Our Guides

Our guides are what make our company so extraordinary. Take a tour with us and you’ll be inspired by your guide’s passion and knowledge. Our guides spend all day everyday in the rainforest of Southeast Alaska. They truly value the opportunity to share this precious place with you, here, where daily life and breath-taking nature still exist hand in hand.

A guide’s knowledge stems from simple, pure enthusiasm and appreciation for this magnificent place we call home. Coming from varied experiences and walks of life, each guide completes our annual Spring training. They immerse themselves in workshops, trail sessions, discussions, and books about Juneau’s natural and cultural histories. Many guides also complete a 20 hour course with the State of Alaska to become Certified Interpretive Guides. Each guide then adds his or her specific areas of interest, expertise, style and personal stories.

Truly believing in the privilege and importance of sharing Southeast Alaska’s nature with other people, many of our guides hit the local trails and waterways with visitors year after year. Our small company is a close-knit family of outdoor enthusiasts, nature lovers, whale whisperers, photographers and local history buffs. We hope you will connect with our family, in some small yet significant way. Step Into Alaska with one of our guides below…

Aleta Walther, Naturalist Guide

“Whalicious” fun and frolic is how I describe my job as a naturalist and interpretive guide for Gastineau Guiding Company. I enjoy sharing the cultural and natural histories and the mysteries and magnificence that make a trip to Alaska a unique adventure. Alaska’s vibrant landscape, meandering waterways and spine-tingling wildlife encounters are beyond “Wow ”. I look forward to summers of spine-tingling adventures throughout the Tongass National Forest and the waterways of the Inside Passage.🙂

 

Amanda Duffin, Naturalist Guide

Originally from California, I fell in love with a Juneauite at Humboldt State University in the redwoods of Northern California and have not been able to stay away from Juneau since.  There is no landscape or community quite like it. I enjoy hiking, backpacking, biking, skiing, and kayaking.  Any day outdoors or on the water is a good day.  I’m thrilled to call Juneau home and share its beauty and wonder with others.

Amy Balagna, Office Manager

I moved to Alaska the day after completing my degree in Archaeology from the University of Nevada. Alaska has given me so much more than I could ever give back; my love of nature, the love of my life Josiah, and our beautiful daughter Clara. I’m excited to rejoin the Gastineau team after we decided Juneau is the perfect place to raise our family.

Andra Martin, Driver Guide

I am an Alaska Native, Tlingit, one of the three tribes here in Southeast Alaska. I was born in Juneau and raised in a village southwest from here called Kake, Alaska. My family originates from Glacier Bay. I have my degree in Elementary Education and work for the local school district. I was raised by my Aunts and Grandmother where I learned from them the ways of my people.

Annette Smith, Boat Captain

Lifelong Alaskan and mother to an awesome son. I’m a scuba diver extraordinaire – underwater photographer and videographer.  In fact, I was the first person in Juneau to become certified for advanced trimix diving. I love wrecks and walls and have been known to pirate old bottles and steamship pottery from diving the downtown Juneau docks, and even to serve the occasional dinner or a proper tea on old steamship dinnerware. I retired after 33 years in the IT field and now I get to do what I wanted to do all my life.  I cannot think of a better way to spend my retirement than sharing the amazing cold water oceans and all of it’s beauty with you!

Annie Goodenough, Boat Captain

Ashlynn Antoni, Director of Sales and Marketing

In 2011, I came to Alaska with plans to work a seasonal position, and when the adventure was over I was off to the next new and exciting experience.  I’m still waiting to get my fill of Juneau.  Around every corner I am continually in awe of Alaska’s nature, and inspired by the incredibly kind and welcoming people. I feel so lucky to be a part of a community that strives to share the beauty of our home with visitors as well as help connect them to the magic which continues to call us back year after year.

Bob Janes, Owner / Operator

I have lived in Juneau since 1965. With my wife Dawn, we founded our little interpretive company in 1994 as a way to keep fit and stay in touch with nature’s lessons. In the summer, our guests are likely to find me roaming the trails with my camera, piloting a safari vessel, or sharing stories about Juneau with visitors on the dock.

Cam Byrnes, Naturalist Photo Guide / Driver Trainer

Born “outside” I moved to Alaska in 1974 and have never wanted to make my home anywhere else. I have been involved with photography for 40 years and have been leading tours in Juneau for 15 years. The two go together perfectly. Leading tours lets me share this wonderful place with our guests and keeps me on the trails and on the water during our long summer days. I like to travel and take pictures around the world but I’ll never run out of things to photograph here in Juneau.

