Kristi Kucera • Owner • 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.
Sophia Rouches • Super Guide • Operations (she/her)
Growing up in the foothills of the Cascade Mountains, Sophia is a product of the wild land that has raised her. Most of her childhood was spent outside, exploring the mountains, coastlines and rivers of the pacific northwest. Her deep love of being outside and connecting with others led her to earn a degree in Environmental Studies and Education from Western Washington University. During these years, she spent summers in Oregon as a white water raft guide where her passion for guiding evolved. Since then, she’s been working as an environmental educator creating and implementing curriculum for various school programs. Sophia loves sharing her connection to the natural world with those around her. When she’s not teaching, or guiding, you can find her in the mountains pursuing her passion of skiing. Check her out in her latest project, The Approach, ski film. She believes “If there is magic on this planet, it is contained in water” (Loren Eiseley). Sophia has been with Moondance since 2018.
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.
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!
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.
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.
Donal O’Leary • Super Guest Guide (he/him)
Donal O’Leary is a paddler, climber, Emergency Medical Technician, amateur chef, pro-bono bike mechanic, Teaching Assistant, and M.S. Geography graduate from WWU, now tackling his PhD in Washington D.C. After 6 years of building trails and coordinating volunteers in Saguaro, Yosemite, and Rocky Mountain National Parks, Donal completed his Bachelor’s of Science in Watershed Science and GIS at Colorado State University, graduating Magna Cum Laude. His love for these waters dates back to his first memory ever: sitting on his dad’s shoulders watching Orca breach off of San Juan Island. When he isn’t gone boatin’ he might be riding his bicycle through another country (9 so far), learning a new language (Portugese /php), or explaining to his dog-nieces why they can’t have any tortilla chips.