Amazing people, John & Catherine DeGrazio! Amazing day! Amazing planning! Amazing photography opportunities! Amazing food! Amazing sights! Do you get the idea? This was an absolutely spectacular visit to Yosemite National Park. We had only the one day to see “everything” Yosemite had to offer and without Y-Explore to guide us there is no way that could have happened. Catherine made all the original plans with us by phone and email. She is warm and gracious and made us feel so comfortable before we even arrived at Yosemite. John took over the day of our excursion. He greeted us with smiles, a strong handshake and we were off on our journey of exploration. Of course there were lots of other people at the iconic areas but John found so many special spots where it was just the four of us that we almost felt as if we were discovering new vistas in the Park. He promised we would see magnificent mountains, waterfalls, deer and a bear. He delivered on everything. The vistas are there but running into the deer and seeing the bear (in the distance) was a special treat. John is an encyclopedia of park information, fact and fiction. His warm personality exudes the excitement of being in the Park. He made you feel the love he has for nature and these surroundings. You could see his eyes light up when sharing his thoughts, introducing newbies to this magical kingdom. Though tired and exhausted from non-stop euphoria all day, we hated to see it end. There is no way we would ever be at Yosemite again without John by our side. We got to see: Sentinal Bridge, Cooks Meadow, Lower Yosemite Falls, El Capital Meadow, Crane Flat, Pot Hole Dome, Tuolumne Meadows, Tuolumne River (and walked in the water), Tenaya Lake (also cooling off in the water), Olmsted Point, Crane Flat, Wawona Tunnel, Tunnel View, Glacier Point and Porcupine Creek. Just listing these spots makes us tired … and there was so much more. If you ever get to Yosemite you must check out YExplore. We promise you you will be delighted with anything they plan for you; hiking, climbing, photography, private, groups … you name it and they are THE BEST. They will make your trip one you will always, always remember. To say the least, we were ecstatic with their attention, service and planning. An absolutely perfect day!
Alese, Jay & Roxanne Delray Beach, FL 7.12
John, Again, thanks for the wonderful Saturday in Yosemite. It was great getting to know you a bit, and an exhilarating hike with spectacular panoramic views of the beautiful Sierra. I hope to meet up with you again in the not too distant future.
Ben Anderson, Burlingame, CA 7.12
Dear Catherine and John,
There is a saying, “Your life is measured not by how many breaths you take but how many times your breath is taken away.” My experience with you climbing Half Dome took my breath away many times. I will keep reliving the climb for the rest of my life. Thank you for making my climb wonderful.
Thank you so much. Marlene Killian 7.12
We loved our hiking trip with John on June 18, 2012. We’ve also liked you on facebook.
P.S. we saw someone today with a “leave no trace” t shirt & the girls got really excited.
The Chong Family
Doug, Leah, Kayla & Emily 7.12
Thanks again for a spectacular tour of Yosemite last Thursday 7/5.
Thanks. Nancy Cheung 7.12
John, Thanks for sharing pictures on facebook from our trip!! Terry and I had a great time and enjoyed your expertise!
Jamie Tweedle 7.12
John, it was so great meeting you and Mark. You both added so much to our hikes and I really enjoyed our conversations. I can never thank you enough for walking me out to Cloud Rest’s summit, but know that it’s something I will always remember. Thank you also for sharing your knowledge of Yosemite, your kindness and for all the photos you took of us. I really wish we lived a little closer.
John, Just wanted to thank you and Catherine for a wonderful Yosemite experience. Paul and the boys and I had such a great time. It’s a trip none of us will ever forget. We made it down to the valley the day after our hike and although the views from there were amazing as well, it made me appreciate our hike all the more. The crowds and congestion were a stark contrast to the peaceful and serene time we had with you and Ashley. Thanks again for an amazing time and for your patience with my fear of heights.
All the best,
Kat Saurbier (and family) 6.12
Thank you for the pics. it brought tears to my eyes and a deep gratitude for how it all worked out. The joy on Joy’s face and relaxation and she went home optimistic and inspired. I was too, but it was special for her at her time in her life. Anyways loved! every step of every mile with the freedom it brought to my soul. We will not forget your company and how you made us feel. So safe and so YOU CAN DO IT. Thanks again (everyone at work asked how it went and I have recommended your company to all).
Hi John, We are back home and had a wonderful, wonderful vacation. Of course, Half Dome was the highlight. Wanted to again thank you for your assistance, knowledge and patience:
Climbing Half Dome for my 50th birthday and our 20 year wedding anniversary was a dream for me. The problem was that my husband had a knee replacement 16 months prior as well as a bad back, and I also have a back issue and a few (OK more than a few) extra pounds. So, I thought it made sense to hire a guide to help us to the top.
I picked Y Explore because their ad and website looked good, and Catherine was very nice and helpful by phone and email. They were very helpful in getting us prepared with training and packing. On the morning of the hike, we met John DeGrazio for the first time. I was battling my fears including A) death, B) having to be rescued off the side of the mountain and C) disabling my husband and being blamed forever since I talked him into this.
John gave us a workable plan which broke down the hike into doable pieces. He was supportive, encouraging and honest. It is not an easy hike. Just getting up to the top of the falls is tough. The subdome is scary and the cables–another whole level of fear factor. But John kept us focused and calm. He gave us a plan to make it to the top. And it was one of the best experiences of our lives. And, we hiked every day for the rest of our trip with no major physical issues.
Thank you so much John, Catherine and Y Explore!!!
Mary W 6.12
Hey John, Just wanted to let you know how much I absolutely loved going through Yosemite with you. Definitely top 5 things of my life, really had a good time. Also to give you some feedback for your company, I found your knowledge on everything a huge plus, it was more than just a hike.
I hope you and the family are well mate, take care.
Dan V (Australia) 6.12
John, Thanks so much I had a great time, the photos are great reminders of my wonderful vacation!
Thank you so much for you guidance and inspiration during our Yosemite adventure. We had a marvelous experience. Hugh and Nan Caison 6.12
We’re back from our trip and we wanted to thank you! The hike was really amazing and we really enjoyed it. It was really nice having James with us, we saw everything we were hoping to see
All the best,
Thanks again for the awesome hikes last weekend. We had a great time and learned a lot. Andrew and Keleigh have not stopped talking about it!
Jeff Hutchings 3.12
I literally found your services through a Google search. I have to admit that it was one of the best “finds” I’ve experienced from the internet. The care you showed in making sure your photographer addressed my needs, far in advance of actually getting to Yosemite were impressive. After your detailed guidance on driving to Yosemite, where to get chains for my car rental and then where to meet your photographer, my experience was only out done by the GREAT photography instruction provided by Robb Hirsch, your staff photography instructor. Robb not only gave great instructions on composition and various photographic techniques, he made suggestions for inexpensive additions to add to my equipment to dramatically improve my photographs. We’ve got some great photographs from our vacation that we wouldn’t have had without Robb’s instruction! I’d not only highly recommend Yexplore, I hope to use your services when I visit the Yosemite again when I visit in the future.
Bill Connolly 2.12
A quick note to thank you for arranging today. Robb was incredibly helpful and his passion for both Yosemite and photography was evident. He made it a memorable trip and I’m sure I’ll be back.
