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Stephen Max

Stephen Max

ASSISTANT GUIDING MANAGER - Naturalist Guide

Why did you come to Yosemite?

SM: To engage in my dream career and help others learn about and enjoy the majestic beauty of nature.

What are your hobbies?

SM: Backpacking, hiking, canoeing, rock climbing, yoga, meditation, sculpting, music, reading, and writing.

Tell us your craziest hiking story.

SM: The night of my ‘solo ordeal’ was long, cold, wet, and miserable. My Outward Bound crew and I were bone-weary, famished, and cheerless as we had endured two weeks of grueling hikes, pushed to our limits and beyond, and had had one of our members evacuated because she had driven herself so hard, she had developed ulcers on her feet that required hospitalization. Three nights previously I had been drenched, when the cheap plastic sheeting, that was our only defense from torrential downpours in this temperate rainforest where we were camping, tore asunder and spilled nearly 2 gallons of rainwater directly on me. Now I had a fever that was nearly 101° F and I was being drenched once again as the shelter I had fashioned from my rain poncho was leaking badly. Throughout the night I shivered and shook in a fevered delirium. In the morning I felt much better as my fever had broken, though I was still weak and light-headed. Having nothing better to do, as there were several more hours until the official end of my ‘ordeal’, and feeling the need to stretch my legs, I took off on one of the local trails. I was hungry, lightheaded, but kinda giddy too as the fingers of light from the clear morning sun made the woods look like a beautiful enchanted forest. As I ascended a particularly steep part of the trail, I saw a boy of perhaps 10 years of age come bounding down the trail towards me. As he got closer he called out “Are you Stevie Max?”! I was astonished and confused. I was unsure of my senses, thinking perhaps this was some kind of delusion, as I was deep inside of Pisgah National Forest in the Appalachian Mountains of North Carolina, far from home and anyone who could possibly know me. Seconds later I saw the rest of his group come into sight, including Derek, one of my very best friends ever. It turned out that they had run into my crew’s two guides, back at our camp a mile away. I was so happy to see my good friend, but through the 5 or 10 minutes of our reunion, I was not entirely sure that I was not hallucinating. Then just as quickly as they appeared, Derek and his group took off and were gone. Minutes later, with me still looking in the direction that they had vanished, it dawned on me how hungry I was and very much wished that I had had the sense to have asked for a granola bar or perhaps some yummy trail mix!

What's your favorite hiking meal or trail snack?

SM: When it's appropriate, wild berries or other food I can forage. When not, homemade trail mix including nuts, seeds, dried fruits, and bits of dark chocolate.

And what is your dream vacation?

SM: A yearlong backpacking adventure in Europe, Asia, and Africa

Lori Zocklein

Lori Zocklein

Naturalist Guide

Why did you come to Yosemite?

LZ:  I came to Yosemite in May 2016.

What are your hobbies?

LZ: I love hiking, woodworking, cooking and playing with my cat Cheeseburger.

What is your favorite hike/trail in Yosemite?

LZ: I love hiking on the abandoned Big Oak Flat Stagecoach Road after a big snowstorm.

Tell us your craziest hiking story.

LZ: I was hiking to Wapama Falls at Hetch Hetchy and a black bear walked out of the bushes onto the trail about 5 ft in front of me. I started walking backward slowly while making eye contact and talking to the bear in a calm voice saying “hey bear”. After about 5 minutes of this, the bear lost interest and wandered back into the forest. It was terrifying.

What's your favorite hiking meal or trail snack?

LZ: Blueberry banana pancakes with honey peanut butter spread in the middle, eaten like a sandwich.

And what is your dream vacation?

LZ: Spending 10 days with only my favorite people in the Wilderness hiking, swimming, and cooking good food.

Brittany “Bee” Hopper

Brittany “Bee” Hopper

Naturalist Guide

Why did you come to Yosemite?

BH: I came to Yosemite to pursue an opportunity to work outdoors with others who are motivated to encourage people from all parts of life to try new things as well explore all the different parts of Yosemite National Park has to offer!

