Mariah Wilderness Expeditions Guides and Staff
Nikki has been Mariah’s Operation Manager for the last 10 years, and has worked as a river guide for Mariah for 25 years. Hailing from Australia, where she completed her college degree in outdoor education, she is an accomplished river & ocean kayaker, skier, snowboarder, surfer, & bicyclist. She has spent years being a Tour Guide in Belize, Costa Rica, Peru, and other far-flung places in the world. She has rafted the Colorado River in the Grand Canyon, as well as other BIG WATER rivers throughout the world.
Melissa hails from West Virginia and the east coast rivers, such as the Gauley, the New, Arkansas, Royal Gorge, Cheat, Youghigeny, and in California the Kaweah, Merced, Tuolumne, and many, many more rivers throughout the U.S., including the Colorado River in the Grand Canyon. She is one of Mariah’s Head Guides, and those of you who have been in her boat know that this petit woman really knows the rivers. She lives in Tahoe when not rafting, and excels at skiing, expert snowboarding, paddle boarding, river & sea kayaking. She is also a college graduate and has worked as a bartender.
Irish (David) Anderson
Irish is now the “most requested” guide at Mariah. We are so fortunate to have him. He has guided rivers all over the world. Irish has guided all 3 Forks of the American with us. He’s rafted the Zambezi, White Nile (Africa), Futaleufu (Chili), and on rivers in Uganda, Nepal, New Zealand, and others. When not rafting, hiking, running or mountain biking he is planning self-supported extended motorcycle journeys, such as his trip from California to Patagonia, or Ireland to South Africa. He spends his off-season in Queenstown, NZ working at a friend’s bungee/zip line operation.
Carl is awesome! He’s one of the favorite Mariah guides, often taking his harmonica with him to play in the calm stretches. In addition to rafting, kayaking, expert skiing, snowboarding, sailing, and living close to nature, Carl is also a very accomplished musician. He plays the sax, flute, harmonica, guitar, you name it, he plays it. Sometimes he plays before dinner at the Mariah camp. He often sits in & jams with friends at Marco’s café in Coloma, the Cosmic Café in Placerville, and various other places too numerous to list. He helps with the sound systems at the American River Music Festival. For years he had his own general contractor’s license and built buildings. He is a computer programmer, also, and helped design one of Mariah’s websites.
John has worked at Mariah off and on for years—he always comes back. Those of you who have been in his boat know that he is an expert at providing exciting, safe trips, knows the history of the rivers, and tells great stories about the opening up of the region to gold miners, cattle barons, and more. Some of you have been with him on the Kern River in southern California. He is an experienced landscape contractor, a great team player, and an accomplished trip leader. He hails from Upper New York (I love it when people say “upper”—like that is a very special region). He raised two great kids who have made him a grandfather twice.
Travis came to work at Mariah in 2015 after guiding for over 10 years in Colorado, West Virginia, and the Four Corner area of the U.S. Southwest. He packed up his truck and his dog, Rio, and now spends his summers in Coloma. He is one of our main trip leaders and his years of experience are most valued at Mariah. Travis is very easy going and takes all challenges like the true professional he is. He spends his winter teaching snowboarding at Telluride Resort in Colorado.
Hailing from New Jersey, Will now enjoys the kayaking, rafting, and surfing he has found here in California. This is now his third season at Mariah and he guides both the South & Middle Forks of the American for us. He has guided several trips on the Grand Canyon and is now spending the winters guiding on the North Island of New Zealand; he is also pursuing his love of fly fishing. When Will is not working on the river for Mariah he is often found at the local “river wave” surfing his surfboard.
Anna attended Mariah’s guide school in 2015 and has been a full-time Mariah guide ever since. She is very at home on the river and in the outdoors, having hiked the Appalachian Trail in 2014. Now a big part of the Mariah office staff, she is also taking charge of our social media program. Anna teaches skiing at Telluride Resort in Colorado for the winter. She enjoys all outdoor adventures and travelling to new places when she has time between seasons.
Robin, awesome bus-van-shuttle driver just celebrated her 25th year of working as Mariah’s main river shuttle driver. We gave her a big party! She has driven Mariah buses of all descriptions and sizes, vans of all descriptions and sizes, changed tires, replaced engine fluids, cleaned and vacuumed countless numbers of vehicles, taken loving care of hundreds of guides and thousands of guests over the years. During the winter, she drives school buses for the El Dorado County school district. She also raised a wonderful son.