I would like to thank you for your great job …. the Hiking tour was super – the nature in Yosemite is really amazing -
totally different to what I saw so far. Tamara is a really lovely person and great guide, so please keep her
Have a nice day
First i will thank you for all the help to get a wonderful day i have joy every min from the day and Lindsay Black is a great guide and very nice, and it was a pleasure to take this walk with her it was a great day and your company is super, and someday in the futher i will come back and than i will again do a hiking tour from your company
Thank You Mark 11.11
special Thanks to Lindsay Black
Thank you again for our day trip in yosemite. We had an amazing time. We are gonna try coming back over in may so will hopefully see you again. We might try a harder walk this time!!
Gemma + Paul 11.11
Hi Catherine…I wanted to just send a quick note to thank you for helping plan this trip with me. You really are great to work with. We had a wonderful time…it was certainly an experience and an adventure we will never forget. If you could please pass on to John as well that we thank him very much for taking us on the hike. He showed us so many things and really made it a day we both can’t stop talking about. Thanks again to you both!! Hope to see you again soon, next time we are there.
Stacey and Kevin Kostue 11.11
We did have a very nice time hiking with Lindsay. She was very informative and a pleasure to spend time with. Thanks Again – Mike 11.11
Thanks John! Tina and I had such a wonderful time… we will certainly be back again. You were such a wonderful guide and very knowledgeable.
Thanks John. I had an absolutely awesome time in Yosemite with your guides. I learnt some good tips from Gabe and he took some amazing pics of me. Lindsay was amazing – her knowledge of the area – animals, birds, plants, geology – was fantastic and she conveyed it in a very easy to understand way. She was friendly, easy to talk with and very good company. My time in Yosemite with your guides is one of my two favourite memories of the US as I head home to Australia later today. Many thanks to Catherine also for making the process of organising and booking my adventures so simple.
Trina Corrimal, New South Wales Australia 11.11
Dear Mr. Degrazio,
You may recall that there was an elderly Chinese woman age 72(going on to 73 in Oct.) who was utterly grateful for your generous unsolicited assistance in rendering some free passes to go up the Half Dome. I did not know of the required permits till 6 months ago at which time all passes were issued and had no luck in getting any cancellations for the last 6 months , during which I called and went on Internet to obtain any cancellation passes, but in vain. Since it was going to be my last goal to reach the top via cable, I took a risk in getting up there without a permit. You were so kind to render 2 of your passes from your group members who did not want to do the last leg of the hike. I heard your instructions to your group and was most impressed with how patient you were in explaining all the safety issues associated with the cable assisted climb. I was also touched by your total trust in me by lending me the safety harness with carabiner. I am most grateful for your help and advice, and I would like to take this opportunity to thank you personally.
Thank you. You are truly an asset to your company.
Rosemary Cheung 11.11
Just wanted to thank you for such a great hike and experience. Truly a day that I will remember for the rest of my life. Again thanks for making my experience so great for me and the others that went with us on the hike. After I showed some of my pictures from Half Dome to several of the guys in my Sunday School class and talked about the hike, a number of them approached me about having a guys week in Yosemite with a Half Dome summit so there is a real good chance that within the next year (two at most) you will be hearing from me again as I told them I would gladly go back and make the hike with them.
Dean Burnett 10.11
I hope you are doing great. I arrived home safe. Just a quick note to thank you again for your above and beyond client service. I couldn’t have done it without you.
Many thanks again
I want to thank you, John and Lindsay for an awesome hike last Sunday, Sept. 25. After I reached the top of sub dome, I decided not to climb the cables and my husband, Craig, was going to stay behind with me. John encouraged me to give the cables a try and if I wanted to come back down he would help me. With his and Lindsay’s encouragement, I made it to the top and am so glad I did. Thank you John and Lindsay!
Deb DeWitt 9.11
I can’t thank you enough for my Half Dome experience! You guy’s are WONDERFUL! Half Dome was such a great experience for me! I hope you saw my posts on Facebook as well as trip advisor (all great). If there’s anything else I can do to help you guys out, please let me know!
once again thank you again, for a wonderful experience yesterday. I am
positively sure, that I wouldn’t have been able to make it, without you.
As Caroline said, you really are a rockstar!
Again, thank you for a lovely trip – I’ll recommend you, to everyone I know!
(And if you’re ever coming to Copenhagen, let me know!)
Jens Quitzau Copenhagen, Denmark 9.11
Just a note to give you my email address so hopefully you can email me those photos you took yesterday on top of Half Dome. Thanks again, I had a spectacular time yesterday – a day I will never forget. You may just have converted me into a fan of the great outdoors!
Of the places we visited in the USA during our short stay last year, Yosemite is still the highlight for me! Thanks again to John for a great experience.
Kym (Australia) 8.11
I wanted to wait a few weeks to contact you so that I could reflect on what my first Half Dome climb meant to me at age 70. I cannot thank you and Jennifer enough for one of the most important experiences of my life. You both made it possible for me to do the impossible. I especially appreciated the patience you showed with me. I will always be grateful for the gift you and Jennifer gave to me.
Happy New Year to you and your family. Not a day goes by that I don’t think of our trip to Half Dome last July. Can’t thank you enough for what you gave me as a 70th Birthday present. BTW, I sure hope that I still hold the record as the oldest person you brought up to the top of Half Dome to kiss the face of God.
Stan Kowalczyk 8.11
Just wanted to thank you for the great hike on Wednesday Aug 3rd 2011, Kevin and I thought it was a life changing experience. I am going to try to get out there once a year to do something new and will definitely use your company. You guys were great.
Michael S. Riley 8.11
Hi John and Catherine
I’m back in the office (sadly), but wanted to thank you again for your assistance in arranging the Taft/Sentinel hiking adventure (Catherine) and for your guidance on the trip itself (John). I did enjoy myself. Hope to find myself up there again during the coming year, seeing Yosemite during a different season which I’ve never done outside of summer. The possibilities are endless. Just wish I lived closer – oh well! Meanwhile, thank you again….Cheers, L 8.11
Lily and I wanted to personally thank you for the guided hike through the Mist Trail and JM Trail a few weeks ago (June 22, 2011). Your knowledge and expertise made the hike far more enjoyable and by far the highlight of our trip. We also felt extremely comfortable and safe with the Y Explore team throughout the hike and would recommend your services to anyone visiting Yosemite. We also have to thank your for the Whoa Nellie Deli recommendation – amazing fish tacos after the most scenic of drives through Tioga Pass. Thanks again for making our trip memorable.
Lily and Mike 7.11
Thank you for getting my butt up half dome on Tuesday. I was able to overcome my fear of heights through your comments on trust and the straps. My wife was amazed that I did it. She saw me get white as a ghost during a cliff climb in Acadia National Park.
I am developing the Half Dome photos which brings back alot of memories.. You and Thomas did a great job and WE ALL are very appreciative of your efforts and skills to get us to the top. I can delete the trip from my bucket list and put a positive check in the column by the event. Say hello to Catherine and Thomas.
Tre Neu 7.11
Hey John! Lisa here from the Yosemite hike on July 3. Thanks again for the awesome hike and conversation! BTW, EXCELLENT footage of our bear on U-tube! Also, FYI, Jeff and I searched Yosemite and Stanley Cup on Utube (that’s how we came across your footage:) and found a newspaper / Utube clip of our voices! Jeff is chanting about Pittsburgh winning the Cup in 91′ and then praises the guy who carried the cup saying, “good job!”! I’m in the background saying “Wow…….!” So funny!
John and Catherine:
Just wanted to take the opportunity to thank you for the great experience. I certainly needed the all the advice and encouragement that I could get to reach the cables (not to mention broken-canteen-carrying and backpack-duct-taping!)
I want to tell you how pleased we were with John as a guide. My sons were very impressed and had a terrific time. I know now that I made the right choice.