What are your hobbies?

BH: Well, this is a tough question since I love to constantly try new things, but a few of my most favorite hobbies would include jiu-jitsu, climbing, backpacking, running, and making others laugh!

What is your favorite hike/trail in Yosemite?

BH: My favorite hike in Yosemite would have to be Mirror Lake, but I am looking forward to checking off my list of new hikes to try in Yosemite!

Tell us your craziest hiking story.

BH: During my time as an undergrad student, I joined an Outdoor Adventure Program, to which would lead me to sign up for my first ever backpacking trip! Going into the start of the second day on the trip my friend, Haley, and I really had to go use the bathroom, which is not always the easiest to find while in the woods.

Haley went off to find a spot, I decided to stay on the trail so she would be able to spot me while making her way back so she would not get lost. As I was waiting for her, I was in awe of the quietness of the morning and the way the wind would rustle the fall leaves, but then I suddenly noticed a large black object moving through the woods in front of me, which I quickly realized was a black bear!

I start waving my hands at Haley and point towards the bear like crazy. I also attempted to yell her name quietly, since at the time I thought loud noises would attract the bear. Haley has no idea what I am trying to say to her and finally starts to hike back towards me. Thankfully, as she is making her way back, I also notice that the bear starts to move in the opposite direction of where we are. I finally explain to her why I was waving, and she could barely believe it!

All of this was a crazy way to start off the second day into my first ever backpacking trip, but it is also the thrill of this first trip that has stuck to me today and has lead me to pursue a life filled with adventures!

What's your favorite hiking meal or trail snack?

BH: My favorite go-to hiking meal is hands down and will forever be pita pizzas! All you need is a slice of pita bread, pepperoni, mozzarella cheese, and pizza sauce. They are super easy to make for a lunch break or a quick snack if you are feeling risky.

And what is your dream vacation?

BH: I love this question! My Dream vacation would be between taking a backpacking trip through Altai Tavan Bogd National Park in Mongolia, or traveling through South Africa!

Michelle “Meesh” Ramos

Michelle “Meesh” Ramos

Naturalist Guide

Why did you come to Yosemite?

MR:  For the past few years I’ve worked in sleep away camps and after-school programs in Florida. In the summer of 2018, I wanted to challenge myself, and experience something new. So I flew to the mountains! And I’m not quite ready to leave!

What are your hobbies?

MR: I truly enjoy the arts. Whether it's drawing, painting, crafting, singing, and more. Something that I continue to fall in love with more and more is hiking and camping. Especially since being in Yosemite it’s quickly growing into an obsession!

What is your favorite hike/trail in Yosemite?

MR: A very tough question! So I will be choosing two, haha! Glen Aulin has a special place in my heart. It was my first backpacking experience in Yosemite and it did not disappoint! I was accompanied by my good friend, the adventure queen Maure Buckley! My second is Clouds Rest. The diversity in plant life and beautiful scenery was breathtaking! I’d like to do it again and catch the sunrise!

Tell us your craziest hiking story.

MR: What immediately comes to mind is my hike “almost” to the top of El Capitan. My boyfriend and I had been planning to hike to the top of El Cap for weeks and we were hoping to do this hike before he had to go back to Michigan for school. Luckily the weather had cleared up and so we took the opportunity! The hike began pretty well! The weather was perfect, we were super excited and having a blast! About 2 hours in I began to feel a bit sick but I didn’t say anything. As we got higher in elevation we began to see snow, which for me was pretty exciting since I’m from Florida and I never really have had the chance to experience it. We continued on and the snow is getting deeper and deeper, but we could still see the trail. This hike, by the way, was super tough for me! But, my boyfriend, Lance did a great job of motivating me. After hiking for hours we are sinking to our thighs in the snow we can’t tell where the trail is. We check the map on our phone and it seems that we were going the right way but we weren't too confident. It dawns on me that we are not going to be able to finish the hike, it was starting to get dark, our phones are dying, and it’s starting to get really cold. I was so disappointed I start crying haha! As we hike down altitude sickness hits me! I was soooooo embarrassed! I sickly made my way down the mountain with Lance who was so caring during this whole thing. Finally were about a mile from the car and we look up. The sky is shining with stars, it was unforgettable. We made a deal to try it again this summer. I can’t wait!

