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Our guides here at Kokopelli Rafting are not just river guides. They are a unique and diverse group of individuals (as you will see by their bios below) that when brought together by there passion of the river and the outdoors, not only create an amazing family but become an entity that resemble the Super Friends (all the way down to the tights). Feel free to call them by their Super-hero names!
Devon has been a river guide with Kokopelli Rafting Adventures since 2006, and has worked as our River Manager since 2009. He has vast experience on a wide range of rivers, and has participated in private rafting trips on the Colorado River on Westwater, Grand Canyon, Ruby Horse Thief, Upper Colorado, Arkansas, Animas, Piedra, San Juan, Green, Rio Chama and The Rio Grande. Although he obviously has many choices, Devon says his favorite trips are right here in New Mexico: the Rio Chama Overnight or Ute Mountain stretch of the Rio Grande. Devon is a graduate of Fort Lewis College, pursuing his Masters of Education, and holds numerous certifications. He has current EMT-Basic and I.V. (Intravenous) certifications with the NREMT and State of Colorado. Additionally, he is certified with the American Red Cross as a CPR/Standard First Aid and Wilderness First Aid Instructor, as well as being Swiftwater Rescue and Leave No Trace certified. On top of his expansive certifications and outdoor experience, Devon is co-owner of the award-winning Adventure Dogs (www.RelishTheAdventure.com)
Kelly enjoys training and riding horses, taking long hikes in the mountains she loves, and photography. A graduate of Fort Lewis College, Kelly began rafting with Kokopelli in 2007 and her expertise, warm smile, and contagious laugh have made her an all time favorite! In addition to being a great raft guide, Kelly is also a world class skier and top notch gardener.
Justin was born and raised in Santa Fe, New Mexico. He is an avid outdoors-man, caver, a geology graduate of Colorado’s Fort Lewis University, and is a member of the Taos Ski Patrol. Justin is a Swift-water Rescue Technician and is one of the most knowledgeable raft guides on the river. Float down White Rock Canyon with him and be blown away by just how much Justin knows about the area! In addition to guiding commercial trips, Justin Bobb is one of Kokopelli’s guide school instructors.
Tori has spent time living in Upstate New York and California, and after graduating with a B.A. in Government from Hamilton College in 2009, Tori headed west and joined the Kokopelli team. When she’s not out on the river, Tori can be found in the office making sure our headquarters run like a well oiled machine. She also works with Ski Patrol at Ski Santa Fe in the winter, and is a talented sculptor and stone worker. Some of her most memorable rafting trips include Cataract Canyon, the San Juan River, and the Salmon River, but her favorite trip to guide is the Rio Chama.
Betsy is as smart as she is fit; she earned several degrees from Dartmouth College, including a B.A. in Engineering, a B.A. in Environmental Science, and a Bachelor of Engineering in Environmental Engineering. In 2012 she became a river guide for Kokopelli! Hailing from Seattle,WA, Betsy has rafted and kayaked various bodies of water in the Pacific Northwest, including the Copper River in Alaska and the Salmon River in Idaho. Betsy is constantly on the go, whether she’s rock climbing, running a marathon, or guiding outdoor adventures. In fact, a couple of years ago she spent the summer driving a 40ft long coach bus around the country with a group of students who had converted it to run on waste veggie oil (pumped out of restaurants’ dumpsters) and installed solar PV panels on top.
Antje joins us all the way from Jesteburg, Germany, and her many talents include hoola-hooping, playing the ukulele, practicing Jui Jitsu, and having one of the friendliest smiles on the Rio Grande. Years of tubing experience on the Nantahala and Haw River in North Carolina have prepared Antje for the wild waters out west. Before moving to Santa Fe, Antje lived and worked in Canada and North Carolina. Antje earned a B.A. in Linguistics from UC San Diego in 2003, and a M.S. in Speech Language Pathology from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 2005.
Trent is from California, where he got most of his on water experience surfing and paddling in the ocean. He is a certified WMI Wilderness First Responder and student of nature. An avid skier, Trent spends the winters exploring the back country and is looking forward to paddling as many rivers as he can. In his spare time,Trent likes to practice Free-Running with his four year old son, Rio. If he could only eat one thing for the rest of his life, Trent is pretty sure it would be avocados.
Joel is a new resident of Santa Fe, NM having lived in the San Francisco Bay area and around the Northern California, Lake Tahoe area. Before guiding on the Rio Grande he worked and ran class III-V stretches including the Gates of Lodore Section of the Green River and the Yampa River in Colorado/Utah, The Rouge River in Oregon, and in California, the South and Middle Forks of the American River, The Merced River, The Truckee River, and The Cal-Salmon. When he is not working on the river Joel enjoys rock climbing, snowboarding, mountain biking, backpacking, cooking and spending time with his wife and dog. Before becoming a raft guide Joel studied Geotechnical Engineering. In the off season he works as an industrial rigger, doing inspection and maintenance work on tall structures such as bridges, dams, and wind turbines.
Helen joined the Kokopelli team in 2011. Dividing her time between the office and the water, Helen gets to enjoy the best of all Kokopelli has to offer! Born and raised in Santa Fe, she graduated from Trinity University in San Antonio,Texas and is happy to get back to the mountains and rivers of Northern New Mexico.
