About Us
About Us

About Us

About Us

Our History

Our History

Our History

Aaron, a third-generation fishing guide, and Jonnie, a second-generation canoeist and rafting guide, met on a trip in 1988 on Idaho’s Middle Fork of the Salmon River. They recognized in each other a love of rivers and the outdoors. Jonnie moved to Oregon, and their life together began.

They married in 1993; had a son, Garrett, in 1996; had a daughter, Leah, in 1997. Garrett lives in Idaho and guides there and in Montana. He bought his grandfather’s Oregon Rogue River permit and runs trips there in the Fall.

Leah lives in Oregon and leads the McKenzie and Willamette Rivers rafting business. Aaron and Jonnie are proud of and excited for their children’s leadership and stewardship roles in the families’ legacies, the river business and the outdoor recreation industry.

Our History

Meet Our River Rafting Guides

Leah Helfrich

Leah’s life continually revolves around the river. She has been on the water since before she was born and a whitewater rafting guide since age 16. She has enjoyed many rivers, including the McKenzie, Willamette, John Day, Rogue and Middle Fork of the Salmon. As part of the Helfrich family, Leah is a multi-generational female boater and steward of the McKenzie River, who regularly volunteers for river clean-ups. Leah has a bachelor’s in sociology and a master’s in criminology and criminal justice. She enjoys shotgun sports, shooting pool, and country line and swing dancing.


Kenny Hill

Kenny grew up in Oregon running rivers with his father who was a river guide and renowned wood boat builder. By the age of 13, Kenny had conquered several rivers in his inflatable kayak. His favorite memories are on Idaho’s Middle Fork of the Salmon River and Oregon’s Deschutes and McKenzie rivers. He’s an expert drift boat runner with a passion for fishing. Kenny studied forest management at Central Oregon Community College in Bend, Oregon, and worked in the aviation industry for nearly 10 years. Now, back in Springfield to be closer to his family, Kenny is eager to parlay his drift boating skills to rafting.

Toby Snyder

Toby has been on the water for as long as he can remember. He loves to go rafting or kayaking nearly every sunny weekend. Over time, he has learned to row on the McKenzie, the Willamette, the Rogue and other rivers. He is an experienced rafter and kayaker, and loves to camp and fish, too. He loves the outdoors and appreciates nature.


Taylor Chocek

Born and raised in Huntington Beach, California, Taylor was a competitive surfer. After moving to Oregon, she became hooked on river surfing. She also took up whitewater paddle boarding and rafting, starting on the Willamette River before experiencing 12 others in the western United States. Her favorite part about being a river guide is watching people turn their fear into a life-long admiration of the river. Taylor is studying human physiology and competes as a heptathlete for the University of Oregon. She also enjoys rock climbing, biking, disc golf, and cliff jumping.

Brian Ward

Brian has guided trips on the Deschutes, White Salmon, McKenzie and Clackamas rivers. For him, sharing his love for rivers is the best part of being a river guide. An avid kayaker, Brian has navigated the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon and over 40 waterfalls, including the 102-foot Metlako Falls. He has taught swift water rescue classes, kayak roll sessions and whitewater rafting. Brian has a degree in geography from the University of Oregon and works as an educational assistant during the off season. He enjoys mountain climbing – he has summitted Mt. Kilimanjaro! – skiing, biking, backpacking and running.


Elijah Snyder

Elijah has experienced many river trips on the John Day, the Rogue, the Deschutes, and the Willamette and McKenzie rivers. A Springfield, Oregon, native, he grew up with the Willamette River in his backyard. An Eagle scout, Elijah has plenty of outdoors experience. He loves to play guitar and bass at his church. Elijah looks forward to sharing river trips with our guests.

Matt Estes

Matt is a second-generation river guide who grew up in the Willamette Valley. He has led more than 1,000 guided trips down the McKenzie River and has played on Oregon’s most challenging and popular rivers. He loves the outdoors and sharing the experience with our guests. His contagious smile and warm personality are matched only by his professional spirit. If Matt’s not boating or fishing, he may be training in the gym, cooking in the kitchen, running the trails, skiing the slopes or foraging for mushrooms. Matt’s favorite saying? “A good day on the river is better than a great day anywhere else.”


Jonnie Helfrich

Jonnie’s family started canoeing in Virginia in 1963. She was her dad’s bow partner until she got her own boat at age 11. She started guiding at 16 on the New River in West Virginia, and guiding took her to rivers in North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Maine and California. After meeting Aaron Helfrich on a trip on Idaho’s Middle Fork of the Salmon River in 1988, she moved to Oregon to start a life with him. She guided on the Middle Fork and rivers in her new home state. In the off-season, she enjoys relaxing and traveling with Aaron and visiting with friends.