What's your favorite hiking meal or trail snack?

MR: My favorite trail snack is definitely Guac squeeze packets accompanied with crackers, cheese, and salami! My meal is hands down rotisserie chicken with alfredo pasta and avocado! Delicious!

And what is your dream vacation?

MR: My dream vacation would be to head to Chile and do some hiking and camping in Torres Del Paine National Park! There is an animal called a Guanaco that I really want to see!

Lance Allen

Lance Allen

Naturalist Guide


Adventure is Lance's middle name. After a quick trip to the area, Lance knew he needed to find a way to spend more time in Yosemite and experience everything the park had to offer.

Why did you come to Yosemite?

LA: I visited Yosemite a few years ago and quickly realized that I would need more time to experience all that the park has to offer. I moved out here to continue to explore this incredible place.

What are your hobbies?

LA: I enjoy mountain biking, skiing, backpacking, and longboarding. I recently picked up a camera and would love to get into photography.

What is your favorite hike/trail in Yosemite?

LA: My favorite hike would have to be the Cathedral Lakes trail. It's an easy way to see some of the most breathtaking views of the high country.

Tell us your craziest hiking story.

LA: Last summer, I visited Alaska with a few buddies. We hiked up a mountain right outside of Anchorage called Mt. O'Malley. After a few hours of hiking and a scramble up a ridge, we made it to the summit. Just as we started to relax, it started pouring. We decided it was too dangerous to climb back down the ridge, so we opted for sliding down the scree slope. The slippery rock and sharp decline let to a couple close calls. We all ended up making it to the bottom and were happy to be off the mountain. A bit sketchy for sure-- but it is a hike that I will never forget.

What's your favorite hiking meal or trail snack?

LA: My favorite trail food is a classic PB&J sandwich.

And what is your dream vacation?

LA: My dream vacation would be a backpacking trip to Western China. China is one of my favorite places on Earth and is home to some of the largest peaks in the world.

Kiana “Kiki” Newman

Kiana “Kiki” Newman

Naturalist Guide


Although Kiki has a true affinity for water, she is truly at home in the mountains. You'll find her running up the highest peaks on her time off and absorbing everything Yosemite has to offer.

Why did you come to Yosemite?

KN: I absolutely fell in love with Yosemite after taking a couple groups of college students there on a guided experience. Since then I had always thought how amazing it would be to work as a guide in Yosemite National Park!

What are your hobbies?

KN: My hobbies include surfing, hiking, backpacking, trail running, and long-distance running, rock climbing, yoga, painting, eating, and meeting new people!

What is your favorite hike/trail in Yosemite?

KN: My favorite trail in Yosemite is probably the classic hike up the Mist Trail to the top of Vernal and Nevada Falls!

Tell us your craziest hiking story.

KN: My craziest hiking story is when I hiked 27.5 km to Trolltunga in Norway in 4 feet of snow. There were only 6 other people on the trail and there were moments where we had to dig trenches to walk in on the side of the mountain because of how steep and unstable the mountain got. We all had snowshoes, ski poles, and lots of chocolate to share. We stopped frequently to take off layers when it got too hot on the uphill segments and then to put them back on when it got blistery and snowy. There were times when I trailed behind the group just to hear nothing but the snow flurries and soft ringing of pure silence; it felt like I was truly in the heart of the Norwegian wilderness. I remember getting to the top and standing on the "Troll's Tongue," which is the outjutting piece of rock from the cliff that acted as a perch over the snow-glazed mountain range and the icy fjord below it. I've never felt more alive and free!

What's your favorite hiking meal or trail snack?

KN: Favorite hiking food is simply chocolate and trail mix, with any kind of edible plants I find on the trails along the way!

And what is your dream vacation?

KN: My dream vacation is any place that I haven't been before; I'm always seeking a new adventure!

