River Guide Quickfire: Meet the Queen of the Rogue River
Name: Kate Wollney
Nickname: Queen of the Rogue
Hometown: LaGrange Park, IL
River Role: OARS.’ Oregon Area Manager and Rogue River guide
Tell us about your first experience on a river?
When I was 14 my parents took us on our first and only camping trip to run the Rogue River. It was the first time I felt at home.
How did you become a rafting guide and why do you continue to do it?
At age 16, I traveled to Oregon for a 14-day guide school on the North Umpqua, Klamath and Rogue Rivers. But then I went home and stayed in Illinois until I finished college. In 1993, I moved to Oregon to become a guide. I continue guiding because I love using a wide variety of skills every day: communication, physical, planning, people, problem-solving, etc.
What’s your favorite river-related activity?
I love hiking up side creeks to waterfalls because they are magical.
What role do rivers play in your life?
Rivers keep me balanced.
Are you the rapids or the raft?
I am the dancer. I try to make my raft dance with the rapids.
If you could communicate one thing about the importance of rivers, what would it be?
We cannot take our rivers for granted. We need to make lifestyle choices off the river that help keep rivers healthy. We must consume less or eventually all the beauty of the river and its ecosystem will be used up.
If you could be a river, which one would you be?
The Illinois River in Southern Oregon. In the sunlight, it is the most beautiful place I have ever seen.
What do you do when you’re not guiding?
Miss being on the river.