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 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, a wonderful community, and my beautiful daughter Clara. I’m excited to rejoin the Gastineau team after we decided Juneau is the perfect place to raise my family.

Andra Martin, Driver Guide

I am an Alaska Native, Tlingit, one of the three tribes in Southeast Alaska. I was born in Juneau and raised in a village southwest from here called Kake. 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 head off to the next new and exciting experience.  Yet, to this day, I’m still waiting to get my fill of Juneau.  At every turn, I find myself captivated by the breath-taking beauty of Alaska, and inspired by the incredibly kind and welcoming people. Being part of such a vibrant, engaged, and compassionate community is truly a privilege.

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.

Derek Mason, Boat Captain

Derek spends most of his time on the water, both as a whale watching captain as well as a commercial fisherman. He loves Southeast Alaska and is excited to share the waterways with you! 

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.

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, Lead 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, Lead 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.

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.

Michael LaMonica, Boat Captain

After the Coast Guard stationed me in Sitka and then Juneau, Alaska, I decided I didn’t want to live anywhere else. I have worked on a variety of boats including the Alaskan ferries and a passenger ferry contracted to a local mining company. 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 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, Lead Naturalist Photo Guide

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

Phil Gutleben, Naturalist Guide

After a long and varied job history in the private and public sectors, I 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.

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

I grew up in Juneau and love everything it has to offer.  When out of the office during the summer, you can find me out hiking, boating, or camping with friends.  During the winter I’ll be up at Eaglecrest, our local ski area.  I started working at Gastineau Guiding at 14 and for a couple years the most common question I would get was if I was legally old enough to work here.  I graduated from Washington State University with a business degree but after I couldn’t stay away from Alaska.  My favorite part about working at Gastineau Guiding are the enthusiastic, outgoing, and friendly employees that make this company Juneau’s premier whale watching and guiding company. 

Scott Ranger, Lead Naturalist Guide

I came to Juneau to visit my daughter and son-in-law in the summer of 2008. 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 Habitat Humanity team in Southern Africa with my wife.

Theresa Miller, Naturalist Guide

I’ve lived in Juneau over 40 years, where I married and raised two sons. I was a 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 and hiking national monuments and parks. During the summers I love to hike, fly fish and garden, including adding hardscape.