Also known as “Mustache Mark”, he is fully retired from the telephone company, which is why you have been seeing more of him this season. He has been a part of Mariah for the last several years, and considers river guiding to be a “second career”. He is highly skilled on the river, shares great stories, and involves his guests in the rafting experience. His two grown, handsome sons look just like him and share his love of the river.
Most of you who have called the Mariah office over the past 10 years have had the wonderful opportunity to talk to Melinda; she has helped hundreds and hundreds of Mariah guests plan their summer rafting adventure. She wants you to have the very best experience with us, whether you are a corporate group, a family, a youth group, church group, group of friends, couple, or a single. She also does all of the food-ordering, menu preparations, and supervises the food packing and deliveries to camp.
This is John’s 30th year working with Mariah, both full-time and part-time. In between river trips he has worked in the legal department of the Sacramento Highway Patrol, raised a daughter and son, became a much-loved grandfather, and retired from the Highway Patrol. Every year he and his wife, Lori (another avid Mariah guide) apply for private rafting permits on various rivers throughout the Midwest. He, Lori, Mark Allen, Glenn & Krissi Russell (those of you who rafted with us 15-30 years ago remember them!), and a few others just got back from Idaho’s Middle Fork of the Salmon River. He has led private trips on the Colorado River in the Grand Canyon (where he boogie boarded most of the 259 miles), the Selway, Middle & Main Forks of the Salmon River, Green, Yampa, and many more. His Mariah guests love him.
Kiwi Chris is our happy-go- lucky, easy to be around guide. His passion for river kayaking and rafting is contagious and he has been down most of the “epic runs” found in California. Chris guides all three Forks of the American for Mariah, and we receive wonderful reviews from all of his guests. When he is not guiding he enjoys the Santa Cruz mountains and coast with his wife, Stephanie, and the dogs, Bindy and Jungle.
Faye began her 10-year shuttle driving career with Mariah when, one day, she wandered into the Mariah office looking for a driving job. We scooped her up, told her to not look further, and we’ve treated her like gold ever since. During the fall-winter, she drives school buses for Gold Trail school district. She, along with her husband Lee, also raises horses, chickens, goats, and other farm animals.
Lori is the high-energy redhead who can often be seen being followed by Pepper, her black & white small mixed, short-haired, friendly doggy. Years ago, she met her husband, John Markey, on a Mariah river trip, they got married, she graduated from a Mariah guide school, and their life together has been an exciting journey every since (well, it was before that, too). She raised a beautiful daughter, had a successful career as a training manager for a large computer systems firm, and now includes yoga instruction as one of her many interests. She is a great leader and a great team player.
Heidi is yet another guide from the Mariah guide school of 2015. When she is able to fit us in to her hectic schedule as a mother of 2 beautiful girls, she guides the South Fork for Mariah. Growing up in Auburn, she has a degree in Liberal Arts that she obtained from Sierra College. Her joyful energy and love of the great outdoors make her a valuable asset to our team. When not guiding or being a mother, she enjoys rafting, hiking, kayaking, and mountain biking with her husband, Cory who also guides at Mariah.
Cory is one of our few locally born & bred river guides, an excellent example of the people-quality in the hills & mountains around Coloma. He graduated from the Mariah guide school many years ago, and has been on the rivers since then. He’s a regular on the Middle Fork and South Fork; he kayaks big Class IV+ & V rivers. Oh, and he and his wife, Heidi, just had their second child, daughter Zoe, this October. He is an avid bicyclist, winter river boater (brrrrr), & whitewater kayaker. Go to YouTube and watch his video of the Upper Klamath, a private trip that Cory, Kevin, Carl, Will, & Gordie took late August. Whew!!
Donna turned her river rafting hobby into a business in 1982. It has been a wild ride ever since. With the help of loyal friends, loyal staff, ongoing education to learn business procedures, Mariah has become the company it is today. It takes a “team” to build a river rafting company, and a big thank you goes to everyone who has been a part of the team. She has rafted rivers throughout the U.S. including the Grand Canyon about 8 times, as well as rivers in Costa Rica, and Peru. She has years of skiing, sea kayaking, hill-walking, backpacking, and sailing under her belt (belt?).