Thank you. Steve Moyer 6.28
Want you to know could not have made it without your expert help! Thanks for trip of a lifetime!
Bill & Julie 6.11
Just wanted to drop you a note of thanks. We thoroughly enjoyed the workshops in Yosemite with you. Your choice of locations and technical help is much appreciated. Thanks again for making it so memorable for me.
Dear Catherine and John,
Again I wanted to thank you for providing another level of experience for me as a photographer. Both Robb and James made the workshops very informative and interesting. Both are very committed and passionate professionals. My visit to Yosemite was more productive because of the workshops and my pictures will Thanks ,
Thank You once again for a wonderful days hiking on 21st may 2011. Angela and I will never forget the tremendous views at lunchtime at the top of Nevada Fall. We really enjoyed your company for the day and will certainly be walking with you again on our next visit to that area of the USA.
Mick and Angela Foulston (Skipton, England) 6.11
We had an awesome time on our hike. John was great. Thanks again!
Obviously, today is a huge reflection for us and our conversation about the day – Though each of us has our own story, you don’t know what yesterday meant to me. I can definitely say that it “changed Amy’s life” – but the time and placement in my is a very surreal story. And even better yet, the overall experience, your patience, certainly your knowledge and passion for the trade, the park, it’s surroundings, etc…..pours through every second…And made it just the best day! We really think you are “more than perfect for what you do” and couldn’t have asked for a better “lead” for the day.
Be well brotha….jp and aim 5.11
Hello Catherine & John,
John- Thank you so much for our fun & informative family tour of Yosemite last Wednesday. Thanks for being part of our memorable engagement as well! I was shocked and certainly didn’t expect it during our hike of the park. It was a beautiful experience all around. Thanks again and we will be sure to recommend our family & friends to you.
Sandra Sandoval 4.11
Hi everyone there at Y Explore,
We are safely home in Brisbane, Australia and just wanted to say thanks to John for taking us on an amazing hike up to the Yosemite Falls and sharing all his wonderful knowledge with us. John you will also be pleased to know that Tim and Charlotte can still tell us the 7 principles of Leaving no Trace! What a great lesson for them to learn- thankyou. You will always be part of our memorable time in Yosemite and it was such a wonderful place to spend time with our family – we’ll treasure our memories forever.
Robert, Louise, Tim and Charlotte Carius 4.11
Thank you so much for the delightful photo Robb Hirsch took of Bryant and I. We had a wonderful time with him as our photo guide and have recommended your services to friends. Have a great New Year. Barb Nelson 4.11
Thank you for arranging the photo op with rob. He did an outstanding job. I really enjoyed the time spent with him. learned a lot about composition and got a few good shots as well.
Thank you very much
Charlie S 2.11
Thank you again for the wonderful instruction in Yosemite. I had a great time and learned much more than I expected. You were there early and you left late which, to me, shows you care about both your clients and your photography.
Thanks again. I would love to go out on another shoot with you if I’m ever back in the Yosemite area. I’ve yet to photograpy Bridalveil Falls or get down by the Merced River so, hopefully, one day I will be back.
Take care and good shooting,
I have most fond memories of my trip to Yosemite this summer inc. the hike the 4 of us took to Lembert Dome. I have already booked my camping reservations for next summer and will check on the activities on your web site come this spring. Thank you for making my needed get-a-way a special time.
Laurel ( Duarte , CA ) 11.10
I just wanted to give you some excellent feedback on our hike with Dan. We did a full day hike starting from Glacier Point and Dan was our guide. He was fantastic! He was extremely knowledgeable about all the plants, rock formations, park history, animals etc. The time flew by! Yosemite of course has great scenery—-but Dan added so much more to the hike by commenting on the entire environment of the park. He also gave us some great tips for hikes for the next day. Would highly recommend Dan to anyone who wants to get the most out of their Yosemite experience. It exceeded all our expectations!
—Michele and Jeremy Rodman ( Southbury , CT ) 10.10
Hi Catherine & John, I am still in AWE and so emotionally psyched it will most definitely last indefinitely!!!! I want to thank you both so much for all that you did. To reach my Birthday Wish of standing on top of Half Dome is a dream come true. Catherine thank you, I really value the time and dedication you gave to me both on the phone and through e-mails. You helped me prepare both mentally and physically for this hike which made it even more fun. John, Thank you. You were amazing! Your compassion and kindness to me and the group through out this hike is so appreciated. John I learned so much more about hiking. Your shared knowledge of techniques to hiking and the breathing techniques were so helpful and will be carried to other hikes I do. AND ….added to this already amazing hike was your knowledge; and your Lyndsey’s, of the history, fauna, animals and the environment of Yosemite …It just enhanced it even more..Soooo, if I were to write a number to rate this experience ;with the high number being the best, I would have to write INFINITY…Catherine & John once again Thank you for this wonderful Lasting memory of ” 51 & had some fun”
Best to you both, Marie ( Warren , ME ) 9.10
I am writing to tell you how wonderful our Hike was on the 10th August. Mark was fantastic he really made our day special. He was the perfect guide and we fell very lucky to have had him allocated to our day. He was so knowledgeable & Friendly. Not sure we stopped talking the whole day. The sights were totally amazing and we felt we had a brillant selection of places & views on the hike. Our Photos are fantastic. Mark is a credit to your company and I will be recommending it highly on Trip Advisor. Please pass on our regards to Mark and that we wish him & his family well.
Thanks so much for making our honeymoon extra special.
Yosemite is amazing.
Lisa & Paul ( Essex , UK ) 9.10
We had a wonderful pair of hikes, and wanted to thank you guys again for helping to make our Yosemite vacation so special.
All the best,
Steve, Karen, Everi and Gil ( Oakton , VA ) 9.10
Dear Catherine and John, Thank you for an extraordinary day and a wonderful adventure. We are home now and taking a couple of quiet days before we launch ourselves back into our biking, hiking, running routine. But we have with us the incredible sights, scenes, and memories of the day.
John, Katie loves your “stage” system. She said it was a terrific way to break down the long hike. I loved how you helped us and guided us up and down the cable section. I felt so confident and not at all afraid. Standing in that line, looking out at that scenery, was something else. We are proud of ourselves for our accomplishment, which would have never happened without Yexplore. Thank you for making this possible for us. It’s only a question now of …what’s next??
All the best, Mary Louise ( Mill Valley , CA ) 9.10
David, yesterday’s hike (friday September 17th) was just fabulous! My friends just could not stop retelling your stories and they just loved the encounter with natural history. Somewhere during that hike, their interest turned into fascination and then into enchantment. Thank you for sharing your knowledge and wisdom and bringing it all to life!
Jim ( New Hope , PA ) 9.10
Hi John–I wanted to thank you for an absolutely amazing trip. Half dome seemed completely doable w/ your guidance. It was awesome. I hope to be in Yosemite next yr w/ my dad and will certainly call you ahead of time.
Tammy (from the OARS trip) ( Cambridge , MA ) 9.10
Dear Catherine and John,
Our guided tour of Taft Point and Sentinal Dome was awesome, thank you. We loved the great information we got along the way and the enjoyable camaraderie along the way.
We were not able to get over to the Meadows, sadly, (or the 4-star restaurant inside the Mobil gas station) — but we had another great trail run, hiked the four-mile trail up and down, and went to Hetch Hetchy to see the falls there, just before heading out.
Chris and I left the area feeling strongly that we could see ourselves living there — getting in on a piece of that natural beauty and year-round running/hiking/cycling action! You guys would be the first persons we’d inform.
