Zach Collier

River Guide + Owner

  • Born: Reno, NV
  • Lives: Hood River, OR

Zach grew up loving the outdoors first as an Eagle Scout and later as a backpacker and kayaker. He began his illustrious career as a river guide during graduate school at Stanford University while studying mechanical engineering. After four years as a teacher, he traveled for a while and decided to make a career as a river guide and outfitter. Traveling the world via rivers, Zach has explored the far reaches of the globe in search of stunning wilderness locations.

Words to live by: "May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view. May your mountains rise into and above the clouds." -Edward Abbey

Vladimir Gavrilov

River Guide + Expedition Leader

  • Born: Riga, Latvia
  • Lives: Sacramento, CA

Vlad came to the United States in 1992 after a career as a research scientist studying radiation physics. He has a double PhD in Solid State Physics and has written over 100 scientific publications. For 20 years, he led expeditions all over the former Soviet Union during the early days of whitewater rafting. He wrote the guidebook Rivers of an Unknown Land about the many wild rivers of the former Soviet Union. Vlad has guided in northern California and Idaho since the 1990s. He also teaches physics and chemistry, and travels around the globe when possible.

Words to live by: "A road does not have an end, but an outcome. The road might be hard, but life is nothing without it." -Yury Vizbor

Nate Wilson

River Guide + Kayak Instructor

  • Born: Greensville, SC
  • Lives: Toyota 4Runner, USA

Nate is an avid kayaker from South Carolina who finds himself in a raft sometimes too. He has traveled all over the US exploring, gaining wilderness river skills and leadership experiences along the way. He's been chased by wild boar and alligators in South Carolina, lived off the land in Utah, climbed mountains and dodged avalanches in Glacier National Park, guided rafts past brown bears in Alaska, graduated with honors from the National Outdoor Leadership School, and once petted a wolverine although he doesn't like to brag about it. "If I'm not working on a river, I'm probably playing on one, though to be honest those are really the same thing."

Words to live by: It just keeps getting better...

Chrissy Johnston

River Guide

  • Born: Oak Harbor, WA
  • Lives: Pendleton, OR

Chrissy developed an affinity for the great outdoors while in college at the University of Idaho. She studied Sociology and Spanish, spent 6 months living in Ecuador, and had a 2-year stint at AmeriCorps working with the Coeur d’Alene tribe. She slid helplessly in love with the Rogue River after trying out the rock-slide at Tate Creek Falls.

Words to live by: "There’s nowhere you can be that isn’t where you’re meant to be…" -John Lennon

Emily Little

River Guide

  • Born: Port Angeles, WA
  • Lives: Bellingham, WA

Emily grew up in the very northwest corner of Washington, but found her passion for whitewater on the Rogue River. She learned to kayak at age 12 with Sundance Kayak School and has been in love with rivers every since. To train for pushing those big boats down the river in the summer, Emily is an athlete on the women's rowing team at Western Washington University. Working towards a degree in Kinesiology, she has high hopes of becoming a physical therapist. While she is enjoying her college experience, Emily is in her "happy place" when she is on the river or in the mountains.

Words to live by: Work hard for what you love. Do what you love. Be what you love

Michael Hughes

River Guide + Manager

  • Born: Stewartville, MN
  • Lives: Merlin, OR

Michael grew up in Stewartville, a small town in southeastern Minnesota. He is an avid reader, inspired by stories of ever-changing lives found in the works of Kerouac, Ginsberg, and others. It wasn't until a canoe trip in college on the Rio Grande that he realized he could make a life of adventure as well. As Hemingway writes, "The river was there," and Michael has been intertwined with the magic of rivers ever since that first trip.

Words to live by: "Do or do not, there is no try." -Yoda

Bhupendra Chettri

Guide

  • Born: Samste, Bhutan
  • Lives: Thimphu, Bhutan

Affectionately known as Bhupen, our cultural guide on trips to Bhutan is loved by all for his gregarious nature, huge laugh, and warm spirit. Bhupen's favorite place on Earth is his home in Bhutan, and this shines through as he leads our guests through shrines, monasteries, and historical sites imparting his knowledge and fun facts. When not leading tours, Bhupen enjoys watching movies and thrashing Zach in basketball.

