Fully Trained McKenzie River Guides
Owners and trip leaders, Aaron and Jonnie Helfrich, met in 1988 on a multi-day trip on the Middle Fork of the Salmon. Five years later, they married. Four years after that, both kids were on the scene, and Jonnie would need to stay home in the summers to raise them. A Helfrich Outfitter LLC was born, because she couldn’t survive a summer without being on a river. Those two kids will soon be running the company.
Born into the most prolific guide family on the McKenzie River, Leah has been on the water since before she was even born. As a fourth generation river guide, her life continually revolves around the river. She has been a whitewater rafting guide since age 16 and has also served as our gear boatman on multi-day trips. On both work and fun trips, she has enjoyed many rivers, including the McKenzie, Willamette, John Day, Rogue, and Middle Fork of the Salmon.
Leah has earned two degrees, a B.S. in Sociology, and an M.A. in Criminology and Criminal Justice. During the off-season, Leah substitute teaches in Lane County and serves as the shooting team coach for Marist Catholic High School her alma mater. When off the water and out of class, Leah enjoys shotgun sports, shooting pool, and country line and swing dancing.
Brian went on his first canoe trip when he was five months old and has been hooked ever since. He has guided trips on the Deschutes, White Salmon, McKenzie and Clackamas Rivers. Sharing his love of rivers with his rafting guests is the best part of being a river guide. He has taken his kayak down the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon and over 40 waterfalls including 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 currently works as an Educational Assistant during the school year. When he’s not on the river, he enjoys climbing mountains (he added Mt. Kilimanjaro to his summit list in 2013), skiing, biking, backpacking and running.
Taylor was born and raised in Huntington Beach, California and grew up a competitive surfer. After moving to Oregon and learning about river surfing, she was instantly hooked. Wanting to spend more time on the river, she began to white water paddle board and raft. She started on the Willamette River and has since been on 12 others in the western United States.
Taylor is currently a student at the University of Oregon studying Human Physiology and competes as a heptathlete for the Ducks’ track and field program. She can be found on the river all year long but also enjoys rock climbing, biking, and cliff jumping.
Her favorite part about being a guide is watching people turn their fear of the river into a life-long admiration. Her youth, love for the water, and enthusiasm is sure to make for a fun trip!
Kenny grew up in Oregon running rivers with his father who was a river guide and renowned wood boat builder. By the age of thirteen, he had conquered several rivers in his inflatable kayak and knew he wanted to guide someday. His favorite memories are on Idaho’s Middle Fork of the Salmon and Oregon’s Deschutes and McKenzie Rivers. In recent years, his focus has been running his drift boat and sharing his passion for fishing with his friends and family.
Kenny studied Forest Management at Central Oregon Community College in Bend Oregon and worked in the aviation industry selling safety equipment for nearly ten years before moving back to Springfield to be closer to his family and his home waters of the McKenzie River. He is looking forward to transitioning his drift boating skills to a raft and chasing thrills with guests this summer.