From left: Kate Foley, Devin Wilkinson, and Marla Gutmann are the founders and owners of Wild Sage Mountain Guides, a new recreation company designed to take women outdoors.
Courtesy of Wild Sage Mountaineering Guide

Ski patrollers Devin Wilkinson, Kate Foley and Marla Gutmann have found that they love the outdoors and few women are using the surrounding Uinta Mountains.

So, last year, they decided to unite to create a Wild Sage Mountain Guide. It aims to empower women in the wilderness through a 2-4 day backpacking trip.

“We loved personal adventures with female friends and wanted to see more adventures in friend groups and other groups,” Foley said.

According to Wilkinson, the Wild Sage Mountaineering Guide is currently booking a summer 2022 trip, which usually runs from Thursday to Saturday.

“Our flagship trip is a three-day, two-night backcountry backpacking trip. We ask women to take about five days to meet the night before and outline their gear reviews and expectations. I will do it, “she said. .. “The next day, actually the first day, is when we go backcountry.”

According to Wilkinson, the guide adjusts each excursion according to the options allowed, usually staying for two nights in one place and taking advantage of different options.

“These options may include trying a summit at a local summit or spending a day at a nearby lake,” she said. “It’s based on conditions and what people want. It also takes into account fire and trailhead conditions.”

Groups up to 10 and 2 guides will hike on the last day of the trip.

“We like to end the trip with some kind of ritual,” Wilkinson said. “We understand that people may need to take off, but we ask if they can stay overnight so we can have a little closing ceremony.”

In addition to the flagship trip, the Wild Sage Mountain Guide offers a custom adventure featuring shorter or longer mileage hikes and overnight options.

“Once people sign up for a trip, we’ll send them a list of fitness requirements and gear,” Foley said.

According to Wilkinson, fitness requirements include being able to carry a weight of 30-40 pounds and hike at altitude.

“We provide recommendations on how people can train for that, and they can walk comfortably for an average of four to six hours,” she said. Said.

For gear, Wild Sage Mountain Guides provide transportation to tents, stoves, fuel, pots and pans, meals, and trailheads.

“The list shows what they need to bring. When we meet the night before the trip begins, we’ll show you how to gear up so that you can sit comfortably while hiking,” Foley said. Mr. says. ..

The idea for the Wild Sage Mountain Guide was set a few months after Wilkinson, Foley and Gutman met during a ski patrol at Park City Mountain Resort in 2018.

Foley and Wilkinson, who met at another guide company in Montana, joined Gutman last winter.

“Mara came up with this idea and she wanted to start working for her,” Foley said. “We all have these skill sets, so she said it’s better to put them together and make good use of them.”

The idea of ​​teaching women’s skills, including what to bring, how to pack, how to filter water, and “leave-free” wilderness camp practices, struck a chord with Wilkinson.

“I remember taking my mother on my first backpacking trip when I was in my fifties. She had an inspiration for an experience that couldn’t be achieved otherwise,” Wilkinson said. .. “At her age, it was scary to try new things from her point of view, but she was able to go on a three-mile hike, eat once a night, and cook her own meals. It was a deep experience for me. “

After that experience, Wilkinson wanted to start working with women of all ages.

“I have led children, and many different adults,” she said. “I also worked with all men’s groups, but working with women feels more special than working with mixed gender groups.”

Foley captured his vision from his connections with people who love the outdoors.

“I started as a river guide at college, but never left the outdoors,” she said. “For me, there was no way to give up on the community of people I worked with. That’s why I’m back. I can’t take full advantage of this community.”

The three wanted to do more than a day hike.

“We wanted backpacking because it was the basis of our various skill sets,” Foley said. “Backpacking is also the most accessible way to take people backcountry. Staying two nights builds a skill set, sleeps comfortably in a tent, cooks and eats outdoors, and friends. It’s a great way to help you make a future adventure potential. “

All three women have many years of outdoor experience, but found it difficult to start a business “for women.”

“None of us knew what we were in,” Foley said with a laugh. “None of us have been to business school. We have never done such a remote operation because all of our combined skills are outdoors.”

According to Foley, the three needed to learn how to build a website, apply for a commercial license, and understand the terms of liability insurance.

“It helped me to understand them, and it was a large learning curve,” she said. “I personally don’t want to work with others because Devin and Mara are great business partners. They are very ambitious, very skilled and very capable. And I know it would be very difficult without these other two women. “

One of the long-term goals of the Wild Sage Mountain Guide is to offer backpacking travel scholarships to those who may not be able to afford the cost of gear.

“We want to offer one full scholarship, if not two or three, to give people access to this, which can be a financial barrier,” Wilkinson said. Said. “We are affiliated with the University of Utah, which already has a rental program, and started with the REI currently pending for COVID-19. We would like to build between these partnerships and other gear companies. Other partnerships that we believe will not only help provide more gear rentals, but will also help bring people into their stores. “

In addition to its website, the Wild Sage Mountaineering Guide can be accessed via Instagram and Facebook.

“We are gathering some believers here and trying to inform those who are coming to visit Utah,” Wilkinson said. “The ability to be autonomous, support and believe in the mission statement is powerful and meaningful to us. This kind of work has a clear sense of purpose.”