Meet Jake – Isle Royale Manager, Senior Kayak and MTB Guide, Shop Representative & Shuttle Driver
Jake grew up in the North Woods of Wisconsin, on a small lake, miles away from the nearest town. While other kids were spending their free time playing video games and hanging out with friends Jake spent his time in the woods. From a young age he developed an appreciation for nature and silent sports such as biking, cross country skiing, and kayaking. His parents chose to home school for the initial years of his education, which allowed him to pursue his passion for learning about the flora and fauna of the Midwest.
Jake also had the opportunity to work in the outdoors at an early age. His first job, at the age of 14, was working at the local ski hill. He started working the lifts and doing trail work, but quickly started picking up shifts doing lessons and by the time he was 16 he was the lead instructor.
Jake did attend college in Madison and hoped to discover some other passion equal to his enjoyment of the outdoors, but traditional education never led to his calling. After several years of study, he decided to take some time off and traveled to Central America.
In the jungle of Costa Rica Jake found a way of life that he truly loved. Jake started working for Pacific Journeys, first as a volunteer, then as an assistant guide. He helped run overnight and single day rappelling, canyoneering, and hiking tours to the Diamante and Nauyacca waterfalls. Once he discovered this line of work he enthusiastically applied himself, gaining certifications as a Wilderness First Responder, Swift Water Rescue Technician, and Technical Rope Rescue Technician through Rescue 3 International. He also developed a broad knowledge of the local flora and fauna. Eventually he became a lead guide for the rappelling and canyoneering tours, as well as the lead naturalist guide.
Jake found an abundance of opportunities in the vibrant eco-tourism industry of Costa Rica, working for several companies in a variety of positions. He led multi day whitewater rafting, backpacking, mountain climbing, surf, and scuba trips in Costa Rica and in the neighboring countries of Panama and Nicaragua. He also became more involved with Rescue 3 International, eventually working as a TA, getting paid to maintain his certifications while helping pass those skills on to others.
Jake’s love for the outdoors and enthusiasm for travel also led him to other countries with successful outdoor adventure industries. He worked 3 seasons on the South Island of New Zealand as a surf instructor, sea kayak guide, and mountain bike guide. There he gained additional certifications as a Marine VHF Operator, New Zealand Coast Guard Day Skipper, International Surf Association Surf Instructor, New Zealand Surf Coach, and joined the New Zealand Outdoor Instructors Association. He also had the opportunity to paddle with legendary paddlers such as Mike Walker, 2-time winner of the Katmandu Coast to Coast race and one of the most renowned surf ski paddlers in the country.
After the pandemic caused New Zealand to close its borders Jake returned to Costa Rica as his escape from the Midwest winters. Here he again found incredible opportunities to progress in outdoor sports and adventure tourism. He started training with the Costa Rican national whitewater rafting team and went into business with the team captain, Jeudy Mendez. Their combined skills and expertise allowed Costa Rica Explorer Tours to offer amazing rafting, surfing, and canyoneering experiences for their diverse clientele.
Jake’s love for the Midwest kept bringing him back though. Between seasons guiding in various parts of the world he would return to guide kayak trips on Lake Michigan, based in Door County WI. He guided here for 3 seasons, and has many treasured memories of paddling, surfing, and sailing on the great lakes. Jake is now returning for his fourth season in Copper Harbor and couldn’t be happier to be a part of the amazing team at the Keweenaw Adventure Company.
Wilderness First Responder
Swift Water Rescue Technician
Technical Rope Rescue Technician through Rescue 3 International
Marine VHF Operator
New Zealand Coast Guard Day Skipper
International Surf Association Surf Instructor
New Zealand Surf Coach
New Zealand Outdoor Instructors Association