RGA brings together an amazing team of quality guides. The depth of experience on our team is unsurpassed. Our success begins with hiring the right people, giving them in–depth training and then treating them well so that they want to return year after year. We have the most in-depth training program and one of the highest guide return rates in the business. Our guides remain fresh and enthusiastic through the season and have lots of stories to share with you about life in Alaska.
Joe arrived in Haines in 1986 working as a naturalist aboard a small, eighty-passenger expedition ship. Haines captured Joe’s heart and imagination, and he moved here in 1987 to manage and guide for a local rafting company. Joe founded Rainbow Glacier Adventures in 1992. The first tours RGA offered featured small group visits to local artists’ homes. Since that time, the company and variety of tours has grown but the concept of local guides and high-quality, educational tours remains. While Joe spends much of his time running the organization, he particularly enjoys guiding private photography tours and special charters. Joe enjoys backcountry skiing, international travel, photography, and, above all, spending time with his wife, Edie, and daughters, Stella Angelina and Sapphire Marie. See Joe’s complete bio.
Jen has been guiding since 2007, but living the rugged Alaska life for over 30 years. She does all sorts of nature tours, artist tours, sightseeing tours and anything else that comes up. She loves showing off the glaciers and wildlife in this paradise we live in and sharing about the freedom we have to be ourselves and do whatever we want. Jen is an artist – she carves fossil ivory and makes jewelry. She also loves to hike, sail, kayak, fish, ski, knit, sew, garden, read and she loves trying and learning new things. Jen says, “I can’t imagine any lifestyle that could possibly beat what I already have!”
Deb came to Alaska in 1974 to strike her fortune in the restaurant business. She owned and operated Juneau’s celebrated eatery, the Fiddlehead Restaurant and Bakery, for over twenty years. Early on she discovered the beauty of the Chilkat Peninsula, and built a cabin in the woods in Haines in 1985. Now she feeds her soul by living the subsistence lifestyle, exploring the planet and guiding for Rainbow Glacier Adventures. Since 2007, Deb has guided almost every type of tour offered here at RGA from kayaking and hiking to cultural local artist and historic walking tours to flightseeing over Glacier Bay. Sharing her love of the wild with Alaska’s visitors is the high point of her year.
Tom started guiding photography tours for Rainbow Glacier Adventures in 2010. In his off hours he enjoys photography, kayaking, fishing, camping, hiking, and finishing building his house! As a guide, Tom enjoys being able to get out into the Alaskan countryside and watch the excitement and appreciation that his clients show while experiencing this wonderful land and its bounty of scenery and wildlife. As a retired teacher, Tom loves teaching people who are interested in learning about a field that he is very excited about. You can see examples of Tom’s photographic work at www.timenspace.net
Barb has been guiding for Rainbow Glacier Adventures for 14 summers. She can usually be found guiding walking tours, but has also done van tours to the State Parks, Taste of Haines, and any other tours that involve sharing this beautiful town with tourists. Barb has been in Alaska 42 years and in Haines for the past 25 years. She especially loves the history of Haines and its surroundings and never tires of talking about Haines and all it has to offer. Now retired from a nursing career and from the Haines Borough Public Library Barb is now an off season volunteer at the school, for Haines Hospice and the library.
Dena is a retired Pathologist who has been a summertime visitor of Haines since 2006, and as of April 2012 owns a house in downtown Haines. She does return to Maryland in time to watch her daughter(s) play college lacrosse and basketball. Dena has won numerous ribbons in competitions at her camera club in Maryland, as well as ribbons in the Southeast Alaska State Fair. Her passion with Haines, photography, and teaching is a great mixture for being a photo-tour guide, and she has happily been guiding with Rainbow Glacier Adventures since 2012.
Carolyn has been guiding for Rainbow Glacier Adventures since 2010. She guides nature tours and an occasional historical tours. Her background is in science, engineering, and education. Carolyn loves guiding because, “it is always a great pleasure to help our visitors get a closer experience of Haines and its magnificent surroundings!”
Eric Kocher first traveled to Alaska, camping on the deck of the Alaska State Ferry Columbia in 1975 and has been a regular visitor to both Alaska and the Yukon until he moved to Haines, Alaska in 2007. His attraction to the last frontier has given him the opportunity and privilege to hike, bike, climb, raft and kayak throughout Alaska and the Yukon. Four times he has competed in the Yukon River Quest, the world’s longest canoe and kayak race, from Whitehorse to Dawson in the Yukon Territory. Eric has six years of experience as a raft and kayak guide. He has guided trips to Glacier Bay National Park and throughout the northern Lynn Canal of Alaska’s panhandle. Eric has a long history as a photographer. Photographs of his climb of Mt. McKinley appeared in newspapers in Georgia. His first published photograph, in the Washington Post, was of Senator Robert Kennedy dedicating a memorial to President Kennedy at American University. More recent photographs have appeared in the Chilkat Valley News. His photographs hang on the walls of the American Legion, Captain’s Choice Motel, and offices in Juneau and Haines. Eric currently serves as a board member of the KHNS, the public radio station serving Haines, Skagway and Klukwan, and the Hammer Museum in Haines.