David Thomson, Naturalist Guide

Juneau has been my home since 1983. Originally from the Maryland/D.C. area, moved north after graduating college in Iowa figuring that if it didn’t work out, I could always move back to the Lower 48. Landed work with the State of Alaska in finance and spent 31 years with the last 14 managing the money for the Division of Wildlife Conservation within the Department of Fish and Game, retiring in 2015. I contacted Gastineau Guiding before retiring; what could be better than to go hiking and share my love of this area with visitors. I hope you savor your time in Alaska, once you have been here; a little part of you never goes home.

Dawn Wolfe, Owner / Operator

My two week vacation to Juneau in 1980 still hasn’t ended. I’ve somehow managed to become the company’s administrative lifeline. When not playing softball, working in the yard, or enjoying the outdoors with our twins, I’m likely to be planning our next company party, or buried in piles of paperwork at our downtown office.

Dirk Miller, Naturalist Guide

As a local teacher I’ve always had a passion for sharing the outdoors with my students and now guests visiting our great city. I’ve done a lot throughout my teaching career; from establishing active clubs and educational field trips, to raising grant money to provide materials such as bikes for kids. I’ve created programs that establish leadership, healthy habits, and overall provide a safe and exciting learning environment for students. I love my job and was recently recognized by Discovery Southeast (organization promoting education and nature exploration for kids in Southeast Alaska) with the 2019 Discovery Award. I’m super excited to spend another summer with Gastineau Guiding and share the many reasons I love Juneau.

Dylan Olp, Naturalist Guide

My name is Dylan and I am from Asheville, North Carolina. What inspired me to move 3,000 miles away was the idea of living amongst the Alaskan outdoors for an entire summer. I enjoy hiking, kayaking and skiing in the winters

E.J. Stokes, Naturalist Guide

I arrived in Juneau in 1980, raised my daughter here, and Alaska become my home.  Trails, Wildlife, and Sailing completed my connection to the emerald rainforest.   I am looking forward to a  summer of adventure introducing guests to Alaska which holds so much wonder for us all.

Ed “Grizz” Grossman, Boat Captain

Resident of Juneau for more than 30 years. I’ve worked as a biologist, a diver, public lands manager, hunting guide, and boat captain. I have experience on the waters of the inside passage, gulf of alaska, aleutians and a few rivers. I’m 2/3’s Irish so sometimes full of Blarney and purports as the Mayor of Sphun Island where I live with my girlfriend, Laurie. The Nickname “Grizz” is associated with guiding, grizzled appearance, and possibly disposition.

Fred Hiltner, Lead Boat Captain

My love for the ocean began as a young child exploring the beaches of the Atlantic, usually being late for dinner because there were just so many things to see, hear, feel, and taste.    There is a mystery there, in the ever-changing nature of the ocean, that draws me close, and has been the impetus for many trips ocean kayaking, canoeing, surfing, and sailing to explore that mystery.  It was the amazing interaction of the mountains, glaciers, and ocean that drew me to Juneau, and still keeps me here.  So often I catch myself shaking my head in wonder at how there could be such a beautiful place to live.

Ian Duncan, Naturalist Science Guide

I’ve been immersed in the outdoors since I was a wee baby in my dad’s backpack. From those early days, I’ve explored every corner of land and sea that I’ve been able to reach. From working as a deckhand in the Caribbean, to backcountry skiing in Washington. My degree in Marine Science has been a great benefit here in Juneau, and I can’t wait, and I can’t wait to share this phenomenal local environment with you!

Jen Levy, Boat Captain

Jim Schell, Boat Captain

June Bunch, Naturalist Science Guide

Originally from St. Petersburg, Florida, June followed her sense of wonder and collected new hometowns wherever inspiration beckoned. From Yellowstone to Taos, Moab to Maui, she coaxed her curiosity into exploring and learning, eventually landing her in Juneau where she gets to meet you and share the wonders of this magical landscape! 

Keith Pahlke, Naturalist Guide

I am a retired fish biologist from Colorado and have lived in Alaska for the past 35 years. I love animals of all sorts and even owns 7 pets ranging from dogs to snakes and lizards.

Laurie Clough, Naturalist Guide

Linda Nicklin, Training Manager / Naturalist Guide

As Director of our in-house training program it is my job to help insure the quality of our tours by providing guide training in natural history, cultural history, and interpretive skills. Gastineau Guiding’s commitment to quality has kept me coming back for more than twenty years!  When not working for the company, I teach, author books and act as a naturalist in various parts of the world. I also work with a humpback whale research project in Maui called Whale Trust. I feel fortunate to have a job that allows me to support our guides in creating the best possible experience for each visitor, and one which is the source of such inspiration and joy.

Maggie Pierce, Naturalist Guide

Born and raised in Alabama, I’ve moved throughout the country getting my degree in colorado and ski bumming in Utah! I’m so excited to be in Alaska now to share my passion for loving and learning about natural history. When I’m not guiding you can find me climbing, hiking, kayaking, and eating nachos.