Bryann “Bry” Hoffman

Bryann “Bry” Hoffman

Evergreen Lodge Recreation Manager


With an extreme passion for the outdoors and epic adventures, it's no surprise that Bry has found herself in Yosemite. With a degree in Adventure Education and a thirst for adventure, you can find Bry exploring Yosemite if she's not at work helping you make the most of your Yosemite experience.

Why did you come to Yosemite?

BH: I came to Yosemite to pursue my dream career in the field of Adventure Education. I currently hold a Bachelors of Science in Recreation/Sports Management and a masters degree in Adventure Education. So I came to Yosemite to work and play in a magical and inspiring outdoor playground.

What are your hobbies?

BH: My hobbies include hiking, snowboarding, backpacking, softball, basketball, trail running, hiking with my dog Jake, hanging with my friends, fitness, and living a well balanced healthy lifestyle. Basically, if it involves moving I'll probably enjoy it.

What is your favorite hike/trail in Yosemite?

BH: My favorite hike in Yosemite thus far was from the valley floor to Clouds Rest. This hike pushed me more mentally than physically and I did it in one day. It provided me the opportunity to see the valley from a whole different perspective.  And another trail I can't get enough of is the Four-Mile Trail-- it's perfect for trail-running!

Tell us your craziest hiking story.

BH: During graduate school at Prescott College, we did a canoe trip down the Black Canyon, in Lake Mead National Recreation Area. When we arrived at our sleeping destination a couple of the Teaching Assistants decided to go on a hike, and of course, I was game. While hiking we stumbled across a ladder. We went up the ladder to find a hot spring pool in a side canyon. The canyon walls were about 6-9 feet apart filled with highly mineralized water at about 105 degrees. We soaked together in the hot springs-- a pleasant surprise after a long canoe trip down the Black Canyon. We shared many great stories, that will last a lifetime. I will never forget the beauty of that day and the feeling I felt in my heart.

What's your favorite hiking meal or trail snack?

BH: I have to go with a vegetable green curry made with my pocket rocket and my favorite hiking snack would have to be an English muffin with coconut oil, peanut butter and a bit of honey sandwich.

And what is your dream vacation?

BH: My dream vacation would be snowboarding all through the Swiss Alps.

Lucas Allen

Lucas Allen

NATURALIST GUIDE


Lucas grew up in Michigan, studied Biology in Nashville, Tennesse, and has now joined us for two seasons guiding here in Yosemite at the Evergreen Lodge. In his spare time, he and brother, a fellow guide here at the Evergreen, Lance can be found backpacking far into the backcountry.

Why did you come to Yosemite?

LA: I came to Yosemite because I wanted to experience the adventure of living in one of the most renown and beautiful places in the world.  I have always loved the great outdoors, and I knew that Yosemite would be the perfect fit.

What are your hobbies?

LA: I absolutely love hiking, climbing, kayaking, snowboarding, swimming, scuba diving, water skiing, and skydiving.  I also like to spend time reading and hanging out with good friends.

What's your favorite hike here in Yosemite? 

LA: My favorite hike would have to be the trail to Wapama Falls.  Hetch Hetchy, the area around us, is absolutely stunning.  It is also much less crowded because it is not as well known as Yosemite Valley.

Craziest hiking story?

LA: A few years ago I was on an outdoor adventure trip in Yangshuo, China.  My friends and I brought climbing and rappelling equipment to the top of Moon Hill, one of the largest and most beautiful arches in the world.  After securing a line, we were able to rappel off of the top.  I will never forget the feeling of swinging over 400 feet in the air as I soaked up the incredible views of the karst mountains of central China.  It goes to show how some of the most terrifying experiences can be the most fun!

Favorite Hiking meal or trail food? 

LA: My favorite trail food is veggies, and hummus without a doubt. It’s delicious, quick, and very healthy.

What is your dream vacation? 

LA: My dream vacation would have to be New Zealand.  It has mountains, beaches, and everything in between.  I would love to spend time exploring all of the beauty the country has to offer.