Meet Haley! Haley has been a raft guide and lead kayak instructor at Wet Planet since 2018. Originally from Pennsylvania, she made her way out west to share her love of whitewater with all levels of kayakers and rafters. During the summer, she can usually be found on the lower Klickitat River, catching eddies and ferrying with new kayakers on Wet Planet’s Beginner Kayaking Courses. If you’ve ever taken a course with Haley, you know that she’s a ray of sunshine with a knack for helping students build skill and comfort on the river. We took the time to do a short interview with Haley so that everyone can get a chance to know this awesome member of the Wet Planet Team!

kayaking instructor

Haley has been a lead instructor at Wet Planet since 2018

Tell us about you! What’s your background?

I grew up in Northeast Pennsylvania, with two other siblings: an older brother and a younger sister. My parents both kayaked and river guided, as well as snowboard and ski instructed. My dad also was a mechanic and commuted to work in Manhattan, NY. Our family was quite “outdoorsy”, especially on the water. We would do raft trips on the weekends and in the summers do multiday canoe trips on the Delaware river with my grandparents and parents’ friends and their kids. The southeast was also a popular destination for us as a family and friends trip- the Nantahala, French Broad, Ocoee, Hiawassee, and Nolichucky rivers. My favorite river trip as a kid was our second trip to Canada for another multiday canoe/portage trip in Algonquin Provincial Park. It was full of sunsets, Common Loons, swimming, wind, and…leeches!

My sister and brother kayaked before me, my sister catching the bug earlier than me. My brother didn’t continue once he got older, but my sister continues to kayak (she is a way better kayaker than I am!). My grandparents would come out on river trips as well, my “pop pop” kayaking in an old school fiberglass boat with one of his handmade wooden paddles, and my grandma in a ducky. My uncle also came kayaking on occasion too. My pop pop and uncles often went climbing and mountaineering, and my sister and I would sometimes go climbing with them. All in all, my childhood was quite packed with being outside and on the water. I feel so fortunate to have had those opportunities early, whereas some people never do, or don’t until later in life.


Haley paddling with her sister, Cara, on the Lower Youghiogheny River in Pennsylvania

What do you do in the winters?

In the winters I either travel or get another job. In 2016 and 2017 I got the opportunity to travel to Pucón, Chile. That was a pretty amazing place and learning experience. The past three winters I have worked in a ski rental shop at Mt. Hood Meadows, the local ski resort in the Columbia River Gorge. I’ve dabbled in snowboard instruction as well, and in the fall seasons I do outdoor environmental education for a few months before switching to winter travel or job. This fall/winter [2020] I am visiting my family and building out a van. This winter I haven’t decided what job I’d like to do…it’s is a weird year for many I think also figuring out the “next” things.

Rio Trancura

Haley paddling the Rio Trancura in Chile

Why do you like rafting and kayaking?

I really enjoy kayaking and teaching it because it allows me to feel like a fish! It is incredibly fun, challenging, scary, and exhilarating. I enjoy teaching because it is something that brings me joy and happiness and confidence, and I want to share that with others. It also helps bring perspective and strength of mind to other parts of my life as well. The river has a lot of life lessons and valuable skills to teach you if you’re willing to learn. I try to show that to our guests when they decide to try the sport out!

kayaking deerfield river

Haley feeling like a fish while running Dragons Tooth rapid on the Deerfield River in Massachusetts

I enjoy rafting because it is the second water craft I went in (canoeing being my first) and so it holds a lot of fond memories. I became a “river guide” in 2013 or so on the Lehigh river where my siblings and mother worked. I worked there for five or six seasons (I lose count) before heading out west in 2017. It is really fun to guide people down a river, especially whitewater, because everyone has different expectations and comfort levels from what mine were. I get enjoyment from their fun and new eyes on a place I’ve been accustomed to for the majority of my life.

guiding white salmon river

Raft guiding on the White Salmon River

Do you have a favorite river?

If I had to pick a favorite river, I feel like most people who know me would know it’s the Ocoee river in eastern Tennessee. It is my all-around favorite because of the fun and perfect length of it. It is also warm water and I am always being shown new lines or spots I didn’t know about before. If I had to pick a river for it’s beauty and scenic value, I would have to say either the Rio Maichin or the Rio Futaleufú in Chile. The Maichin has an amazing gorge you are in the whole time, but the Futa has such blue water and amazing mountains around it.

What do you do for fun when you’re not on the river?

When I am not on the river I am either hanging out with friends, my cat Metlako, doing something outside like biking, hiking for waterfalls, or bouldering. I really enjoy reading and painting as well, and the Netflix haha. I am also a neat and tidy freak and love to reorganize my house and van. I also enjoy guitar but I am really bad at it.

PNW waterfalls

Haley exploring waterfalls! 

What’s your favorite trip or course to work?

My favorite course to work is our partnership with First Descents, which is a non-profit that provides free outdoor adventure experiences for young adults who have been impacted by cancer. It is the highlight of my summers and brings me so much joy to meet and paddle with the folks who come to participate. It is inspiring and also mind opening. We also have a lot of fun, and after it’s over we are often friends with everyone afterwards, and I get to see some of them continue with kayaking! One of our participants from a past summer actually ended up becoming friends with two of my friends in the southeast and now paddles with them. It is a pretty cool thing to see!

Haley teaching First Descents

Haley teaching the basic paddle strokes on a First Descents course!

What’s the coolest river trip you’ve been on?

The coolest personal river trip I have ever been on was the first time I went to the Futaleufú river. It is a bit of story to tell, but as a short summary there was getting lost finding the take outs, late night travel with trailer wheels breaking, flats, car on fire, early morning ferry catching, giant whitewater, riverside hot tub and cabañas, the best star viewing I’ve ever seen, amazing views, and rad people.

haley in chile

In Chile, celebrating at the bottom of a drop

What are you excited about for the 2021 season?

I am excited for the 2021 season First Descents programs we can hopefully run, and rafting with more lots of water in the river(maybe? Rain dance guys!). Seeing my coworkers & friends is another big thing I look forward to since we all part ways in the fall to different adventures. Lastly, to go paddle new rivers and really get to know this amazing place we live in.

Haley & the wet planet team on a staff trip

Haley and the team on Wet Planet’s annual Staff Trip

You can join Haley on a 2- or 3- day Beginner Kayaking CourseNovice or Intermediate Kayaking InstructionPrivate Kayaking Instruction, and half-day or full day rafting trips on the White Salmon River all summer long! You can also check out Haley’s staff bio here.