Maya Wilkes

Assistant INstructor

I first experienced wildness during a backcountry semester during my sophomore year at UC Santa Cruz. I didn’t know what I wanted to study and had the general listlessness of your typical 19 year old; I was ready to drop out. The remote environmental studies program offered a few months outside with a professor, a TA and a dozen students. The experience of being outside for weeks on end imprinted in me an undying love for the natural world and a clear understanding of how critical it is to know it. I had gone camping, backpacking and birdwatching with my family as a kid, but only when outside for an extended period did I begin to understand the subtleties of the natural world. That semester I learned the desert is not, in fact, empty, and that there are more than a few stars in the sky. A piece of Sierra Nevada granite is wedged in my heart.

I'm a Momma bear, an artist, a great cook and a fast swimmer. I love climbing for the way it makes me fall apart. A good day out on the rocks contains laughter, tears, and a few choice words. I’ve got guns, but I don’t often use them. My Daddy calls me the strongest in the family, but I can be a bit lazy in applying it. Luckily I married a guy who pushes me to get uncomfortable once in a while.