Words to live by: Never point your finger at someone.

Kaela Fox

River Guide

  • Born: Palo Alto, CA
  • Lives: Portland, OR

A second generation river guide, Kaela's favorite childhood memories take place floating down beautiful rivers throughout the country. Summers spent rafting turned into a passion for Kaela and it wasn't long before she sought out the life of a river guide. After living on the banks of the American River in California, she recently moved to the northwest in search of greener mountains and new river adventures. Between rafting and adventuring with her dog and boyfriend, Kaela is planning on pursuing a teaching credential to become an elementary teacher.

Words to live by: "You're off to great places! Today is your day! Your mountain is waiting, so.... get on your way!" - Dr. Seuss

J.R. Weir

River Guide + Kayak Instructor

  • Born: Crescent City, CA
  • Lives: Arcata, CA

J.R. is one of our head guides and the lead instructor for our kayak schools. He took his first Rogue River trip at age 11 with his dad as a student of Sundance Kayak School. They returned to the Rogue for many family adventures, and at 16, J.R. began his illustrious guiding career. His genuine adoration for the rivers of southern Oregon is infectious to all of our guests, and his enthusiasm for kayaking will tempt just about anyone to give it a try. J.R. has over a decade's worth of stories to share around your campfire and a sublime talent for sharing them in a memorable fashion. If you’re lucky, he may even treat you to sushi rolled riverside!

Words to live by: Stay loose and keep paddling.

Lori Turbes

River Guide + Kayak Instructor

  • Born: New Ulm, MN
  • Lives: Arcata, CA

Growing up in Minnesota, Lori thought she was destined to live a mid-western life. And then she discovered whitewater kayaking. To satisfy her growing craving for whitewater, Lori moved to the Pacific Northwest in 2010. While kayaking is her true passion, she discovered on a Grand Canyon trip how adventurous and luxurious rafting trips can also be. Now, as long as she's on the water in the company of adventure and great people, she's a happy boater.

Words to live by: "Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside in a cloud of smoke, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming Wow! What a Ride!" -Hunter S. Thompson

Jeni Harris

River Guide

  • Born: Knoxville, TN
  • Lives: Hood River, OR

Jeni grew up playing in the mountains Tennessee, but always knew that the West Coast was where she would hang her hat. After a five day graduation trip on the Selway River in Idaho, she recognized the magic of the outdoors, and has been exploring them ever since. She has worked and lived in Montana, Alaska, and Oregon doing a variety of outdoor recreation jobs, always planning her next adventure. When not traveling or working, Jeni calls Hood River, Oregon her home, where she lives with her husband Billy.

Words to live by: "Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do then by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines, sail away from the safe harbor...Explore. Dream. Discover." -Mark Twain

Ryan Saevitz

River Guide

  • Born: Needham, MA
  • Lives: Toyota Tacoma, USA

After graduating from Washington University in 2008 with a degree in environmental sciences and architecture, Ryan spent three years in the corporate world before realizing his life-long dream to live and work in the most beautiful places on Earth. He headed out West from Boston in the spring of 2011 to train on the Rogue with the NWRC team, and was soon loving life more than he previously thought possible.

Words to live by: “The main things which seem to me important on their own account, and not merely as means to other things, are knowledge, art, instinctive happiness, and relations of friendship or affection.” -Bertrand Russell

Luna

Security + Firewood Collector

  • Born: Klickitat, WA
  • Lives: Hood River, OR

Luna, who helped found NWRC in 2009, is basically the brains behind the whole operation. Although she is on probation for barking at skateboarders while we're on the phone, she deserves credit for never failing to remind us when it's getting close to 5 o'clock. She loves sticks and happily collects firewood as she runs along the river exploring every interesting thing she can find.

Word to live by: Ruff, ruff