All the best,
Julie DiMauro & Chris Forti ( New York , NY ) 8.10
Thank you for leading us on such a fantastic hike. I doubt whether we would have made it to the top without your guidance and know we would not have learned as much. I will definitely recommend you to any of my friends looking to make the hike.
Very truly yours,
Michael Repka ( Palo Alto , CA ) 8.10
John – Thanks for a great day. Grant my oldest son is already talking about coming back next year to do half dome
Andus ( Cambridge , MA ) 7.10
Hi Catherine … I wanted to say thanks for the excellence we experienced in your photo workshops with Walter and James. We had a unique and fortunate experience with perfect weather, and a personalized group. Wow, you can’t beat that. Thanks again … perhaps another time for another workshop.
Jim Radford ( Shoreview , MN ) 5.10
Chuck and I just wanted to let you know how much we enjoyed the tour of Hetch Hetchy on May 17. John was a fantastic guide and we would definitely go on another tour with you if we return to Yosemite .
The sparkling cider and strawberries were a nice surprise and the hats were definitely a hit! What a great 60th birthday surprise. Thank you so much for making our trip to Hetch Hetchy a memorable one. We wish you continued success in the future.
Chuck and Becky McClain ( Cypress , TX )
Still reliving the unbelevable experience 10 days later!!
Best Regards Tom Nezworski Fort Worth, TX 5.10
Dear Catherine and John,
I regret that Nina and I were not able to meet you this past weekend. Nonetheless, I wanted to thank you for helping to make our trip to Yosemite great.
The Photographers that you arranged for our workshops were extremely helpful. Each one had his own take on photography and really helped in my pictures. The workshops I have taken in the past really don’t even compare. They were geared around the instructors getting great images and not the students. Sure, they take you to great spots, but that’s it..They don’t even measure up to the photographers that you have on staff. I was pleasantly surprised to find that they were more concerned with the training the students than themselves.
Nina and I really enjoyed our session with Phil. The methods he showed us on taking abstract photographs were really new thing for me, but I have some really unique and fascinated images for my wall.
When we spent time with Walter Flint(two days), I really was skeptical. But, he rubbed off on me and I slowed down considerably. In the past, I would just photograph every little thing I would see. I would take a thousand images and none of them would be great. Some would be Good, but not great. After spending time with Walter, I really slowed down. I didn’t take as many images, but they’re great!
Our last workshop with Robb Hirsch was even better. Robb was so helpful in every way possible. He helped me in creating some amazing images that I didn’t expect from myself. I learned just as much from him as the other instructors, but in a different way. He spent time teaching me more about composition than I even imagined. And, I am really proud of myself and the images I created!
Once again, thank you for all your help!
Jon and Nina ( Delray Beach , FL ) 5.10
Thanks again for a wonderful experience!
Theo and Marlene ( St. Louis , MO ) 4.10
Thanks John – We had SUCH a great time! Thanks for everything. We all agree it was the best part of our trip. There is so much of that hike that we would have missed if you had not been there with us. You really helped us get the most of our very short time there. Now if I can just keep Cameron ON the trails…. haha – Thanks again. Keep in touch.
Marilyn ( Tampa , FL ) 4.10
thanks very much. It was a great class. Next time I am in Yosemite I will take another from you.
Neal ( Alexandria , VA ) 4.10
Hi Catherine and John
Just a quick note to say how much we enjoyed our hike out with John yesterday. We would certainly not have attempted such a walk in those conditions without either the equipment or calming influence that John brought. Thanks also for the BNYC restaurant tips!
Steve, Barbara, Anna and Stephie
x (Birmingham, UK) 4.10
Thank you so much for such a fun experience last week. Andrew and I had a blast in the rain and the snow on the way to inspiration point We took your suggestion and made the little trek to Mariposa Grove the next morning, which was wonderful. I think we were the first people in and we didn’t see a soul until we were almost back to the parking lot so we felt lucky to have gone early and gotten such a private walk.
Again, cant thank you enough.
Jessie (San Diego, CA) 3.10
Thanks very much. It was a great photo class. Walter was extremely helpful. He taught me a lot and I have adopted his mantra of always use a tripod. Please thank him again for me. I really appreciate Catherine’s assistance and patience with me on this trip. If I ever make it back to Yosemite I will sign up for another session.
Neal (Alexandria, VA) 3.10
just wanted to let you and Catherine know I had a great time on the photo tours. Robb was as nice a person as Walter, both very informative of the various aspects of the park. The mornings it snowed I got some great shots, which I’ll send to Walter & Robb.
Darren (Ashwood, Australia) 3.10
Hi John – Thanks for the photo – - you really know how to get that whole tree in! And, especially, thanks for our great snowshoe tour. It really made our weekend in Yosemite .
Happy trails. Linda ( Portola Valley , CA ) 1.10
Hi John and Catherine,
I would like to thank you both for making our visit to Yosemite perfect. John as you say, you let Yosemite do the work, it is breathtaking and only nature is in control of that. But without your company we would never of seen the parts of Yosemite that we did while on your hike, and those areas were even more beautiful than the valley.
Catherine, thank you for being patient and so very helpful while I tried to determine which hike to do. The hike on the day was perfect – challenging and rewarding, which is exactly what I was hoping to achieve. The fact that there was snow and ice involved made it more than a hike for us, it was also an adventure.
Thank you for giving us the opportunity to experience even more of Yosemite ‘s beauty than I would of thought possible, it was a highlight of our time in the USA.
Kind regards, Delwyn ( Portland , AUS) 1.10
Hi John, We are finally home in sunny Australia after our USA adventure and whilst we only spent a small amount of time in Yosemite it left the biggest of impressions on us both. Thank you so much to you, David and Lindsay for a great day! We had so much fun and absolutely fell in love with Yosemite . Hope to come back one day soon!
Cheers, Sarah & Adam ( Croudace Bay , Australia ) 12.09
Hi John and Catherine,
Happy New Year! Thanks for making my birthday in Yosemite so special. My friends and I thoroughly enjoyed our hikes (even Lisa!). The vistas were spectacular, and the naturalist and history talks made scenery even more fulfilling.
Marianne ( Foster City , CA ) 12.09
Thanks very much and Happy New Year. I had an awesome time in Yosemite and really enjoyed the hikes. I’d be pleased to recommend Y Explore to anyone making a trip to the park.
Sean ( UK via Washington , DC ) 12.09
Thanks again for a wonderful, memorable day in Yosemite ! Carolyn, the kids, and I claim it as the most favorite part of our trip. We’ve got some pretty incredible photos from that day. Again, thanks so much for accommodating us at the last minute. It truly made our trip special. Carolyn wants to come back for a week’s stay the next time, and we’ll be sure to call you well ahead of time!
Take care and good luck,
Jeff G ( Asheville , NC ) 11.09
We had a great time on our tour, though I realized I need to get in much better shape for our next visit there! You, Catherine and Mark were really great, and we look forward to another tour with you.
Take care- Donetta B. ( Geneva , OH ) 11.09
Thanks John. I had an amazing weekend and learned a ton from my time with Walter. He was really good and I had a good time. I will definitely be back up again! I appreciate you guys being so flexible with rescheduling.
Larry ( San Francisco ,CA 11.09)
I can’t believe a week has passed since the end of our visit to Yosemite ! I have spent a lot of that time working with all the photos I took last week…I was like a kid in a candy store!
