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!



Guide Marika walking down flooded dirt road in galoshes

Marika grew up semi feral amongst the sand dunes and eucalyptus groves of Half Moon Bay. Having developed an early love of the natural world, she worked as an environmental educator for outdoor schools throughout Northern California. For the past 15 years she has worked as a professional outdoor guide. Taking a cue from the grey and humpback whales she works amongst, she has been migrating seasonally between Alaska, Hawaii, and Baja. Marika is currently a Seasonal Interpreter based at Wilder Ranch.  Marika finds joy in the minutiae of the forest floor and bushwhacking through the huckleberry bushes.

Marika will be leading the Skyline Sojourn 2024 and Women's Weekend adventures.



Erin C.

CASOBA backcountry naturalist Erin Christ facing the camera

Originally from Pacifica, CA, Erin has spent her adult years tumbleweeding around the western US, from Grand Teton National Park to Portland, Oregon and many wonderful places in between. She started backpacking at an early age and has never stopped! When not hiking, she is a Senior Park Aide at Half Moon Bay State Beach and loves to write, sew and play music in her spare time.

Erin is co-leading the Skyline Sojourn, In Pursuit of Perseids and Women's Weekend adventures.




CASPBA Backcountry Naturalist Elexis Padron in the redwood forest

Elexis hails from a small agricultural town in the Central Valley. Her family's annual camping trips to Pfeiffer Big Sur and Refugio State Beach helped inspire her love of nature. Elexis is a self-declared plant nerd, artist and avid nature journaler (What's nature journaling?? You'll see if you join one of her trips!) When she's not co-leading CASPBA trips, she is the Interpreter I at Half Moon Bay State Beach. In her free time, she is a volunteer outings leader for Latino Outdoors and a collector of creative hobbies.

Elexis is co-leading the Women's Weekend Adventure.




Guide Alex talking to a group of backpackers along Butano Ridge

One of the team's original members, Alex couldn't be more excited for another 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.



Erin D.

 CASPBA Backcountry Naturalist Erin Dunning

Erin grew up camping and backpacking in the Sierra Nevada Mountains and later throughout Humboldt County and the Trinity Wilderness. A recent transplant to the Santa Cruz mountains, Erin is a State Park Interpreter at Big Basin Redwoods State Park and has a passion for all things outdoors. She also enjoys singing, playing guitar and clarinet and has recently taken up watercolor. 

Erin will be co-leading Adventure Amongst the Ancients and Big Basin Basecamp (aka "CarsBA")




CASPBA Backcountry Naturalist Jean Parker

Jean is a seasoned hiker and backpacker from years of living in the Tahoe region as well as the coastal areas of the Pacific Northwest. She has led many groups during her years as an Outward Bound Instructor all over the West Coast from Joshua Tree to the North Cascades. She currently works as a Senior Park Aide at Big Basin Redwoods State Park. Though she is new to the Santa Cruz Mountains, she is in her happy place where mountains meet the sea. Jean also has a strong passion for the Equestrian life and spends much of her free time volunteering at equine rescues, adaptive riding facilities and taking care of others’ horses.

Jean will be co-leading the Big Basin Basecamp (aka "CarsBA") adventure.




David standing in the wind at Ano Nuevo, looking for seals

David began backpacking at thirteen, hiking different central California sections of the Pacific Crest Trail each summer until he graduated high school. These days we hikes all over the Ano Nuevo Preserve as an Interpreter I there and at Rancho del Oso. He loves the parks, the redwoods, and the people who want to see both.


David will be co-leading the Adventure Among the Ancients and Pursuit of the Perseids trips.