Outdoor Adventures in Wisconsin
Traversing crumbling peaks, navigating slot canyons and bushwhacking through the southern ranges of Arizona, Jacob Bach’s National Outdoor Leadership School training took a pause during a windstorm when his team had to take shelter for more than 24 hours. Nestled in a sleeping bag with no entertainment but a notebook and flashlight, Bach found himself thinking about what he wanted to do with his training when he returned to Wisconsin. A former actor and current comedian at ComedySportz Milwaukee, Bach is also a lifelong Boy Scout and outdoor enthusiast. In 2016 he created Good Land Guides, an outdoor tourism company based in Milwaukee. Whether backpacking, climbing or biking, Bach leads groups of all ages through Wisconsin’s national parks to share his love for the state’s natural wonders.
What kind of groups do you take on adventures through Good Land Guides?
It’s a grab bag, it all depends. We have our public adventures and we also have our private ones; right now we have whitewater rafting and a teenage backpacking trip. Also, coming up in fall, there’s a women’s cycling group that I’m guiding down the Great River Road.
Are there options for those who would like to go on a trip but can’t afford it?
In Boy Scouts, I work with kids that are from the wealthiest family in the neighborhood and I work with kids who are from the least wealthy family in the neighborhood. But do I want every kid to go outside and go camping for the weekend? Yeah, of course I do. And I’m going to make that work for everybody. No matter what.
You mentioned your dad’s heart attack was a turning point for you. Was that what made you go into the outdoor industry?
Yeah. I was the first responder on the scene to his heart attack. I was the one who gave him CPR first, and the only reason why I have that training is because of Boy Scouts. He’s fine now, but it kind of opened up my eyes to think, we should do things that make us happy. So I decided to switch over to the outdoor industry because I’ve always loved the outdoors. When I was growing up, the only job I could imagine myself doing was being a travel show host.
What is your ultimate goal for your career in the outdoor industry?
The dream is to just dedicate my time to volunteering, to environmentalism in Wisconsin. My dream would be to give the DNR all the funding in the world and make sure that our state trails and our parks and our wilderness are taken care of and the U.S. Forest Service is doing its job and all of our national park stuff is being taken care of—but you can’t do that without money.
What have you learned from your travels?
People forget that the environment was never a partisan issue. The environment, and keeping America safe and our water clean and our air clean and making sure people have a place to recreate, a place to enjoy and a place to call home outside of the city—that was never a Democrat or Republican thing. Last year my goal was to see every state park in Wisconsin and I did that in eight months. The thing that I realized, as a gay man in my mid-20s from the city, going around to all those places, is that nobody actually feels this way. We’re told that we live in a super polarized society in the nation, but even more so we live in a super polarized state because there’s a very hard line between rural people and urban people. But I can walk into any bar in rural Wisconsin in the middle of nowhere and talk with anybody just fine.
To learn more about Good Land Guides, visit goodlandguides.com.