Cascade Outdoors Staff
Meet our knowledgeable, caring guides
At Cascade Outdoors, we believe the quality of your Ocoee River rafting trip depends upon the skill and experience of your guide and the other staff members on your trip. We are a family-run business, and we know that YOUR Ocoee rafting trip is THE most important rafting trip of the year.
Nothing can ruin a rafting trip like feeling you're being rushed down the river or having an inexperienced or uncaring guide. By the same token, you can't have fun if you're scared or feel unsafe. Therefore, we feel it is important that all of our guides have the necessary training and experience to confidently and knowledgably guide you down the river. We hold our guides to the highest standards: every single one of our employees boasts an impressive whitewater resume before we even hire them; then, they must complete one of the most rigorous on-water training programs in place at the Ocoee River; and, finally, they must complete a state-approved First Aid, CPR, and/or Wilderness First Responder training course. Guides receive further instruction in dealing with youth, international, and special needs rafters.
In addition to all this, we are implementing a swiftwater rescue training module to enhance river safety for our guides, our guests, and everyone else on the Ocoee River. When you choose Cascade Outdoors for your Ocoee River rafting trip, you know that you'll be cared for by a knowledgeable, clean-cut, and caring staff.
Kip Gilliam, Owner
Originally hailing from Possum Trot Kentucky, Kip was born into a family that loves motorsports, music, aviation, and the great outdoors. He has raced cars, motorcycles, and go-karts, including a 1st place win at the famed Talladega Superspeedway. He began mountain biking in the mid-80's when everyone thought that bikes with fat tires were weird. Rock climbed across North America including big wall ascents of El Capitan in Yosemite Valley and the Bugaboos in British Columbia. But it is his love of kayaking that has taken him to four continents in search of great whitewater. From the remote helicopter only access rivers of New Zealand to the Kayaking World Championships in Barcelona Spain, Kip has ran a few rapids. Kip even met his wife Sandy when he was hitchhiking back to his car after kayaking.When he's not working at Cascade you can find him home schooling his two children and of course teaching them about whitewater. His daughter took her first trip down the Ocoee at age 3 paddling her own kayak! Strike up a conversation with him, it's always interesting. A little known fact is that Kip spent several years as a touring musician in a band. Unless you have been living under a rock sheltered from pop culture for the last decade you have heard some of his music.
Amanda Byrd, Marketing Director/Guide
Amanda is the marketing director for Cascade Outdoors. Make sure to tell her how you found out about us and what you think about the newsletters! Amanda also enjoys her time on the water. She has guided on the Ocoee for the last 6 years and enjoys hiking in her off time. She also enjoys taking out her touring kayaks in the swamps back home in New Orleans. She graduated from Louisiana State University in Marketing and has just received her MBA.
Jonathan Shannon, Photographer
Jon is the only photo boater on the Ocoee River. If you want up close and personal pictures, you have to raft with Cascade Outdoors to get them! John takes pictures at rapids that other companies don't have the ability to reach. He has also kayaked in Quebec and Mexico. He has been rafting for the last 6 years and is also an expert fly fisherman, not to mention an 8 year champion wrestler. In his spare time, he attempts not to kill himself while riding his mountain bike on his homemade ramps at the outpost. Jon also majored in fine arts at Brevard College and is currently pursuing a career in photography.
Popcorn has made it to his 11th season on the Ocoee River. He's the guide with the experience you're looking for. He has even rafted the Grand Canyon twice, spending over 60 days on the dangerous waters. Popcorn is also a prize-winning dart thrower as well as a state golden gloves champion! Better not pick a fight with this guy!
Dakota Davis, Guide
Dakota has been working for Cascade Outdoors for 7 years now. When he's not on the water he is a rock-climbing instructor and enjoys refining his roller blading skills. Dakota can also put on quite a show by swinging fire. Come camping with us and maybe if you're lucky he'll show off his skills for you!
Jonathan Bryson, Guide
This is Bryson's 7th season on the river and 5th season at Cascade Outdoors. He truly loves being outside. He was even a high adventure Boy Scout camp leader and made it to the eagle scouts! He also enjoys flying UTC's PT program in the fall.
Lori Beth "LB" Bryson, Guide
LB has been a raft guide for 7 years on the Ocoee and she sure knows her stuff! She's enjoying her new married life with Jonathan Bryson, while living and going to school in Chattanooga. LB enjoys going to concerts and being around the water. LB is our only female trip leader!
Ryan McMurdo, Guide
Ryan has been a guide on the Ocoee for 4 years and has whitewater kayaked for 7 years. He also runs high adventure programs for the Boy Scouts of America. Check him out at Kiakima.com! Ryan loves nontraditional sports such as rock climbing, wake boarding, and snowboarding. Feel free to ask about his winters out West!
Brad King, Guide
Brad has been on the river since 1997. He's guided on the Ocoee the whole time, but has also run ropes courses and horseback riding classes. He's into riding his motorcycle every free second he finds so if you know of any good trails, let him know.
Beth Anne Reed, Guide
Beth Anne enjoys her time on the river, but her true passion is hula hooping. She can do some amazing tricks with those hoops! I'm always amazed when she swings one around her ankle and can keep it going, while swinging one on her hip and another on her arm! Who needs cable at the outpost with entertainment like this?
Sarah Vansandt, Guide
Vans is on her 2nd year on the Ocoee and has been a lifeguard for 5 years doing ocean rescue around Jacksonville Beach, Florida. She also competitively rode horses for 12 years and enjoys snowboarding and skiing whenever possible. When she's not outside she's competing in beauty pageants back home in Florida or perfecting her baking skills! She's excited to be on the Ocoee and is currently learning how to whitewater kayak.
Sam Muller, Guide
Sam has been in whitewater ever since he can remember. He's in his kayak doing tricks anytime he's not rafting or in school at UGA. Sam has kayaked and creek boated all over the US. Ask him about the waterfalls he's kayaked off of! Sam is also very into mountain biking, which is evident from the many battle wounds he ends up with.