Byrne Power grew up in California, lived 16 years in New York City and then in 1996 mysteriously packed his 11,000 pound library of books and records (old school vinyl black platters) and shipped them in a container to Haines, Alaska, whereupon he became the Program/Music Director of local Haines NPR affiliate KHNS for 9 years. For the last ten years Byrne has spent his summers working with visitors in Haines, assisting them on raft trips and in finding wildlife. Byrne now works behind the scenes taking reservations, as well as driving and guiding several of our tours. In the off season? He’s a puppeteer, novelist, filmmaker, music historian, teacher, artist seeking to create and fund a variety of unclassifiable projects. You can read his essays on The Anadromous Life and Gravity From Above websites.
Jared Mixon began guiding in the Chilkat River Valley in 2005. He is originally from Fairbanks, AK and loves studying the history and culture of Alaska (aka “Seward’s Icebox”). He received Outdoor Leadership Training with the Outdoor Adventure Program in Stillwater, OK and spent every available moment leading backpacking, climbing and rafting trips for youth and young adults. After 10 years of wandering through universities both here and abroad, Jared finally earned a degree in Applied Physics at Oklahoma State University. While there, he met a nice Oklahoma girl and somehow convinced her to move up to Alaska. They now live and teach with their two kids in Chefornak, a small Yup’ik Eskimo village on the coast of the Bering Sea. Jared takes advantage of his summer vacation days by getting out on the river and into the woods as much as possible.
Rachel Deehan was born in a small town in Scotland but moved away to America when she was quite young. She became interested in photography while hiking the Sierra Nevada mountains as a child, the Sierras instilled in her a love of nature and landscapes that encouraged her pursuit of photography. She studied at the Brooks Institute of Photography in Santa Barbara where she concentrated on the scientific aspects of photography, recording what the eye can not see. Since graduating she has pursued alternative shooting and printing styles such as tintype and palladium platinum printing. When lacking inspiration she returns to mountain lakes and forest trails where her passion was first discovered.
Julie arrived in Southeast Alaska in 1972 aboard the F/V Transition commercially fishing for salmon and halibut. Fishing during the school off-season, Julie taught elementary school until retiring in 1999. She recently retired again after a short career as a pediatric developmental specialist. Backcountry skiing, exploring alpine ridges, sport fishing, kayaking and gardening fill in her time when not sharing her love of Haines and the Chilkat Valley as a wilderness guide.
Michelle, the Operations Manager for Rainbow Glacier Adventures, was born and raised in Washington State. She received her BA in Psychology and Sociology from Linfield College where she met her husband, Mark. They lived in several states before coming to his native state of Alaska in 1992. Over the years Michelle ran a Licensed Home Child Care, worked as a Special Education Paraeducator, a Case Manager for a local counseling center and homeschooled her daughter at the family’s off-the-grid log cabin home near Haines. On a typical day she commutes to work by hiking a mile through the woods and crossing a tidal basin in rubber boots or with a kayak to get to her car to drive past the Rainbow Glacier on the way to town.
Don Poling is a fourth generation Alaskan, born in Sitka. He has lived in Haines for 20 years. His mother’s grandfather was in the Nome gold rush of 1900 and members of his family have been in Alaska ever since. He grew up in a series of Alaska Native villages where his parents were teachers. He is a graduate of Alaska Methodist University, with degrees in sociology/ anthropology and education. He has a MS degree in cross cultural education studies and a doctorate in instructional systems technology from Indiana University. In 2011 he compiled a book about an Alutiiq Aleut village where his parents taught school, titled “Chenega Diaries” which was published by a nonprofit cultural heritage foundation (Chenega Futures, Inc.). Don is currently working on a comprehensive history of his family in Alaska.
Don and his wife, Dottie, worked as naturalist guides for the U.S. Forest Service on the Alaska Marine Highway system between 1999 and 2005 and has been giving presentations on Alaska cultural history topics for Elderhostel’s Road Scholar program since 2003. He began doing historical walking tours of Haines and Ft. Seward for Rainbow Glacier Adventure Tours in 2015.
In 1977, Ellen Larson arrived in Haines as a first year school teacher from R.I. Although she only planned to stay for a year, 1 year turned into 23- She really fell for the Haines community and the surrounding natural splendor (not to mention Larry, the man she met here who she has been married to for 36 years!). In 2000 Ellen had the opportunity to teach at Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff – an incredible experience. She retired from NAU in 2015, and is now living in Haines and teaching online classes for the University of Alaska at Anchorage. The 2016 season was Ellen’s first season working with RGA. She really enjoys doing the Historic Walk Around Town Tours.