I want to let you know how much I enjoyed the experience of meeting and learning from Walter. My expectations were well exceeded – he provided the insight, experience and technical expertise to validate many of the technical approaches I was taking that were ‘professional’; and suggest many new ones I had not adopted. The most important ones to me were selecting the correct aperture for a particular photo and effectively using the histogram.
Walter’s approach to composition is powerful. His examples challenge me to take more time to think about what I want to convey in my photographs and then be diligent in setting up my equipment to capture that image. His ability to ‘see’ the image technically and artistically before he sets up his equipment inspires me to become more educated and proficient about many aspects of photography.
This experience has really opened my eyes. I felt like I was ‘Grasshopper’ and Walter was ‘Master Po’ from the Kung Fu TV series! What a wonderful day I had…
Catherine, I also want you to know how effective you have been through the process of securing and coordinating my appointment with Y Explore. As the ‘face’ of the organization you provide an exceptional blend of knowledge, skill, and customer concern. I always felt secure that you had my interests at heart and that you were being diligent in orchestrating a memorable experience for me – and what a job you did!
Thanks to you and Walter!
Jim S. ( San Jose , CA ) 10.09
Thank you very much for guiding us up Half Dome we had a fantastic day that we will never forget. We really valued having both yourself and Joe there, it was great to learn more about the local area and wildlife. We also very much appreciated the toast on the top. It was a lovely gesture. Hopefully one day we will be able to return and do some other hikes with you!
Chloe and Chris ( Cheshire , UK ) 10.09
Thank you for an excellent and very memorable adventure. We had a great time and the hike with you was really one of the highlights of our trip! I still can’t believe that we couldn’t see any climbers on El Capitan until you pointed them out! And I am still very proud that I dared to look over the edge facing Yosemite Valley The rest of our trip was also very nice and I don’t think it will take too long before we visit CA again!
Mia and Per ( Luxembourg ) 9.09
John- Thanks so much to you and Catherine for making our trip to Yosemite so very memorable. We had a terrific time on our hike with you. Your extensive knowledge of the area and delightful disposition made it the highlight of our trip. I hope next time we come back to explore Yosemite we will be able to graduate to the next hiking level!
All the best,
Janice Vitale ( Washington , DC ) 9.09
I speak on behalf of Fi and Jess when I say that we had one of the best days of our lives when we did the hike in Yosemite. We weren’t expecting the views to be so spectacular and it really was a once in a lifetime experience. We all felt that we gained lots of knowledge about the history of the National Park and the wildlife within it. When we got back we showed our families the photos and passed on some of that knowledge. We’ve also both decided we loved California so much that we’ll definitely be back there one day, hopefully in the not too distant future. When we do return we want to come back to Yosemite with you guys and who knows, maybe we’ll do Half Dome?!?!
It was great to meet you and was brilliant to have a tour guide who was so friendly and who we could relate to. I’ve got to say though I’m extremely jealous as I sit at my desk in an office block in cold, cloudy Manchester when you’ll probably be heading off for a trek in a few hours time. Ah well, once again thanks for such a good time, all the memories and I’m sure we’ll be seeing you again one day.
Fi, Jess & Anthony ( Cheshire , UK ) 9.09
We wanted to take the time to mention that we had a really outstanding experience with Walter Flint this past weekend. He really took time to learn what our priorities and styles are and what we could benefit from the most. He also made sure we understood the beauty of Yosemite from the perspective of an insider.
One the first day, my wife started with minimal knowledge of how to operate all the numerous settings on the camera, but Walter’s explanation of the 3 basic rules of the camera setting allowed her to maneuver her SLR on her own. At the same time, he took the time to explain to both of us the more artistic aspects of photography once we had the technical part understood.
The second day in the Valley, we started at 3pm and spent time learning to see things differently and understand how the camera might interpret them. Also, Walter made it a point to help us notice things that we might not have noticed before from a photographic standpoint. He also helped us identify the differences in our styles and how they complement each other.
With all that said, we can only tell you that we absolutely enjoyed every minute spent working with Walter and we definitely look forward to coming back.
Carlos & Olga ( Irvine , CA ) 9.09
My friend Anthony and I had a great time hiking to May Lake and up the summit of Mt. Hoffman last week. John did a terrific job as guide and got me up to the top (which I wasn’t expecting to do!). I will definitely recommend your group to friends.
Thanks again for a memorable hike.
Jack P ( Houston , TX ) 8.09
Dear John and Catherine:
I wanted to extend my gratitude to you both for this incredible Birthday adventure. It was extremely empowering to get to the top of that dome. Thank you!
I wish you both all the best in your business venture. I admire what you do, and I have certainly recommended you when talking to family and friends. Thank you once again for your time, professionalism, and quality customer services.
Linda C ( Campbell , CA ) 8.09
We wanted to let you know that we had a fabulous hike with David Lukas. He provided our family with a lot of information about Yosemite Valley and the Sierras, and he made the expedition very enjoyable for every member of our family. He really connected with each of our kids, and was very attuned to what we wanted to get out of the time that we were spending with him. We hope to return to the Valley again soon, and explore other parts with your team.
Steve K ( Encino , CA ) 8.09
We enjoyed our trip very much and the experience will remain in our memories! Robb was great, friendly and highly qualified. We were so lucky to have had him as our guide.
Dominique ( Lucerne , Switzerland ) 8.09
I just wanted to say thanks soooo much to you, John and Alexa. We had a great time today. It was a great experience and they had infinite patience. My son, Jesse, said John was “super-great” which in kidspeak is the ultimate compliment. From the initial booking to the follow up to the actual hike, you guys are truly a first class organization. You have big fans in L.A. Thanks, again!
All my best,
Stewart ( Manhattan Beach , CA ) 8.09
I’d liked to thank you for the wonderful experience my family had at Yosemite with your guide David Lukas. It was our first time at the park and we did a family hike with David to Sentinel Dome and Taft Point. David was very informative and kept my kids engaged in the experience. I was worried traveling with 3 kids who are 16, 13, and 11. On the way up to meeting place there was a bit of pessimism coming from them but all I heard during and after the hike was how much they were enjoying themselves. It was a beautiful day at Yosemite – we came out with many great pictures and memories. Thank you again for a great time in Yosemite .
Janet and Scott S ( Shoreham , NY ) 7.09
John, I wanted to say how much we appreciated your two days of great hikes, wisdom, camaraderie, kindness on starting times and more!
Peter E ( Alexandria , VA ) 7.09
Back home now after a great holiday. We had a brilliant two weeks and for me the Y Explore Hike with you was the highlight of the whole holiday. Thanks & hoping to visit Yosemite again at some future date!
John ( Abingdon , UK ) 7.09
John, thanks we had a great trip. We greatly appreciated the hike, everyone had a great time.
Jkt ( Atlanta , GA ) 7.09
Thanks for the great photo session at Yosemite – I learnt a lot.
Andrew ( AUSTRALIA ) 7.09
It’s Tuesday, five days after our Half Dome hike and I’m still on a high. Our hike was amazing and something I will never forget. I know that your encouragement, support, and knowledge are the reasons that I made it to the top. From my first phone call to you and Catherine, I felt confident that I was in the right hands. Thank you so much for a life long experience. Gary P (Menlo Park , CA) 7.09
We miss Yosemite! Thank you again for a fabulous day. Our kids are still talking about it to their friends.
Our best to your sweet family,
Sarah, Gary & Family ( Austin , TX ) 6.09
I want to express a very big thank you to Catherine DeGrazio for being so great with the information and registration and follow-up including the phone message in our lodge room the day before the session with Walter Flint. Impressive service and a great attitude!
