Cory would add the item to his already oversized pack. Cory normally carried about 92 lbs in his pack so adding to it was surprising to us. But, Cory never complained or made comment about it, one way or the other. He did what needed to be done.

Usually Cory or one of the other support guides (I call them sherpas) would hike ahead of our group and put up our tents at the next camp spot.  That way, we were all close together and located in the prime camping spots.  Talk about great service and concern for your customers. It doesn’t get any better!

The meals that Packer provided and that Cory fixed, were absolutely fantastic. Each night our meals began with wine or in the case of “Mexican night”, a Margarita ! One evening we had pasta with sun dried tomatoes, basil and artichoke hearts. Another evening we had fresh halibut chowder (I loved this the best!), another evening we had jambalaya containing rice, shrimp, and sausage, and for Mexican night, a wonderful meal of tri-tip steak made into fajitas with black beans and salsa.  There was always sufficient food for at least seconds and sometimes thirds if someone was particularly hungry. There was also warm bread and with a couple of the meals warm garlic bread.  Yum. Just like at a restaurant. Best of all too was that Cory did the dishes and cleaned up. He told us to just relax and take it easy.

To gauge our food with what others ate, while at sheep camp we had the jambalaya I mentioned earlier. One of the other guided trips was having what their guide said was Thanksgiving dinner. I asked what it was….the guide said it was a combination of water, instant mashed potatoes, dried peas, dried chicken all stirred into what one would say looked like very stiff oatmeal. It was served into a cup (our meals were on plates) with a good solid plop. There was salt and pepper for this mess but not even any butter.  I honestly felt sorry for the two Danish men who had hired the guide, paid good money, and then were forced to either eat this slop or go hungry.  Everybody at the various camps always were asking what Cory was fixing for supper. They were envious.

For breakfasts Cory provided oatmeal, warm bagels, cream cheese, jam, or peanut butter.  Cory made sure we ate sufficient calories for the work that lie ahead of us.  Of course, as I mentioned earlier, Cory delivered hot drinks of chocolate or coffee to our tents as our wake up call.   Lunches were made up of an assortment of cheeses, crackers, sandwich bread, jam, peanut butter, smoked salmon or smoked halibut, chocolate bars.  There was always hot water available for tea, coffee or hot chocolate, or hot instant soup.

When the going got tough, such as the day we crossed over the Golden Staircase, one of the sherpas carried our tents and sleeping pads to ease our weight. Talk about thoughtful, I even felt a little guilty when I thought of the weight the men and women of ’97 and ’98 carried over and how relatively easy I had it.

We had a good group too. There was no complaining or angry words. Cory kept us on track and on schedule and made sure that all our needs were met. Cory even had extra toilet paper just in case.

Wade, please feel free to quote any of my comments above in your written material or use me for a reference in the future.  I have been on several guided hunting trips in Alaska, Wyoming, Colorado, and Texas and by far, this trip exceeded my expectations and the service level I had received previously from any of the outfitters and guides.  My home phone number is xxx-xxx-xxxx. My cell number is xxx-xxx-xxxx.

Thanks to all for the wonderful memories.

Rolly

Packer Expeditions Skagway Alaska
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