Don Shefchik on the current state of “distancing”

Filed in Summer Adventures by on June 10, 2020

When Social Distancing meant going camping

by Don Shefchik, Field Director and Senior Guide at Paragon Guides

How easy it was, packing up the camping gear and heading into the mountains with everything you needed neatly stowed away in a backpack. Distancing meant you were going to hike for a few miles, breathe fresh air, listen to the creek and not see anyone for a couple days. For Paragon Guides, little has changed over the years. Well, one thing changed back in the 90s, llamas joined our team. Gone are the 50 pound packs, the sore knees, and tight lower back. Upon arriving at camp, participants are now more likely to do a little exploring, wet a fly in a nearby alpine stream or check on the llamas, rather than lay down for a nap. Welcome the Llama-packing era…light packs, delicious camp food, fishing waders, climbing gear, cold beer and a bottle or two of wine; thank you llamas! These unique and wonderful creatures have been a part of summer programming for nearly 30 years. They have become a summer trademark in the Vail Valley. With an extensive US Forest Service and Tenth Mountain Division Hut System permit area, Paragon Guides, with llamas in hand, is able to provide participants with the opportunity to distance themselves the “old fashioned” way; a way measured in miles, not feet.

Recently, things have changed once again. This time, the change reaches far beyond Paragon Guides and the wild places we call home. The CoronaVirus is redefining lives and perspectives around the World. Previously uncommon terms like “social distancing” have become mainstream. Through all the recent work updating policies and protocols to keep our participants and staff healthy and safe, Paragon Guides was quick to recognize a bit of silver lining;  the recommended social distance with which we have become all too familiar is the approximate length of a llama, a mountain bike, a fly rod, or an extended trekking pole. Given that llamas are not too fond of being crowded from behind, they are well practiced in what we now refer to as “llama-distancing,” an old protocol with a new name. 

Travel and financial restrictions have many people wondering what their summer vacation will look like or perhaps, if it will happen at all. Fortunately for those living on the Front Range or Western Slope of Colorado, Paragon Guides and our permit areas are not far away. We are optimistic. The reality is that all the ingredients for our outdoor adventures have not changed and are still readily available. Cascading streams, alpine lakes, winding trails, backcountry campsites and huts with priceless views are all still here. We are as committed as ever to providing our participants with “Quality Outdoor Adventures.” 

Whether traveling alone or with family and friends, Paragon Guides has an adventure to fit you and yours. There truly is something for everyone. We provide a wide variety of Multi-day, Full-day, and Half-day outings for all abilities and fitness levels. Bring the family for a Backcountry Llama Lunch, a llama supported picnic with hands on llama wrangling fun or perhaps join the llamas for a leisurely afternoon libation. For those more interested in life beyond the llamas, we offer guided Hiking, Mountain Biking, Rock Climbing, Peak Ascents, and Fly Fishing trips. 

Consider joining us this summer for some Social Distancing the “old fashioned” way. For more information, check out our website or give us a call at 970-926-5299.


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