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Our Guides

a person sitting in a boat on a body of water

Sophia Rouches • Owner • Guide (she/her)

Sophia was born and raised in the pacific northwest, where she splits her time between the mountains and the sea. Her early years were spent exploring the nooks and crannies of the Snoqualmie Valley, before moving to Bellingham to attend Western Washington University where she earned a degree in Environmental Education. During these years she spent summers in Oregon as a white water raft guide and her passion for guiding evolved. She spent many years working as an environmental educator, a naturalist, a server, a farmworker and a handful of other odd jobs that allowed her to spend as much time as possible outside. When she found Moondance, she didn’t expect it to grasp a hold on her life in the ways that it did. Blending her passions of kayaking, guiding, marine ecosystems, and education, Moondance quickly became a large part of her life. The other half of her life is found in the mountains where she works as a professional big mountain skier. She’s spends the winter chasing snow, pushing her skiing and building relationships with the brands she represents. When the opportunity came to  become the new owner of Moondance, it felt only natural for her to carry the paddle onwards. The mix of her experience as a professional skier and a long time guide allows her to see the value of working with community, managing a widespread of risks, and building memorable experiences outdoors. As owner, she will continue to ensure that Moondance provides meaningful and premier sea kayak experiences in the Bellingham area and San Juan Islands. 

a person standing next to a body of water

Kristi Kucera • Previous owner • Guest Guide (she/her)

Kristi was born and raised in Salt Lake City, Utah where she spent her childhood playing in the Wasatch Mountains. When she was younger she had the opportunity to spend summers in the San Juan Islands of Washington State, where her love of the Pacific Northwest began. In 2009 she received a Bachelor’s of Science from the University of Utah in Parks, Recreation and Tourism with an emphasis on Adventure and Outdoor Programming and Environmental Education. Kristi spent 3 months in Baja, Mexico with National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS) which included a month long sea kayaking expedition in the Sea of Cortez. Besides Baja, has spent time in over 30 foreign countries and loves a good adventure! She has served as an AmeriCorps member, worked as a naturalist, a ski instructor, bike/ski/snowboard mechanic, snow-cone specialist, sailing + kayak instructor and spent her fair share of time working in the big world of outdoor retail. Kristi has taught and guided sea kayaking to people 4 years old and up to 80 and loves working with people of different backgrounds and experiences. Kristi now serves as an executive board member for Recreation Northwest, a local Bellingham non-profit and is a member of the American Outdoors Association. When Kristi is not in her “Moondance” kayak or behind the desk booking tours, you can find her teaching sea kayaking to Western Washington University students, skiing Mt Baker, mountain biking, traveling with her spouse and daughter, frying up a breakfast miracle, spending time with friends and family or paddling some of the worlds most beautiful rivers.

a dog wearing a hat

Laura Jackson • Super Guide (she/her)

Laura grew up in the Green Mountains of Vermont, where she spent much of her childhood romping through the hardwood forests, scrambling up mountains and exploring the local rivers and lakes in kayak or canoe. In 2014, Laura obtained her B.S. in Environmental Studies at the University of Vermont, where she quickly found her niche in outdoor education. She spent weekends leading camping overnights and whitewater kayak trips and summers backpacking with groups of incoming freshman as an orientation leader. Laura’s affinity for adventure and desire to share the outdoor experience with others soon led her beyond the borders of New England. She worked as a climbing counselor in the High Sierras of California, spent a month teaching permaculture and farm-based education in Ecuador, taught adaptive skiing in Montana and continues to lead seasonal backpacking trips in Washington and New Mexico. Since moving to Bellingham in 2015, Laura has worked as a sailing & paddling instructor for the Community Boating Center and as a three-year mentor/program coordinator for Wild Whatcom. She’s thrilled to be kicking off her second guiding season with Moondance this spring! When not on the water, Laura can be found cooking dinners with friends, chasing butterflies for citizen science and mountain biking in as many new places as possible throughout the PNW.

a man riding a snowboard down a snow covered mountain

Amber Barnes • Super Guide (she/her)

Amber Barnes Super GuideLike half of Bellingham, Amber is a Midwestern transplant. She spent her formative years getting dirty on her grandmother’s farm in good ole’ Minnesota. As a child, Amber found her passion for being on the water while exploring the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. After ten years of annual trips, she was lucky enough to call the remote wilderness home in 2014, working as an expedition guide. While studying Outdoor Recreation Leadership and Management in Marquette, MI, Amber began sea kayak guiding at Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore. The beauty of the painted sandstone cliffs, intricate sea caves, and vibrant Lake Superior sunsets kept Amber guiding at PRNL for three summer seasons. Also during her time at Northern Michigan University, Amber taught rock climbing, practiced wilderness medicine, and served as the Coordination and Organization intern for the increasingly popular Michigan Ice Fest. For her last great Midwestern adventure, Amber was asked to return to NMU to co-instruct the ORLM program’s Wilderness Stewardship course; a 14-day backpacking trip through some of the last old growth forests in Michigan. But alas, after the course concluded, she was on to newer (and saltier!) waters. In Bellingham, you can find Amber playing outside. She is happiest clinging to a cliff face, sliding on snow, tearing up the trails, or sipping coffee from the cockpit of a kayak. Amber has been with Moondance since 2018 and excited for another season!

a man standing on top of a mountain

Casey Rothlisberger • Super Guide (he/him)

Casey grew up on San Juan Island before moving to the “big city” of Bellingham, which is odd, considering he sometimes feels more at home in the woods than in the city. For five summer seasons, Casey worked as a sea-kayak guide in the San Juan Islands. Two years ago, Casey and his partner completed a sea-kayak trip up the Inside Passage, all the way to Alaska! After that trip, Casey thought he was done with kayaking, but boy was he wrong. The salty waters and rocky coastlines of the Salish Sea leave so much to be explored, and he just had to get back into a kayak. So, while this is his first season with Moondance, he is very familiar with sea-kayaking and the Salish Sea. Casey loves to learn and share interesting facts about the marine life we are so fortunate to share our backyard with.

a person driving a car

Sharmon Hill • Founder • Super Guide (she/her)

Sharmon, founder of Moondance Sea Kayak Adventures, discovered the enchantment of sea kayaking in the early 1980’s. Learning by “the seat of her pants” she crafted her skills then in 1992 began guiding for the Whatcom County Parks and Recreation Outdoor program. Her calm and welcoming leadership style was warmly received by the community so after a full season leading trips for the outdoor program, she had the confidence to launch her own company. In the summer of 1993, Moondance was fully underway. Sharmon’s passion for the marine environment was contagious and for the next 20 years she shared her navigational expertise, extensive knowledge of natural history and native lore over thousands of miles of coastline exploration. She never tired of repeatedly paddling the same shoreline as the dance of the tides with the moon presented an ever changing environment of adventure, wonder and new surprises from whelks to whales. The company continued to grow as she successfully led trips in the San Juan Island’s of Washington, Barkley and Clayoqout Sounds of British Columbia, and the Sea of Cortes in Baja, Mexico. She recently found a kindred water spirit in Kristi Kucera and is thrilled to “pass the paddle” to her. Looking forward to paddling with familiar faces as well as newcomers she will continue guiding for Kristi whenever the opportunity presents itself offering her experience and abilities that have made Moondance one of the premier kayak companies in the Pacific Northwest.