Ken Boche

Yosemite Close Up ToursKen first visited Yosemite at the age of 7 while on a cross-countrycamping trip with his family to California from his home in Chicago. This seminal trip opened his eyes to the wonders of the West to which his family moved a few years later. As a young teen, he began mountaineering in Yosemite with his father and brother and, as he grew older, he continued rock-climbing here accomplishing some early ascents of some of Yosemite’s big walls as well as some first ascents in the Yosemite Valley and the Sierra high country. As a student of bio-geography at UCLA, he was active in the Bruin Mountaineers where he met Ira. In graduate school there, he wrote his thesis on the dynamics of meadows and forests in the Yosemite high country.

After completing his master’s degree, he spent a summer on a climbing expedition to Afghanistan. Then he spent several years designing/teaching/guiding various environmental field study programs for U.C.S.C. in Yosemite, the Grand Canyon region, and the Hawaiian Islands. At that time, he and Ira owned a homestead near Mariposa. Later, he moved to Hawaii where he married, built a house and a native plant nursery, raised a daughter, and taught forestry-related classes at Hawaii Community College. He’s recently returned to Mariposa to renew his connections to the Yosemite area.


Ira Estin

Ira Estin Yosemite Close Up Tours Ira began his outdoor experiences when his parents took him camping in Yosemite at age one.  Later, as a Boy Scout, he hiked most of the John Muir Trail and did many other backpacks in the Sierra Nevada. At UCLA, he joined the Bruin Mountaineers, where he improved his mountaineering skills, expanded his love to other outdoor activities and to photography.

After teaching high school math and science for many years, he began teaching outdoor nature photography classes for UC Santa Cruz and UC Santa Barbara. Ira has pursued mountaineering, backpacking, cave exploring, white-water rafting and kayaking in Alaska, Canada, Mexico, South America, and Asia. For 12 years, he owned a whitewater rafting company in Santa Fe, New Mexico. At present he lives in Mariposa and divides his time between practicing and teaching nature photography and working as a tour guide in Yosemite and farther afield.

Daniel Melendez

Daniel Melendez

Daniel’s first visit to Yosemite National Park was during his spring break of 2009. At the time, he was studying music and media production in Southern California. When a friend suggested a road trip to Yosemite to him, he could not have imagined what was to come. Never before had he seen such natural beauty! He could scarcely believe that Yosemite was in the same state that he’d had lived his whole life. A year later, he spent his summer vacation working in Yosemite Valley for the park concessionaire. He has lived and worked in and near Yosemite ever since. He is an active rock-climber and has an ever-increasing curiosity and knowledge about Yosemite.


Matty Elliott

Matty, Tour CoordinatorOur tour coordinator, Matty, grew up in Berkeley and enjoyed camping with her family on cross country road trips visiting many National Parks. She has done many things in her career, including working on a forest fire crew for 5 seasons, coaching the University of Oregon women’s crew team, and working as a veterinarian for 25 years.  She is now splitting her time between her work as a bookkeeper and as our Tour Coordinator.
This year she and her husband have designated Wednesdays as “Wilderness Wednesdays” and have been taking a hike in different areas of Yosemite Park every week.