Now the main event, my (our) time with Walter Flint…great. Simply great! Nothing but praise. He’s a good teacher, to be sure, but also a great guy and fun to spend time with while doing some serious learning. Honestly if we had more time at Yosemite after the first session, I would have booked another one. No hesitation.
I would highly recommend the program to anyone keen on photography and wanting to take it to the next level at a fabulous location and with a fun, imaginative, professional photographer, Walter.
I can’t wait to get back–my wife, Khun Ben, wants to go back in the winter (and this from someone that is from Thailand where it is always tropical:-)).
Best Regards from Vietnam,
I was not really sure what to expect in Yosemite , but it turned out to be an amazing introduction and I left the experience moved by what I saw and learned. I feel encouraged to learn more about Leave No Trace and will continue to venture outdoors and remember to notice the little things (not just the big ones) that make our natural treasures special .Thanks for everything! Keep in touch!
Chris S ( Richmond , VA ) 6.09
I had a great time working with Walter. He was very professional and helpful. I learned a lot from him, and picked up many valuable pointers. He was a pleasure to work with, and he also went out of his way to make my wife feel welcome during the photo shoot. If we make it back to the Yosemite area again I would definitely look to do another photography tour with Y Explore.
As a side note, Catherine was very helpful in setting up the trip. She helped me with her explanations of the various tours, and we exceptionally courteous. All in all – you guys seem to be doing a great job.
Greg ( Houston , TX ) 6.09
I wanted to thank you and James again for a great time on our 3 days of hiking in Yosemite. I really appreciated your knowledge of the area and the help you provided us along the way to complete the hikes–particularly the Half Dome hike on Saturday. I know that I could have not made it to the top without your help. I would’ve taken one look at those chains and the crowd on them and decided that it wasn’t for me. Thanks to you, I can feel proud that I managed to get up there (and back down again!).
Thanks again. We would definitely recommend your company to any of our friends interested in doing something similar.
Kelly C ( Washington ) 6.09
Thank you so much for making the hike such a wonderful experience for my boys and me. From the initial call to Catherine for information to John’s final handshake it couldn’t have been more perfect. You both run your business so professionally and your rating on Trip Advisor as the No.1 thing to do at Yosemite is right on.
Our entire 10 day trip was amazing. It included a bike ride across the Golden Gate bridge, SF Giant games, Cirque KA, and golf at beautiful courses in LV but none of these come close to the hike to see the falls. It was breathtaking and we will never forget it.
John, the boys really thought the world of you. Thank you for guiding us. How neat for them to see how people get to where they are in their lives – to start out on Wall Street and end up CEO of Y Explore. It lets them see that they can do anything – the world is theirs.
Oh, Alexa was wonderful. She was extremely personable and we enjoyed talking with her. Thank you for everything.
Laura S (CT) 6/09
I just wanted to thank you for the great hike you took us on. Since I am not in really excellent shape, I wasn’t sure that I would be able to do it, yet the trails you took us on, while challenging, were still manageable, fun, and beautiful. I had a great time and I am most certainly glad that I did it. Also, listening to your take on all those movies was great as well, yet I have to say the Caddyshack is still my favorite funny movie! Thank you very much.
Chris S (CT) 6/09
We just wanted to thank you for the amazing trek up to the top of half dome. I’ve been to Yosemite before, but have not experienced the Valley in such a personal way. Your knowledge was what I wanted to hear, as I felt I learned more about the history and monuments with you present. I felt your personality was just right for our group and thank you for getting us to the top safely.
Both Misha and I talked many times about how, in the beginning of the trek, it feels like you don’t need a guide, but as you move along over the hours ahead, it becomes clear that the guide is there to push his wisdom of the climb onto the clients, who really don’t get how important it may be to keep moving before the cables get too backed up. More importantly, we felt like you really stepped up by having us focus on the cable climb and to stay together. Your coaching made us stay focused and got us to the top safely. Thank you again.
David B and Misha L (WA) 5/09
First of all, we’d like to thank both you and John for everything you’ve done for us.
About the hiking, it was one of the most spectacular things we’ve done. Certainly the high point of our entire trip. Besides that, all the help that you gave us regarding restaurants, massage, tips in general. It was really wonderful. Thanks!
Luis and Ana (Brasil) 5/09
Overall, we thought the experience was excellent – Next time (and we hope there will be one), we’d go for something further off the normal (easily accessible) trekking route.
Richard and Melany ( UK ) 5/09
Thanks, John. We had an incredible day with you and Christelle. Thank you for everything, we’ll always remember this as an extraordinary day. Give our best to Catherine and Christelle, you were all so accommodating. Also, we stopped in Sonora for dinner at the restaurant (Diamondback) you and Christelle suggested, it was perfect.
Madonna B (NY) 4/09
We thoroughly enjoyed our day and David Lukas was extremely informative and having spent the day before exploring the valley the subsequent walk gave us more insight into the wildlife and geology of the area. We would highly recommend your efficient service to future visitors of Yosemite.
Charlie W ( UK ) 4/09
John we had a great time! You guys were great and we had a blast. Hope we make it back again next year! We loved the hike and all of Yosemite!
Karen (VA) 4/09
Thanks for the photo session. It was great. I learned a lot of stuff that I will carry with me for ages.
Andrei D. (NY) 4/09
Hi John and Catherine,
We are back home now. We had a wonderful time today! We really appreciated the personalized and attentive tour. It was nice not to be rushed and to be able to take the tour at the pace which Nathey ended up setting. Zeb is a great guy! We hope we have a chance to take another tour sometime with you again. Please keep up the great work!
Thank you again,
Dan, Hiromi and Nathey M (CA) 3/09
Hi Catherine – I just wanted to thank you and John for a lovely trip to Yosemite .
I really had fun on the snowshoe, and Philip really enjoyed the Photography with Evan. I am home, and already missing it. I appreciate all your help, and will recommend yexplore to anyone heading your way.
Sara (CA) 2/09
The trip was nothing short of amazing. Weather, Phil and Yosemite created quite an experience. Phil is a fountain of knowledge and was really fun to just try and see Yosemite as he does. Photography has three main levels (well, so far for me anyways after 10 years of doing it) first is figuring out your camera, 2 nd is figuring out what to shoot, third is figuring out what to shoot given the light, pattern, composition and 40 million other factors. Phil is so far down the 3 rd path that I was in awe of how he could just walk by what I thought were photo opportunities because he knew it wouldn’t work. It was great to just learn by osmosis. Thanks again.
Richard B (FL) 2/20/09
A great day and the highlight of a fantastic holiday…so nice to be back to the doom and gloom Pretty sure we’ll see you again one day. Thanks again for a great day and experience.
Jon A ( UK ) 1/27/09
I enjoyed my session with Walter. I found Walter to be helpful, instructive and definitely fell I’ve improved on my skills. I have much to learn and Walter was another important step in my journey. Thank you.
Robert A. W (CA) 1/8/09
Lisa and I totally enjoyed the Half Dome hike you led for us last month. Thanks again for being such an inspiring and masterful guide. The day was exceptional in every possible way.
Lori D ( San Clemente , CA ) 10/9/08
We had a fantastic time! It was great fun, Zeb was fantastic, Catherine was wonderful with helping us set this up…overall, a great experience!
Thanks again so very much!