Marc Mintz, Naturalist Photography Guide

Born and raised in southern California, I traded a life in a cubicle implementing environmental policy for a life with a camera having real experiences with the people and environment around me, and never once looked back.  I came to Juneau for the summer of 2019 and never left.  (It happens a lot around here.)  I’m excited to show you a few reasons why.

Max MaManis, Naturalist Guide

I am from Minneapolis, MN and attended college at Eckerd College in St. Petersburg, Florida. From driving wakeboarding trips, sailing the caribbean, to spending summers whale watching in Alaska’s, I’m always looking for the next adventure. I hop I can share some great adventures and experiences with all of you!

Megan Myslinski, Operations Manager

When I first got to Alaska, I felt like I had finally come home.  I grew up as a Navy brat and then  pursued a career in recreational tourism. That nomadic lifestyle had brought me to all seven continents in my quest for a forever home. I did my first Alaskan summer season in 2016 and I had been trying to be a full-time resident ever since. I am so lucky to have fulfilled my dream as Gastineau Guiding’s Operations Manager. I am continually astonished by the jaw-dropping beauty in Juneau’s nature and I feel so privileged to share my home and knowledge with fellow adventure-seekers. 

Michael LaMonica, Boat Captain

After the Coast Guard stationed me in Sitka and then Juneau Alaska, I decided I really didn’t want to live anywhere else and have worked on a variety of boats including the Alaskan ferries and a passenger ferry contracted to a local mine. Now I am raising two sons while getting to share the beauty and history of ‘my backyard’ as a boat captain at Gastineau Guiding.

Mike Eberhardt, Naturalist Guide

I am a 3rd generation Juneauite that still has an appreciation for our great environment!  I have recently left a 30 year career with Alaska State Parks and am looking forward to continuing my career in outdoor education with Gastineau Guiding.

Mike Hekkers, Lead Naturalist Guide

I left Colorado in the late 1990s to find a bigger and wilder place. Alaska fit that bill, and Juneau became my home base with a ski area, glaciers, water access, and a great community. After my mortgage banking career, I wanted to turn my love of mountaineering into a vocation especially after naturalist guiding in Denali National Park. I have a masters in geography (glaciology) and have instructed environmental science and geography courses at UAS for six years. I enjoy taking cabin trips and family adventures in the state. In the winter I can be found striding on Juneau’s cross country ski trails.

Nick Karr, Naturalist Photo Guide

I was born in Fairbanks Alaska but grew up in Southern California. I surfed, snorkeled and hiked around California and Baja from a young age and developed a love for being outdoors and respect for animals and the environment. Coming to Juneau is a chance to explore a new environment and feels like I’m coming back home.

Phil Gutleben, Naturalist Guide

After a long and varied job history in the private and public sectors, I have found the ideal encore career as a naturalist guide for Gastineau Guiding. With a background in science education I love the outdoors and all things Alaska, my adopted home. I am enthusiastic about sharing my knowledge and experiences with visitors.

Raechel Vecchio, Naturalist Photography Guide

After graduating college I moved to New Zealand where I fell in love with traveling and exploring new places. Experiencing so many new places led me to my love for photography. Throughout my travels I developed a new perspective on seeing the world around me, which greatly enhanced my photography. There is something magical about capturing a moment that you are able to relive over and over. I have now landed my dream job as a photography guide here in Juneau! I am so excited to share the passion I have for the world and photography with you all!  Peace, love and light!

Richard Stokes, Lead Naturalist Guide

As a retired chemist, I have worked with the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation and I enjoy sharing a bit of my local knowledge. My summer days on the trails have lowered my cholesterol 30 points and kept my weight at a lean and mean (well, never mind).

Robie Janes, General Manager

Scott Ranger, Lead Naturalist Guide

I came to visit my daughter and son in law in the summer of 2008 for a month. It rained the whole time and I’ve been in love with the place ever since! I love to share my passion for the natural environment with others — whether running a nature center, working as a Park Ranger, or hiking the trail with guests. If I’m not hiking the trails in Juneau you can find me in Georgia editing the newsletter for the Southern Appalachian Botanical Society or heading up a team for Habitat Humanity in southern Africa with my wife.

Sophia Vancouver, Naturalist Photography Guide

I discovered a true love of the outdoors though my camera lens eleven years ago. Since then, I’ve traveled all over the states until finally landing in Juneau, Alaska where I get to soak up everything I love on a daily basis. From the water and whales to the mountains and eagles, I feel so lucky to be here and I’m excited to share that with friends and visitors alike.

Theresa Miller, Naturalist Guide

I’ve lived in Juneau over forty years, married and raised two adults sons. I was as stay at home mom and homeschooled my boys from crib to college. In 2020, I retired from teaching and now spend winters traveling in the southwest visiting National Monuments, parks & hiking, during the summers I love gardening, hard scraping, hiking & fly fishing.