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Aaron and Jonnie Helfrich

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.

Jonnie Helfrich - McKenzie River Rafting Guide

Nate Chestnut

Born and raised on the McKenzie River, Nate grew up with a passion for the water that led him to begin guiding professionally in 2012 after years of trips with family and friends. His personal connection to the river runs long; his first home was on the upper section and another was three houses down from Helfrich Landing. This combination of personal connection and enthusiasm for the outdoors allows Nate to share many unique stories and facts.

When not on the river, Nate keeps himself busy as a full-time student at University of Oregon and as a drummer in at least three local bands.
A fan of traveling, Nate has been to at least 12 countries and most of the states in the US. You are sure to have an exciting trip with this enthusiastic and experienced river rat.

Brian Ward

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 a Special Education Bus Aide 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, and backpacking.

Brian Ward

Ben Demarest

Ben was born in New Jersey and at a young age grew to love the outdoors while learning to fish with his uncle. After moving west, Boise, Idaho became home. Fishing, upland hunting, hiking, biking, ice hockey, and baseball became his life!
In college, he became a whitewater guide on multi-day expeditions on the Snake and Salmon Rivers and even made a few trips down the Grand Canyon.
In 2013, he relocated to Oregon, lives in Springfield and loves the Oregon Life. He works as a construction estimator and owns a residential remodeling company but couldn’t escape the pull to guide on the McKenzie River.
He still absolutely loves to fish, hunt, hike, and enjoys photography. In his spare time, you can find him in his drift boat on the McKenzie with his dog, Nukka. When the winter months keep him, more or less, off the river, he enjoys refereeing youth and adult ice hockey in Eugene and traveling all over the Pacific Northwest.
Ben Demarest

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