I’d like more information on one of your journeys.  Who can I talk to?

You can use the Contact page to send an inquiry.  I can also reached by email: Guidingspiritjourneys@gmail*com  attn: Melissa

I’m ready to sign up for one of your trips.  Where do I begin?

On the bottom of each page of the trip description is the option to pay the deposit.  To reserve your spot, you may pay the deposit there.  If you would like to make other arrangements, please contact Melissa.

Where do I send the deposit and final payment?

In order to keep costs lower, I accept personal checks for the deposit and payment.  A $30 fee will apply to any returned check.  The deposit and subsequent payments can be mailed to Guiding Spirit Journeys, 34092 Peoria Rd, Pequot Lakes, MN 56472. I can also send an invoice for the balance via Paypal but a 3% surcharge will be added to any invoice to cover their fees.  Payment plans are available, please contact me for details.

What is your cancellation policy?

Deposits are considered non-refundable under any circumstances unless in the unlikely event, Guiding Spirit Journeys will need to cancel a trip before it begins.  Cancellations 12-8 weeks are fully refundable less the deposit.  Cancellations 8-4 weeks before the trip are 50% refunded (less deposit) and cancellations less than 4 weeks before the trip do not qualify for a refund.  However, if you cancel 8-0 weeks before the trip and if the trip is full and there is a wait list and we are able to fill your spot, I will apply the balance paid less the deposit to any trip of your choosing within one year.  Non-payment of balance in full when due is also considered a cancellation unless other arrangements have been made.  No refunds allowed for any reason once the trip has begun.  

How difficult is each trip?

Wilderness travel is challenging physically and sometimes mentally.  The trips vary in difficulty with location and duration.  Some trips may require a lot of hiking, portaging, or paddling while others are on an easier, closer route.  The trip duration is a good indicator of the intensity of the trip.  The more days we have, the more we can see, the more time we will spend in travel.  If your trip comes with a fitness plan, or has one as an option, it is there to prepare your body for the rigors of travel and aid in balance, endurance and strength.  Wilderness expeditions require a lot of stamina so be prepared to feel a little sore or tired after hiking, portaging or carrying packs.  This is all part of the transformational experience and challenges that grow you.  You will be much more comfortable if  you start your trip with a moderate level of physical fitness.  Packs can weigh up to 50 pounds and the canoes weigh up to 85lbs.  While we use teamwork for the heavy lifting, weight lifting before the trip is highly recommended.  

What are the trip accommodations?

Each trip will have the accommodations listed.  For wilderness canoe trips, accommodations are backcountry style tenting camping.  We provide 4 person tents which will sleep up to three adults.  If you have your own hammock sleeping system, please let me know so we can plan ahead.

What gear should I bring on the trip?

All group gear, canoes, paddles, life jackets, cooking equipment, tents, filters, etc. are provided. Each participant will be given a packing list that we ask everyone to abide by.  Because we are limited with space and weight, it is imperative that the list be followed.  No bulky sleeping bags, thick blow up air mattresses or camp chairs allowed.  We stick to lightweight sleeping bags, backpacking air mattresses such as a Thermarest and soft canoe seats that fold as flat as 2 inches.  At some point, your gear will have to be carried down the trail and the more compact, the better.  Efficiency creates a pleasant journey.

Can I bring some of my own food and drink?  

All the meals are provided from dinner the first day to a light lunch the last day. We carry all of our food into the wilderness with us.  For a maxed out trip, chances are the food packs will be very full and will not be able to accommodate much more.  We will always have plenty of food, drinks and treats.  If anything, bring your favorite chocolate bar wrapped in plastic or favorite tea that we can squeeze in.  We ask everyone to abstain from alcohol and drugs while on our trips.  In addition to being heavy to carry, alcohol impairs judgement and as the Guide I cannot put any other client at risk while in a wilderness setting.  There really is no need for it as the beauty of this natural space is bliss enough.  Save the celebration for when you come out and you’ve completed your epic journey. 🙂

What do we do about water?

For trips into the BWCAW we are surrounded by water, some lakes are even pure enough to drink straight out of although we always purify our drinking water.  We have a water filter at base camp, we boil water for cooking or carry iodine for purifying on the go.

Can you accommodate a food allergy, restriction or specific diet?

Yes, most allergies and diets will be respected if they can be reasonably accommodated.  It can be difficult separating food due to the nature of shared equipment and limitation regarding food prep while on trail, cross-contamination can happen, so if you have something very severe such as a nut allergy that results in anaphylactic shock, please let me know before putting down a deposit to make sure it can be accommodated.

What about the bears?

This is THE most common question I get asked when women are looking at one these BWCA trips.  My answer to this is, “There is nothing out there that wants to hurt you.”  Black bears are the only bears in the BWCA.  They are more interested in our peanut butter than they are in us.  We take precautions like hanging food, storing food in a bear barrel, keeping a clean campsite and not choosing campsites where sloppy campers have been.  This is very effective in keeping bears away.  

My journey says it comes with a 6, 8 or 12 week workout plan or I chose the option to purchase a workout plan.  Can I have access to that right away after I send in the deposit? 

If your trip comes with a plan or if you purchased the optional plan, the workout plans are sent out starting 7, 9 or 13 weeks before the trip date depending on your specific trip’s plan and duration.  The additional week is allowed for a recovery period so you are completely rested when you start your trip. The plan is fully supported and workouts are sent each week.  This is a proven method to provide accountability and aid in exercise adherence for the benefit of the client.  Because I ask for weekly feedback to monitor progress, and the workouts may be adjusted according to that feedback, I will not send a full plan ahead of schedule. Each program is constructed with the trip in mind and designed to be adequate for the duration and location of each trip.  I will reiterate here that we are preparing your body for work during the trip and helping it to recover faster after being worked; but that may not make you immune from the effects of a hard travel day.  Everyone’s body is different and you may still feel a little sore and tired but that is all part of the experience and challenge.

What if I think I need more training time than what is provided?

I am fully confident that the program provided or recommended for each trip is sufficient training if followed completely; but you know your body best so if you still feel like you need more training, there are options.  The first would be to begin a walking or jogging routine; or if you want to take it a step further, additional online personal training sessions with one-on-one support can be provided for a nominal cost well before your program begins.  Please be aware that these programs are not intended for weight loss.  Though that may be an awesome side effect of starting an exercise regimen, their sole intention is to aid in balance, endurance and strength so you are confident for your trip. If you are looking for weight loss support, then contacting me for online personal training before your program starts would be a better option.   

~Melissa   guidingspiritjourneys@gmail*com