Meet Your Trip Leaders!

Meet the CASPBA Crew...

Who better to lead you through these beautiful landscapes than California State Park Professionals? Our experienced Backcountry Naturalists are committed to facilitating fun, safe and immersive trips for all CASPBA participants. Most of our adventures are led by two of our team members, and each are trained natural and cutultural interpreters as well as certified Wilderness First Responders.

Get to know a little about the folks who will be guiding you!



CASPBA Backcountry Naturalist ElexisElexis was born and raised in the small Central Valley town of Sanger, California. Every year, she looked forward to her family’s annual camping trip at Refugio State Beach or Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park-- a tradition that started with her grandma’s generation. These camping trips planted the seed of her love of the outdoors. Elexis attended UC Santa Cruz, where she earned Bachelor’s degrees in Community Studies and Art. After UCSC, Elexis lived in Los Angeles, where she worked in arts education and devoted her free time to planning camping trips, searching for her own gear at affordable prices, hiking, and learning all she could about plants and wildlife by earning her UCANR California Naturalist Certification. 

Elexis is currently a Seasonal Interpreter with California State Parks, hosting guided hikes at Butano State Park, tidepool explorations at Pigeon Point Light Station, and co-leading field trips and other activities at Half Moon Bay State Beach. As a CASPBA Backcountry Naturalist, Elexis hopes to provide a welcoming, inclusive space for folks to explore and deepen their relationship with nature, and hopefully introduce the practice of nature journaling to more people. She enjoys spending her free time reading, writing letters, nature journaling, knitting, and printmaking.

Elexis will be leading the trips In Pursuit of Perseids and An Adventure Among the Ancients 



Naturalist talks during a stop at Butano State Park on a California State Parks Bakcpacking Adventure

One of the team's original members, Alex couldn't be more excited for a sixth season on the CASPBA Crew! He essentially grew up on the trails of the Santa Cruz Mountains as a young Boy Scout in Boulder Creek and has been making a living as a backpacking guide along them off and on since 2008. Alex enjoys long hikes to the beach and getting caught in the rain, though preferably not at the same time.

Alex will be leading the Skyline Sojourn and In Pursuit of the Perseids trips.




CASPBA Backcountry Naturalist Ashley on a lunch break with participants in BUtano SP

I'm Ashley Weil (she/her) and I am a queer Floridian who lives in Santa Cruz, CA. I am a natural resource manager and backcountry naturalist for California State Parks Santa Cruz District. In 2013, after living the Big Easy life in New Orleans and having never been camping, I got an offer to join the Backcountry Trails Program in the Shasta Trinity National Forest. Since then, I've worked in natural resource management in the Santa Cruz District, trail crew and hazard trees in Kings Canyon and then back here to Santa Cruz, where I first fell in love with exploring the natural world. I love backpacking, dancing, diet coke, activism, my plants, laughing and serving looks. I can't wait to share a piece of my heart and a place I love dearly with you all!

Ashley will be leading An Adventure Among the Ancients.




Sky, the interpreter at Wilder Ranch State Park

Hello! My name is Sky and I am a backcountry naturalist with CASPBA. I have been an avid backpacker since I was very young and have always done my best to take advantage of growing up and living in close proximity to California’s stunning wilderness. Some would say I have been quite lucky…and I would agree! But I also know not everyone has been so lucky to have been exposed to backpacking and the natural world from a young age, so I am excited to join people of all experience levels and share my passion for the outdoors. Other than the Santa Cruz Mountains, my favorite backpacking spots are in National Forests that lie between the state’s most iconic National Parks in the Sierra Nevadas. I am happy to share some of my favorite off-the-beaten path backpacking spots, but you’ll have to come on a CASPBA trip to find out!

Sky will be leading the Skyline Sojourn adventure.



ethan at half moon bay sb

Ethan has been with California State Parks since July 2020. Based out of the Half Moon Bay office, he primarily works on resources projects and leads and coordinates volunteer restoration workdays at State Park properties along the San Mateo Coast. He is a certified California naturalist and has worked, studied, and traveled in a variety of habitats and regions throughout the state. He is passionate about exploring the outdoors, learning more about native plants and animals, and sharing his deep appreciation of nature with others. Ethan is excited to lead backpacking trips in the Santa Cruz Mountains this year and build a community around our shared love of open spaces.





CASPBA Backcountry Naturalist Joe at Half Moon Bay State Beach

Joe is a Backcountry Naturalist and State Park Interpreter I with California State Parks, based out of Half Moon Bay State Beach. Born and raised in Stockton, California – a semiurban city with limited access to outdoor open spaces – he feels fortunate to have a family that had the resources and time to spend most of their summers camping and hiking in various places throughout the Sierra Nevada Mountains and Northern California Coast. It's no surprise, then, that he's always wanted to work outdoors. After graduating from UC Davis with a degree in Wildlife, Fish, and Conservation Biology, Joe has worked for agencies including the California Department of Fish and Wildlife and the San Francisco Department of the Environment before “returning home” to work with California State Parks.

As someone who now lives in a large, heavily populated urban city, what Joe values most about being outdoors is the sense of quiet and serenity that you feel out on the trail and in nature. As a CASPBA co-leader, Joe hopes to create an inclusive and safe space for people to relax, reflect, and enjoy the quieter sights and sounds of being outdoors and away from the city.