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Aaron E. Guide Profile (2022)
Aaron Ekenstam

Aaron Ekenstam

Naturalist Guide

Why did you come to Yosemite:

AE: I came to Yosemite because I grew up coming here as a kid and want to show others the natural beauty of the park. It is also the most beautiful place I have been to, and there is so much more adventuring to be done!

What are your hobbies?

AE: A few of my hobbies are hiking, backpacking, soccer, camping, surfing, reading, and hanging out with friends.

Favorite hike/trail in Yosemite:

AE: My favorite trail that I have been on so far in Yosemite is a place called Chilnualna Falls.

What’s your craziest hiking story?

AE: In 2021 I went on a backpacking trip in Sequoia National Park with 3 of my friends from college to celebrate the end of the semester. We set up camp in a clearing in the woods and went to cook dinner and were surprised to see a bear circling the meadow near where we were camping. Later that night, we woke up to summit Alta Peak for the sunrise and noticed the bear’s eyes lighting up in the dark as we started up the trail. We started yelling and making noise to try and scare the bear away, and we never saw it after that. Fortunately, we made it to the summit safely and were greeted to the most spectacular sunset I have ever seen that lit up the Sierras.

Go to hiking meal/trail snack:

AE: My go to trail snack is definitely dried mango from Trader Joe’s, it’s the perfect motivation or reward for a long day.

What is your dream vacation:

AE: My dream vacation would be a backpacking trip around Iceland!

Taylor B. Guide Profile (2022)
Taylor Bright

Taylor Bright

Naturalist Guide

Why did you come to Yosemite?

TB: I wanted to explore and have a new adventure. Yosemite seemed like the perfect place. Ever since I was a kid, it has always stuck in my mind as the most beautiful place I have ever seen. Turns out, it is better than I remembered.

What are your hobbies?

TB: Hiking, rock climbing, and writing.

What is your favorite hike/trail in Yosemite?

TB: Wapama Falls trail (so far) I have many more to explore.

Tell us your craziest hiking story.

TB: I went backpacking in the Sespe Wilderness with some friends. It was my best friends first time camping, let alone backpacking, so we picked a mellow trail with water crossings and hot springs along the way. As we are hiking out, we pass a woman who tells us there is a man who lives at the hot springs who survives off the kindness of strangers. His name is Pan. After that, we run into nine mounted Sheriffs who are also looking for Pan. They tell us "He's creepy. Poke him with a stick if you have to."  When we reach the first hot spring, a man in a purple velvet robe leaps out of the bushes to say hi. He is Pan. We go to set up camp and all of a sudden hear yodeling from the mountain above us. We look up to find pan singing down into the valley. Him and his purple robe go up to the hot spring. We set up camp, eat, filter water, in the hopes that Pan will be gone when we reach the hot spring. Eventually we go up and find Pan crouched in the hot spring like a golem. He says, "Yo I've been waiting for you. You got lost for awhile." We reluctantly stay at the hot spring because we came all that way. Pan continued a very odd conversation with us until we decided it was time to go. The next morning, I looked up the trail to find Pan watching us from the ridge above. We hurriedly packed up camp and continued to the next hot spring.

What's your favorite hiking meal or trail snack?

TB: Uncrustable PB&J

And what is your dream vacation?

TB: Anytime I get to hit the road and explore a new and beautiful place.

Guide Profile Jim Pence
Jim Pence

Jim Pence

NATURALIST GUIDE

Why did you come to Yosemite?

JP:  I grew up in Yosemite Valley! My parents and I moved there when I was 3.

What are your hobbies?

JP: Hiking, white water rafting, bookkeeping and skiing.

What is your favorite hike/trail in Yosemite?

JP: Spillway Lake/Parker Pass/Bloody Canyon

Tell us your craziest hiking story.

JP: I did a four day trip through the Grand Canyon of the Tuolumne (52 miles) and I didn't see anyone the entire trip. It was amazing but also strange. It was one of the best multiday backpacking trips I have done.

What's your favorite hiking meal or trail snack?

JP: Trail mix with the M&M's.

And what is your dream vacation?

JP: Exploring more remote places that Yosemite has to offer.

Allie S Guide Photo
Allison “Allie” Schneider

Allison “Allie” Schneider

Why did you come to Yosemite?