All the best,
Helene and Joanne (NJ&CT) 10/8/08
Hi John and Catherine
Just wanted to say thank you very very much for a wonderful time at Yosemite – from Catherine helping me organise an itinerary on short notice to Robb’s attentive photography lesson and John’s great hike and adventure with the wasps! I thoroughly enjoyed myself and just couldn’t even imagine the things I would see over those 3 days. Yosemite is definitely something else – I’m still a little speechless when describing it to my friends! When I come around again, I will definitely give Yexplore a call.
Take care guys and hopefully I can drop by again soon.
Edward (Sydney , Australia) 10/6/08
Thank you again for a great trip on August 17th. It was fabulous. I really appreciated your patience as it probably looked like I wasn’t going to make it. I hope the fact that we made it overshadowed the fact that we took 15 r/t to do it!! I actually hope to make the trip again some time, this time without the dehydrated pineapple! Thanks again.
Annette (Chicago, IL) 9/21/08
Many thanks to you and Catherine.
Our hikes with John were among the best highlights of our twelve day vacation and we will remember them for the rest of our lives.
Rest assured we will recommend Y Explore to all of our friends, and we’ll be in touch the next time we visit Yosemite.
Rob W (Summit, NJ) 8/27/08
John, Catherine and Travis,
Thank you so much for looking after us in Yosemite . We thoroughly enjoyed our hike and in the temperatures we had that day it was just right! If the distances were a little closer you would see us more often but rest assured if we do return to the area we will look you up. Best of luck with the business – what a place to work !!
Phil P ( England , UK ) 8/21/08
We have now arrived back in UK and I just wanted to thank you again for the lovely time we had with you and Travis. You gave us so much information about the park, its history as well as showing us amazing sights and pointing out the different trees and creatures. Our hike was the highlight of our entire trip. As you suggested we had lunch at Whoa Nellies having visited Bodie the day after we saw you.
England is grey, wet and windy – wish we were back with you in Yosemite !
Kate ( England , UK ) 8/17/08
The hike was truly the highlight (no pun intended!) of our time in Yosemite. We have enjoyed talking about it with each other and as we tell others about our trip. You and Travis were awesome, and it is an experience we will not forget! Good luck to you!
Shannon (Spring, TX) 8/6/08
We had so much fun our hike; it was definitely a highlight of our trip. Thanks again for everything!
Alana ( New York , NY ) 8/6/08
It was our pleasure and joy having our tours with you and your team. Additional to your expert advice and knowledge of the zone and botanicals around us, we all were very happy and comfortable with you and your team. I would like to thank and also congratulate you for the way you run your service oriented company. You will have in all of us a strong positive word of mouth. I’m sure that with the love and passion you put to your work, this will be the key of success for your business.
Felipe V (Medellin, Colombia , SA) 7/27/08
Thanks again for a great day. I can’t imagine that we would have made it to the top of Half Dome without your guidance (and without Travis pushing us from behind). Both Steve and I count it as one of the highlight achievements of our lives. Libby also felt very good about making it as far as she did.
Best regards and best of luck for your business.
Phil M ( Los Angeles , CA ) 7/22/08
What a tremendous adventure we enjoyed, and your guidance was calm, patient, and intelligent all the way. We will most certainly advocate your services to any and all who inquire regarding trips such as this one.
Steve T. (Santa Clara , CA) Jul 21, 2008
thanks again for a wonderful memory for the entire family, i told everyone back in concord, calif about your terrific services. and thanks for the info on the falls, really classy of you following up like that.
cheers and give me a call if ever in annapolis again
CAPT Greg M (USNA Annapolis, MD) 7/18/08
John, thanks again for guiding us on our hike last weekend. It was a great adventure, and the views from Sentinel Dome were truly splendid.
Thanks again, and take care.
Pat F (Phoenix , AZ) 7/10/08
What a great trip we had, thank you. My legs are just recovering now. It was great getting to know you and if Travis had spoken, I am sure I would have liked to get know him, too (kidding – he was great). The boys are still talking about the trip!
All my best wishes,
John (Seattle, WA) 7/5/08
Thank you so much for the guided hike on Wednesday. We had a wonderful time and even though it was a little challenging for me at the end of the trail, I really appreciated all of the patience and motivation from John to get me back up to the top of Glacier Point. We are so happy that we chose Yexplore for our hike and we will make sure to spread the word about your company. We didn’t have nearly enough time in Yosemite and plan to come back hopefully in the near future. The hike was definitely the highlight of our entire vacation, especially seeing the mama and baby black bears at the end. Incredible!
Again, thank you for such an awesome experience.
Laura W (Collegeville , PA) 7/1/08
We are finally back in PR…thanks a lot for sharing Yosemite with us, we had a great a time. We also wanted to let you know that while we were leaving Glacier Point’s parking lot we were lucky enough to see a black bear with two cubs hanging around the parking lot. It was truly a remarkable experience.
Once again thanks a lot.
Javier (Guaynabo, Puerto Rico) 6/08
My plein air work has improved significantly since working with James. His advice of painting without my glasses helped me avoid getting bogged down with detail. It certainly has been worthwhile for me and I look forward returning again and again and taking more workshops with James in the future.
–Jonathan ( Brooklyn , NY ) 5/29/08
Just wanted to say a quick thank you for an already amazing hike and that you and Ondrea just made it better. Thank you for posting the pics on you site, Lucas loved them…I mean him. He also wanted to say, “Thank you John for a fun hike.” And for also being a great buddy.
I (Beth) wanted to say that I learned a lot about the nature of the area. Such beautiful flowers and trees, I have lots in pictures, so thanks. We look forward to this again and will look you up the next time we plan a trip to Yosemite .
Beth C. ( Ontario , CA ) 5/29/08
As a follow-up to the Y explore photography workshops in Hetch Hetchy on May 18th-20th, I wanted to express how truly worthwhile I found the entire experience. I attended the Sunday nature hike with James McGrew, the morning Introductory Photography course with Evan Russel, and the Evening Light Photo course with Christine White Loberg. As well, I went to the nighttime lectures on Restore Hetch Hetchy and Art in Yosemite. All of the guides were thorough in their explanations and knowledge of Hetch Hetchy in its surroundings and history, as well as the artistic component to the landscape. I also would recommend Josh Cripps, who acted as assistant on all of my activities, as a full time guide to your tours. He was just as, if not more, knowledgeable on the mechanics of the photography as all of the other guides and seemed to be a great addition to the team. It was a true pleasure to take part in the Y explore experience, and I will be recommending it to friends and family members who happen to be in the area in the future.
Iris R (Glenwood Springs, CO) 5/27/08
Betsey and I would like to thank you for a wonderful and fun filled three days of hiking Hetch Hetchy. The scenery was spectacular, the guides top notch, and with perfect sized groups it was a fun and memorable experience.
Christine led the Sunday Nature hike with an enthusiastic fever that infected us as well, and instilled in us an appreciation for the beauty of this corner of Yosemite . She showed us more than the spectacular granite formations and the powerful sweeping scenery, she caught us up in the power of the outdoors to see the range of life, from the flower to the mountain and all that exists in between. John was his professional and knowledgeable self. His mastery of the camera, the history of the land, and the flora and fauna always brings new perspective and a greater appreciation for Yosemite and the Sierra range. I always learn something new, and he helps me become a better photographer. Curtis supported us on two of the three trips and was helpful to no end. He was ready with his Sierra field guide and constantly helping the group members. As we were going over a rough patch of trail, he was right there offering Betsey his trekking pole without a blink of the eye. That is true customer service. It is good to see the young generation have an appreciation of the outdoors and be interested in what it is all about.
