Well this should be interesting. I’m not certain that I’ve ever interviewed myself, but we’ll go ahead and give it a whirl here.
Hi Kenton, thanks for taking the time to talk to us today.
Oh, you bet! The pleasure is all mine, I can assure you.
Talk to us about yourself, if you would? Where are you from? Where do you live now? How did that come about?
Well, I’m originally from Omaha, Nebraska. I lived there for 32 years, wanting to find a way out that entire time. I’m not sure why it took so long to be freed from the Heartland, but things do tend to happen at just the right time, I feel. In the fall of 2011 I was lured by a close friend to Flagstaff, Arizona. The second best decision of my life. I packed into my little Jeep Wrangler the contents of my life, and without a job, moved across the country. I wasn’t sure at all what would be in store for me out in the west, heck, I wasn’t even all that enthralled with the idea of living in a desert. At that time I thought of myself as a mountains, lakes and rivers type of guy. Little did I know that I was starting a life-long love affair with the world’s Grandest Canyon. And, Flagstaff is glorious as well. What a gem.
So, where you drawn to the guiding lifestyle upon moving to Flagstaff?
No. Actually, I had no idea that such a profession even existed. Wasn’t aware that folks could hire guides for backpacking and the like. I actually found myself begging for a minimum wage job, at the coolest local outdoor gear store. I got the job, and it was life changing to say the least. I was finally able to meet influential friends that taught me so much. Rock climbing, mountain biking, trail running, camping, hiking, etc. Not only that, but they taught me how to love life. Something I was flat out not doing back in Omaha.
When did you find guiding, then?
After a few years of learning how to do this stuff, I befriended a guy who came into the store pretty regularly who happened to own the best guiding company in Flagstaff. I was talking to him one evening about how I could position myself to one day work for him, and he tells me to “come by next week.” I was hired, trained, and thrown to the wolves! I’ve not looked back since, and love every single second of it.
What do you love the most about guiding?
You know, most people on the outside looking in might think it’s all about getting paid to play around in the outdoors. While that is true, it isn’t what makes this profession meaningful. What makes it meaningful is the chance to share my home, this place, with folks from all over the world. Seeing someone see a place like Grand Canyon for the first time is a remarkably blessed experience. To be able to enhance folks time spent in the wild through providing interp and getting them to just the right place at just the right moment…Dang. That is something special. People’s lives and perspectives can be changed through these adventures. Changed for the better. And that, to me, is the most important part of what I am able to do. Oh, and keeping everyone safe from harm. That’s important, too!
What is your experience behind the lens?
I shot for my hometown newspaper where I was a photographer and writer. I love helping people compose just the right image!
What do you think was missing?
It was the outdoors. I grew up always exploring the forests and woodlands of my neighborhood, but never really knew that I NEEDED the outdoors. The wild spaces that are so prevalent out here in the west. I really didn’t even know what it was that was missing until I moved to Arizona. It didn’t take long to know once it was there.
You mentioned in a prior answer what you love most about guiding. What do you hope to provide our Backcountry Journeys guests while on tours?
I hope that my love of these places can affect folks in positive ways while out here. I am organized, yet flexible, and am dedicated to making my tours run as well as possible. I want to have folks that join me on BCJ tours feel fulfilled, and ready that next day to find their next trip because this one was so good.
Thanks, again, Kenton, for your time!
Thank you, Kenton, for yours..
Kenton Krueger has spent the past several years guiding guiding backpackers, hikers and photographers into the wild places of the American West such as Havasu Falls, Grand Canyon and Yellowstone National Parks as well as in the Grand Staircase Escalante in southern Utah. In addition to backpacking and camping, his adventures include rock climbing, exploring the slot canyons of southern Utah, mountain biking, and bagging 14ers in Colorado’s San Juan Mountain Mountain Range. Kenton is a trail runner, former pilot, newspaper photographer and writer. Kenton looks forward to utilizing his years of guiding experience, combined with his passion and experience behind the lens to provide memorable and unforgettable experiences at the wild places we will visit together.
Don’t Miss the Next Session of BCJ “Live”
Backyard Bird Photography: Simple Techniques for Wildlife Close to Home
with Russell Graves
Tuesday, March 9th, 2021 at 11 am (Mountain)