Our guides are the face of our company and take their responsibility for its reputation seriously. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t plenty of camaraderie and camfire storytelling. Warm, funny, and insta-friend material? Yes. Our guide culture is intentionally professional and safety and family-focused.
We are people who get out and explore—especially on our off time. Throughout 2017 and 2018, we’ll be collectively paddling/visiting all 58 federally designated Wild & Scenic Rivers to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Wild and Scenic Act.
River Guide + Manager
- Born: Stewartville, MN
- Lives: Hood River, 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
River Guide + Geology Sound Effect Maker
- Born: Oakland City, IN
- Lives: Victor, ID
Audrey is from the great state of Indiana where she is still famous for her academic exploits and track and field records. After earning a degree in geology from Depauw University she came west where she fell in love with the Middle Fork of the Salmon River. She is now famous among the guiding community for her colorful geology talk, glowing personality, and for being named the Idaho Guide of the Year in 2014.
Words to live by: "Any job worth doing is worth doing right."
- Born: Denver, CO
- Lives: Denver, CO
Allie's favorite color is sparkles. She is from Denver and grew up fishing for trout, watching John Elway, not brushing her hair, and trying to keep up with her dad. Now a full blown outdoor professional, she has guided river trips and skied all over the west. She likes arts and crafts, reading and thinking about and being in nature, trail running, and cooking scrumptious meals.
Words to live by: "What would the world be, once bereft Of wet and wildness? Let them be left, O let them be left, wildness and wet; Long live the weeds and the wilderness yet." -Gerard Manley Hopkins, Inversnaid
- Born: Lotus, CA
- Lives: Lotus, CA
Nicko grew up on California's South Fork of the American River and went on his first rafting trip at age 6. He went to guide school 3 days after graduating from high school and never looked back. His love of rafting and kayaking has taken him all over the Western United States as well as Costa Rica. He spends his "off-season" in Lake Tahoe and traveling around the world looking for new rivers to run.
Words to live by: "Never let school interfere with your education." -Mark Twain
- Born: Port Angeles, WA
- Lives: Hood River, OR
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. Emily has a degree in Kinesiology and has high hopes of becoming a physical therapist. 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."
- Born: Bend, OR
- Lives: Seattle, WA
Brodie grew up near the majestic Rogue River where he discovered his passion for rivers. He has been a river guide since he was 20 and odds are he'll never stop. In addition to rafting and kayaking, Brodie enjoys snowboarding, fly fishing, and playing with his two dogs.
Words to live by: "Never buy a car you can't push"
- Born: K.I. Sawyer AFB, Michigan
- Lives: Breckenridge, CO
Courtney's spirit animal is the penguin. She found her love for rivers on the Arkansas river and now guides on the Rogue, Owyhee, Chetco, and Middle Fork of the Salmon Rivers. Her passions include star gazing, reading, playing outside, petting dogs, and skiing. Each winter she moves back to Colorado to guide dog sled tours.
Words to live by: "When you stop doing things for fun you might as well be dead." - Ernest Hemmingway
- Born: Reno, NV
- Lives: Reno, NV
Dustin grew up in the "Biggest Little City in World" and got his start in the rafting world as a volunteer for Project Great Outdoors. He continued his love for the outdoors while studying Community Development at Portland State University and getting outside as much as possible. He quickly became a trip leader for the PSU Outdoor Program, allowing him time for backpacking, hiking, backcountry skiing, and rafting. After a long day on the river you will often find Dustin with a fly rod in hand, chasing any fish that will bite.
Words to live by: "The mark of a successful man is one that has spent an entire day on the bank of a river without feeling guilty about it." -Author Unknown
- Born: San Francisco, CA
- Lives: San Diego, CA
Michael Bernd Kutzscher was born and raised in the foggy town of San Francisco. His father, who guided rivers in the '70s, took him on his first excursion down the Rogue River at the age of four, and he has been hooked on rafting ever since. Outside of rivers, Mike loves space camp, literature, hiking, biking, skiing, kayaking, cooking, brewing, and playing with dogs. Inside of rivers, he loves otters, newts, and swimming. Mike has been guiding on the Rogue River since 2011, and he now spends the non-rafting season studying medicine at UC San Diego.
Words to live by: "Believe me, my young friend, there is nothing -- absolutely nothing -- half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats."
- 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
River Guide + Yoga Instructor
- Born: Long Island, NY
- Lives: Bend, OR
River guides in the 1980s, Susan and her husband Peter share their love of rivers with their children, Kaela and Jenner, who are now NWRC guides. Susan has been teaching yoga for 15 years and leads our popular Yoga Retreats on the Rogue River, Salmon Middle Fork, and in Bhutan. She tailors the yoga to accommodate everyone from advanced yogis to beginners. Off the river Susan is a Life Coach, helping executives, professionals, competitive athletes and individuals make positive changes. Susan has a Master's degree in Psychology, and advanced certifications in Yoga, Coaching, NLP, and Hypnosis.
Words to live by: "Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away." –Maya Angelou
- Born: Boston, MA
- Lives: Bend, OR
Peter was a year-round guide on the Tuolumne River in California and the Bio Bio River in Chile. In 1985 he was part of the first raft descent of the Futuleufú River and he led the televised first raft descent of the Grand Canyon of the Stikine River in British Columbia. He now instructs our rowing schools and guides our trips to Bhutan with his wife Susan. Both his children now work as river guides for NWRC.
Words to live by: "When you hear, a mile away and still out of sight, the churn of the water as it begins to swirl and roil, fretting around sharp rocks—when you hear that unmistakable pounding—when you feel the mist on your mouth and sense ahead the embattlement, the long falls plunging and streaming —then row, row for your life toward it." —Mary Oliver
- 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.
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
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