A graduate of George Washington University, Avery Young is an experienced raft guide as well as an avid skier and hiker. She loves animals, joking around with guests, and a good splash fight on the water. Avery may look little, but she’s one scrappy gal! Her favorite might be the Racecourse on the Rio Grande, but Avery loves the incredible views on the Upper Rio Chama.
Ed has been part of the Kokopelli crew since 2009 and while we may only get him for a few days at a time he is well worth the wait. When Ed’s not powering through rapids he works as a professional welder. Another New Mexico native, Ed likes to mountain bike and eat green chile. And he’s hands down the friendliest guy around!
Billy is the raddest dude on the river! He has been guiding with Kokopelli since the summer of 2010 and works at Ski Santa Fe during the winters. Billy is laid back and can make any boat laugh so hard they forget to paddle. A few of Billy’s favorite things include being on the water and riding great powder.
Elisha began her guiding career on the Rio Grande in 1999, and has since worked rivers in Colorado,Arizona,Wyoming, and Scotland. She has an insatiable love for rivers and is passionate about what she does! Even on her days off, Elisha can be found out on the water. Elisha is also a professional musician, and Mom to one adventurous little girl named Charlotte.
Rio Chama Music Trip
July 1-3, 2012
We’re really excited about this season! Prepare to get wet, have a bit of fun, and learn a lot. We’re also excited about adding a few new guides to Kokopelli Rafting’s staff.
Guide School Student Objectives:
The Goal of this 8 day program is to be able to:
• Conduct a passenger safety talk
• Pack and rig a paddle raft for a day trip
• Identify river features and hazards
• Understand the basics of reading water
• Effectively use basic paddle strokes (forward, backward, pry & draw)
• Understand and use upstream and downstream ferry angles
• Use basic river signals
• Be able to throw a rope, recoil and throw again
• Be able to manage swimmers and flips
• Safely coil bow and stern lines
• Tie 5 useful knots and/or hitches
• Set up a basic mechanical advantage system
• Understand the finer points of running a commercial trip
• Pack and prepare a lunch for clients
• Learn the basic history, geology, and ecology of the Rio Grande Valley
• Safely navigate a paddle raft on whitewater up to Class III
• Introduction to rowing and rigging an Oar Rig
• Introduction to the History and Geology of the Rio Grande Valley
Preparing for Guide School
For Guide School 2012 you will need a place to stay in Santa Fe May 17- 21. If you are visiting Santa Fe, there are a few reasonably priced accommodations in the area. The El Rey Inn and Sage Inn are pleasant and affordable and are both convenient to our office. Other options include the Santa Fe Hostel, the Hyde Park Campground, and free camping at Pacheco Canyon. Starting on May 22, we will be camping at the river and we will return to Santa Fe in the early evening on the 25th to complete the course.
Guide School Equipment List
Participants Must Bring the Following:
• Lunches & power bar type snacks
• Breakfast, lunch, and dinner for the last 3 days
• Appropriate Footwear: River booties/shoes (recommended), tennis shoes or sandals with neoprene socks
• Rafting clothing that insulates when wet and dries quickly (polypro, fleece and nylon)
• Hat (wool or fleece) and fleece gloves (or rafting gloves)
• A bag of extremely warm dry clothes will be necessary everyday for the ride home and for camping
• Bring your own rafting equipment if you have it, such as helmet, throw rope, and pfd
• 2 liters of water each day
• Sunscreen/lip balm
• A thermos of hot water or other beverage is recommended (weather dependent)
• Camping equipment
Kokopelli Rafting will provide:
• Rafting equipment: helmet, paddle, pfd
• Splash gear & wetsuits
• Throw ropes
• Pot and stove for cooking at camp
Suggested Reading List
• The Guide’s Guide by William McGinnis
• Kayak: The Animated Manual of Intermediate and Advanced Whitewater Technique by William Nealy
• Professionally Guiding Whitewater- fundamentals of Running Rivers as a Paid Guide by Brad Modesitt
• Whitewater Rafting Manual by Jimmie Johnson
• The Complete Whitewater Rafter [Paperback] by Jeff Bennett
• Essential Guide: Whitewater Rafting by Graeme Addison
• Great River: The Rio Grande in North American History by Paul Horgan
• Rio Grande by Paul W. Bauer
• New Mexico Roadside Geology by Halka Chronic
Rafting season is upon us, as we commence our Racecourse trips on April 12 and will begin running trips through the exhilarating class IV Taos Box on April 28. Recent warmth suggests that it should be a fun early season. You should raft early in the season in order to enjoy a biggest waves.
Just 1 hour north, the Rio Grande Racecourse in Pilar, has flows of just over 600 cubic feet per second, which means great family rafting.
The Rio Grande Taos Box (Class IV advanced river section) currently has flows of 450 cubic feet per second. As water levels rise, this becomes an excellent excursion for those looking for a thrill. Book this trip early, as it is only available until late June.
The gorgeous Rio Chama between El Vado and Abiquiu lakes will have normal weekend levels, as water is released from the El Vado Dam on Fridays. This trip is enjoyable for people of all ages, and is truly a wonderful experience through the land and scenery that inspired artist Georgia O’Keefe.
Kokopelli also guides hiking and biking tours in the Santa Fe area. If
you are looking for a guided trip check out Kokopelli Rafting.
We would like you and anyone in management to get a sense of the river and our trip process, so we will offer a complimentary trip for you, plus a guest, on a day we are running a tour. For an adventure on any of these great river sections look us up on the web or call us at 1 800 879 9035. See you on the river!