Several years ago, Scott Cundy was working for a big corporation in Chicago that left him feeling unfulfilled and restless. Then one day a friend asked him a question that challenged him and changed the course of his life: “If you had one year to live, what would you do with it?” The answer was immediately clear to Cundy: “I’d travel the world and backpack through every mountain range I could in that time.”
His friend pushed on. “Okay, now imagine you did that and when you returned, the doctors said they'd made a mistake; you weren't going to die. Would you regret that year?” Again, Cundy’s response was immediate: “Heck no, it would be the best year of my life!” His friend looked at him and replied, “Then why don't you just go do it?” Cundy didn’t have an answer this time. He gave his two weeks’ notice the next day and was soon trekking through Central America and then living and guiding in Alaska.
Meanwhile, Cundy’s brother Steve had been working as a New Mexico State forester, where he met his friend and colleague Brad Ball. While out working together in the mountains, they began discussing the idea of starting a guiding company. Ball had worked extensively in the field of outdoor education and guided rock climbing in Wyoming and South Dakota, and his passion and excitement for the industry was contagious. And while working in forestry was engaging in certain ways, they both felt ready for a new adventure.
After a few more twists and turns, Steve, Brad and Scott teamed up to start Wildland Trekking in 2005. “We were all so passionate about both the need for conservation and the idea of enriching peoples’ lives by connecting them to the natural world,” Cundy says, adding, “It just felt right.”
That first year they started operating trips in the Grand Canyon, Utah, and Yellowstone, and they’ve added new destinations every year. “We saw really rapid growth right from the start, and that has continued,” Cundy says. Today Wildland Trekking is operating in 31 national parks and wilderness areas in nine states (Arizona, California, Colorado, Montana/Wyoming Utah, Washington, Vermont, and North Carolina/Tennessee), as well as in nine other countries, with numerous international destinations from Canada to Patagonia, Iceland to Tanzania, Southeast Asia to New Zealand, and more.
In Colorado, the company offers a variety of trips from about June through October to destinations in Rocky Mountain National Park and Flat Tops Wilderness. “Rocky Mountain National Park is especially unique because it has every type of trip style the company offers. Day hikes, backpacking trips, inn-based tours, basecamp tours, snowshoe tours—and for the first time this summer, our popular porter and llama treks—are all available in Colorado,” Cundy says.
In addition to the specific trip style categories mentioned above, Wildland Trekking provides a variety of trip durations—from day hikes to three-week international trips—as well as customizable options and recommendations. “We really try to have something for everyone—whether you’re an extremely experienced backpacker, a novice hiker, a solo trekker or a family or group,” Cundy says. “Anyone who likes to hike or has the desire to learn—assuming they meet the minimum physical requirements for safety—is welcome to join one of our excursions,” he adds.
Cundy also emphasizes that the experienced staff at Wildland Trekking is one of the best reasons to consider going with their company. “Our customer service team is great at helping people find the right trip for them—not only difficultly-wise but also in terms of what their interests are and the type of experience they want to have,” he says.
For those who might be new to hiking or unsure about a hiking trip like this, there is a lot of support and “coaching” available to make sure you’re ready before you embark on your journey, Cundy explains. “Even for experienced trekkers, there’s a huge advantage of going with our company because we take care of everything, so you don’t have to worry about all the planning, permits, traveling with gear, or any of those other annoying details. You can just sign up and then let us handle the rest so you can fully enjoy the experience,” he adds.
No matter what your current experience or knowledge is, you’re sure to learn something new. “Our guides are so knowledgeable about the areas they work in, and they love to share what they know about the local history, culture, and environment. Traveling with a local expert truly provides a deeper and richer experience for everyone,” Cundy says.
From the beginning, Wildland Trekking has been about much more than just business. The three co-founders, now supported by a large global team, plan to continue their mission to build and grow a reputable company that serves as a vehicle to positively impact people’s lives and our planet.
“One of biggest things for us is integrity,” Cundy says. “Whether it’s through our business practices and ethics, environmental conservation efforts, or contributions to at-risk populations and efforts to honor the unique cultures of where we work—we always strive to provide the best experience possible and to be a force for good in the world.”
Lindsay Mitchell is a writer and content marketing specialist based in Colorado Springs. Learn more at coloradocreativecontent.com.
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