Meet Seneca Kristjonsdottir
Seneca has been working at AzRA for a few years now, and she also guides up in Idaho during their rafting season, which means she’s often seen on AzRA trips in the spring and fall. Seneca always has a smile on her face, and is ready to show you a great time in Grand Canyon. She has a fun attitude, and lights up the room wherever she goes. If you have the pleasure of going on a trip with her, you’ll find this to be true too.
Where were you born? Tell us a little about yourself!
I was born in a very small mountain town (complete with gas station and a liquor store) on the Front Range of Colorado. I spent most of my childhood digging holes and practicing walking with barefeet in the woods behind my folks house. My parents started taking my brother and I on river trips when we were young because it was the easiest way to take children into the backcountry.
What’s your history with AzRA?
This is my third season with AzRA. I wanted to start working in Grand Canyon full time, and a guide friend recommended I work with AzRA.
When did you start guiding?
When I was 19 I was in love with someone who was in love with someone else – woof. I ran away to Idaho, accepting a baggage boatman’s position with OARS on the Salmon and Snake rivers as a way to get out of town. Since I had spent a lot of time on the river, and overnight trips already spoke to my heart, it was easy for me to fall in love with the job.12 trips as a baggage boatman later, getting paid $5/day, I started taking folks on my boat as a real river guide. After 12 years working on the Salmon and Snake, while taking trips down the Grand Canyon in the shoulder seasons, I moved to Flagstaff and started working the Grand Canyon full time.
What types of trips do you guide?
I guide row trips. I love that dang AzRA paddle boat!
What are your favorite rapids and why?
Sometimes I am embarrassed to say this outloud, but I love the Bedrock, Deubendorff rapid series. Lots of other guides don’t like these rapids, but I find them so fun and interesting. Unlike other rapids in Grand Canyon, they both require technical moves that take practice and focus. I like the challenge, but I also love this part of the canyon – I am always feeling excited about getting close to Stone Creek, Deer Creek, and Thunder river.
What are your favorite hikes and why?
I love hiking up to Thunder River, I think it is one of the most magical places on earth-a wild oasis in the desert. I also love some of the more technical hikes in the Muav Gorge like Matcat, the top of National, or Tuckup.
Any other interesting facts about yourself you would like guests to know?
In my free time, I run a small, annually printed publication called The Thalweg. We bring together 12-15 creative writers and visual artists who like and work in wild places and publish their work as a collection.
What do you when not guiding at AzRA?
I love to climb, ride my bike, sometimes I go to Mexico to follow a dream where I might learn how to surf, and the rest of my time is spent snuggling with my dog while I read fantasy novels. For work in the off season I manage a science lab that studies honey bees (what I studied in college), I manage The Thalweg, and I work with the Whale Foundation – a local Flagstaff organization that provides mental health support and services to Grand Canyon River Guides.
What do you love about the Canyon and guiding?
Some of my favorite things about working in Grand Canyon: sleeping under the stars, slot canyons, rain storms, chuckwallas, the smell of creosote, big waves, the opportunity to be “out there” for long periods of time and the magic it brings, singing out loud, naps, and hearing everyone’s stories.