The trip format was well organized and we both liked the evening programs. The presentation by James was a great combination of art, photography and Yosemite history. Unfortunately we could not make Christine’s photo talk, as we had to high tail it back home for work the next day. But we left with a smile and some great memories thanks to you and your team.
Mark Z and Betsey ( Half Moon Bay , CA ) 5/26/08
Wow, just wow! My brother-in-law (Alberto Martinez) and I (Dave Hahlbeck) received these Photo Tours as X-mass gifts. I have never been on any type of photo tour before and did not know what to expect. We are both novice photographers with a love for the outdoors and photography. When we arrived we met everyone and we headed out with our Tour Guide John DeGrazio and Professional Photographer John S. They gave us their backgrounds and some very interesting knowledge about the park and it’s history. Our first stop we wandered into this green meadow with an awesome view of El Capitan and started clicking away. John and John spotted about ten climbers scattered about the wall of El Capitan. They were barley visible by the naked eye. That gave us all a great perspective of how massive El Capitan is…it is awesome! We started hiking again heading up. During this 2 mile trek John S. would stop several times to show us awesome vantage points of Ribbon Falls, Gun Sight, Bridalvale Falls, The Leaning Tower, Cathedral, Half Dome and El Capitan and of course we all snapped away. We reached our final vantage point…a beautiful and aw inspiring view of Bridalvale Falls. This point of view was just amazing. At the beginning of the hike John S. said we might see a rainbow in the mists of Bridalveil Falls due to the weather. Within 15 minutes of snapping pictures of the gushing falls the rainbow started to appear and just intensified for about 30-40 minutes. I couldn’t stop taking pictures. I tried everything in my camera bag. John S. was giving us his expert advice and ideas on how to shoot the rainbows and different ways to frame the shots. It was an exciting moment and I felt very privileged to see such a sight. After about an hour of clicking away the rainbow faded and we headed down. We took some last photos of the warm late afternoon light hitting the valley walls and said our good byes. I have to say that the tour was handled very professionally. Thank You Catherine for all your help with all the information and the bookings (our wives said wonderful comments about you and how you made things so easy for them). Thank You John DeGrazio for leading the tour and finding us even tho we parked in the wrong parking lot hehe. You have great knowledge of the areas plant and wildlife. Oh and Thank You for the mosquito repellent! And Thank You John S. for your expertise in photography and your awesome vantage points you took us and your great knowledge of the wildlife, park history and plants. You are all a great team! Once again, Thank You for the experience and I hope to join you all again in a different adventure.
Cheers, Dave H from Tracy, California 5/5/08
We were all more than satisfied with the hike in all ways. Your input in choosing this hike is very much appreciated. The timing fit in our weekend smoothly and the level of difficulty suited the group well. It was so nice to be virtually alone on the trail and have a peaceful and beautiful picnic spot. Your walking pace was perfectly tailored as were your historical tales of the valley, flora and fauna educational talks and natural history discussions. You added so much to the hike that we were all talking about coming back again and doing a longer hike with you. Thank you again from myself and the rest of the group.
Barbara S ( San Luis Obispo , CA ) 4/17/08
Thanks for a hike of a lifetime
I just wanted to let you know what an extraordinary time we had on our customized hike. Peggy and I were just blown away by the beauty of it and are so grateful for you expertise in leading us to some spots we never would have found on our own. We especially enjoyed your bits of knowledge of the park and its history plus the hints on how to take good pictures. And thanks for extending your day a bit so we could do the trek down to the grove in addition to the lookout, you are awesome!
I am so impressed with Catherine’s and your attention to detail. It’s obvious that you love what you do and are cultivating an environment for others to appreciate this gorgeous national park as much as you do.
If you’re traveling with recalcitrant teens, consider YExplore as an antidote.
In the hopes of enticing our teenage daughters–avid hikers, not!–to get off the beaten trail, we contacted YExplore in late July and arranged for John to lead us on a hike. I warned him about the sullen teenager thing. He said he had just the outing in mind, not too strenuous, which would end with a relatively easy climb. “Don’t feel bad if they don’t want to go uphill,” I said.
The day went about as well as it could have gone. John was terrific with our teens–friendly, low-key, and engaging. (In other words, way younger and cooler than their parents.) And the girls liked him. He took us first on a hike to Taft Point, a dramatic view of Yosemite Valley and El Capitan from a height of several thousand feet, with terrifying drop-offs. That got everyone’s attention. Then he brought us to a hill that we all climbed, astonishingly, without protest for more great views.
It was a memorable outing, which I regularly return to in my mind’s eye. We did get off the beaten track. And our daughters got to experience thrills and a sense of accomplishment that we could never have coaxed them to on our own.
Just wanted to thank you again in arranging the photo session and fantastic hike on the Mist Trail. My son and I had a wonderful time in the beauty and serenity of Yosemite thanks to your personal attentiveness and detailed knowledge of the park. I look forward to working with you in the future when we return to Yosemite, perhaps with other members of my family. For other clients who might be wondering, I would definitely recommend visiting Yosemite Valley in the offpeak periods such as the winter when there are fewer people, the weather is still reasonable and and you can appreciate the natural beauty without the crowds. Of course, seeing the bears in their natural habitat and a mountain lion while on the hike with John was a highlight of the trip!
On behalf of my group, thank you so much for a wonderful Yosemite Experience. We felt by getting south, east to Tioga Road and West at the Crane flat area and beyond and with all the hikes, that we got a good sampling of Yosemite’s wonders. As with my other hiking trips, this introduction trip whets my appetite for more adventures.
I want to thank you, again, for our recent adventure. It meant a great deal to me to be able to complete all three of the hikes that I had wanted to do at Yosemite. Along with Half Dome, I have completed all of my goals–based on my experience of the last few years, I wasn’t sure it would ever happen and certainly not all in the same year. I could not have done it without you. Add to that, the early winter storm is not something that I could, or would, have ventured out in. I will long remember our snowy hikes, it was something that I only expected to see in a movie. It was quite unreal and I’m so happy that I could experience it in real life.
I just wanted to thank you for the great trip. I truly enjoyed it and your company. From the photo tips and instruction to the personal service I felt spoiled. And of course the Yosemite scenery never fails to bring a sense of wonder… I hope to enjoy many more trips with you.
Thank you so much for leading our two families on a wonderful hike. This hike will be a treasured memory for everyone in our group. The sense of accomplishment we walked away with after savoring the magnificent sites was a great family experience. What’s made the trip especially memorable was your and Brian’s charismatic guidance, the stories you told and the way you engaged every member of our group. The Leave No Trace teachings culminating with the game at the end was great fun in light of the competitive nature of our families. I can see the teachings resonating in all our minds. All in all an experience of a lifetime! I look forward to returning to Yosemite and going out with you
on another exceptional tour.
Just arrived home. Enjoyed the hike and you very much, and SO pleased to see Hetch Hetchy ( or should I say Yosemite National Park Hetch-Hetchy?. Grateful also that I was in your hands being the epitome a novice hiker. I thank so much for sharing, and doing kindly.
I just wanted to say thanks again for a most enjoyable hike. I would not have made it if it were not for you being along; I would have given up. Yesterday we did the Grand tour and it was comforting that our guide Bill and you told the same story of the history of Yosemite. The other people on the tour were so hoping to see a bear and we enjoyed being able to tell them that we had seen and taken pictures of not only a bear but also the hang gliders. They were envious. Looking forward to doing another hike with you, will better prepare for the next one. We have fallen for Yosemite and will be back.