On the Trail – Q&A with Bear Barnett, Adventure Tour Guide

On the Trail
Q&A with Bear Barnett, Adventure Tour Guide

James “Bear” Barnett is the operator of Solxplore, LLC providing remote environment medical and rescue support, courses and equipment. He’s an experienced paramedic, guide, and educator. Gemini Adventures has been fortunate to work with him for over 4 years and this year he’ll start an exciting new position leading our small group running and biking tours. When Bear is not working with Gemini Adventures he can be found exploring and/or working canyons, peaks, oceans and rivers of the world.

What led you to becoming a guide?

I moved to the Roaring Fork Valley (Aspen and Snowmass) out of high school. In this valley I lived on my bike, board, or other craft of exploration and was surrounded by intelligent, well-traveled explorers of the world. Their spirit, my educational path and my activities lead me in the direction of guiding and emergency services. I never had a choice really. This is my path.


What can clients expect on one of your adventures?

Well, that depends upon the client and the moment. Everyone and everything is always changing. I sometimes see myself as a bit of a chameleon, capable of changing colors to adapt to who I’m exploring with, varying moment by moment. Some moments we need to absorb the beauty; some we need to push ourselves hard; some we need to learn to stay together and provide one another support; some we just need to be little kids on our bikes, with a card in the spokes, streamers on the handlebars and a wide grin our face as we enjoy the downhill. Expectations… really, I find it best to roll without expectations. A clear mind makes a clear spirit and healthy body more likely.


What inspires you about the Kokopelli? Trails/rivers in general?

Landscapes of the Earth — deserts, rivers, mountains, oceans, small towns and even cities — are willing to give us the answers we’re all looking for, or have already found. For many, without exploration and socialization life loses the magic. Backcountry routes connect us with exploration as well as civilizations past and present, allowing us to feel the magic in and around us.


What does this job mean to you?

I’ve always been a seeker of purpose since flying from the nest of adolescence. I found profound purpose in emergency services, and find equivalent purpose within guiding Seeing the awe of surrounding beauty paint someone’s face, the emotional release of them pushing themselves to finish the day, or hearing the words of awe and perspective shift pass from a client’s mouth at the end of the trip are truly magical.


What’s one of your greatest adventures?

My most colorful adventure was a five-month journey in Vietnam. From the highest peak, through the jungles and villages, amongst the cities and deep beneath the ocean I learned more then I could have imagined about people, the sanctity of our wild areas, about having faith and the profound nature of commitment. I arrived with less than fifty dollars, and left five months later with about the same. Working-ish vacation!


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