I came to Yosemite to explore one of our most iconic national parks and share my love of nature with others.

What are your hobbies?

I love trying new things, bonus points if it’s outside! You’ll most often catch me hiking, trail running, practicing yoga or archery, or with my nose in a book.

Favorite hike/trail here in Yosemite?

My favorite hike so far here in Yosemite is the Young Lakes Loop Trail and Ragged Peak in the high country. It can be a long day, but the view is so worth it.

What’s your craziest hiking story?

When I was studying and teaching in Costa Rica, a friend and I backpacked through Nicaragua for a few weeks. Our first stop was in the city of León, where we met some fellow travelers talking about “volcano boarding” on nearby Cerro Negro, so of course, we had to give that a try!  After a couple of hours of driving through herds of cattle, we made it to the base of the volcano where we hitched our boards (a homemade kind of plywood sled) onto our backs and hiked probably the hottest hike of my life to date to the top. The trail was gravelly and unstable, the kind where every step forward was countered by a half-slide back, the air smelled like sulfur, and the sun was unrelenting, but we were determined. Hours later, getting to the top was a relief — though you can’t stick around long because the volcano is one of the most active in Nicaragua and due for an eruption! Following an investigation of the smoking caldera, we donned our neon jumpsuits and safety goggles and took turns hitting the slope. Let me tell you, after all that, putting the fear of an eruption behind you and sliding down a volcano at speeds up to 60 mph is a rush.

Tell us about your go-to favorite hiking meal/trail snack?

On a day hike, I love to bring fresh fruit. It’s a sweet snack that’s also super hydrating!

What is your dream vacation?

My dream vacation would be to spend a year backpacking through South America.

Morgan Baker

Morgan Baker

NATURALIST GUIDE

Why did you come to Yosemite?

My first season in Yosemite I spent as an intern for Yosemite National Park, talking to visitors about Giant Sequoia Trees and working in the Ranger Station. I loved it so much that I have come back for two more seasons now! Yosemite also inspired me to study geology in college and I keep coming back for those glacial troughs and polished granodiorites!

What are your hobbies?

I love alpine skiing, hiking, backpacking, looking at rocks! 

Favorite hike/trail here in Yosemite?

The Young Lakes Trail up in Yosemite’s High Country is one my favorites because it was my first ever solo backpacking trip. That hike proved to me that I was a capable outdoorswoman even by myself during my first season in the park. Along the way it travels through beautiful alpine meadows, and dense forests, and it ends in a magical chain of three lakes. 

What’s your craziest hiking story? 

I spent two weeks backpacking in the Adirondacks in New York a few years ago. It was raining and cold for most of the trip and the trails were so wet it was like walking up creeks. One day on the trail I developed moderate (but not severe) hypothermia and I got a little crazy for a bit. I was shivering uncontrollably and a little loopy.  After some hot soup and quality time in my zero degree sleeping bag, I was back to normal!

Tell us about your go-to favorite hiking meal/trail snack? 

I love dried fruit like mangos and apples for trail snacks. My go-to backpacking dinner is pesto tortellini because it’s super easy to make in a camping stove!

What is your dream vacation? 

I would love to backpack through Iceland or Norway because they have amazing views and a lot of cool rocks!

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!

Guide Profile Tino
Santino “Tino” Thornton

Santino “Tino” Thornton

assistant guiding manager


Tino joins us from the East Coast but has instantly dialed into the Yosemite adventure mode. Catch Tino as he explores Yosemite and adds to the list of peaks he has summitted.

Why did you come to Yosemite?

ST: To climb and explore the beauty of the west.

What are your hobbies?

ST: Climbing, hiking napping, hiking then napping.

What is your favorite hike/trail in Yosemite?

ST: Saddlebag Lake to the summit of Mt. Conness.

Tell us your craziest hiking story.

ST: Me and my friend summited an amazing mountain. On our way down we were walking in the dark. We eventually spotlighted two glowing eyes. We shined our lights on it to discover that it was a mountain lion. We speed walked away while blasting music, shaking keys, yelling, and doing our best to be loud. The lion stalked us for a while before it got bored.

What's your favorite hiking meal or trail snack?

ST: A tortilla covered in Nutella, peanut butter, banana and granola.

And what is your dream vacation?

ST: To spend a few night on a portal edge on El Capitan.