Meet our Trail Guides…
Our Trailbound guides:
• Began as trip participants – just like you
• Were chosen for their friendly, positive, and sensitive attitudes
• Are certified in CPR and first aid
• Enjoy, and are experienced in, guiding women’s hiking
Carol Ruhter (aka “Scout”)
is Trailbound Trips
founder and guide. When other little girls were
playing with dolls, 5-year-old Carol was leading
imaginary friends on nature "tours" of her farm and
creek. Who knew that 35 years later, shed choose
that for her life path?
Carol founded Trailbound in 1996 to help women
experience natures magnificence and its life lessons
and to inspire womens confidence, camaraderie,
and playful, adventurous spirits. Shes been
interviewed on those topics on several national radio
shows and authored pieces published in Pearl Girls:
Encountering Grit, Experiencing Grace and in
Daily Seeds ~ From Women Who Walk in Faith.
Her love for nature was nurtured by her farm
upbringing and her family. Carol and her husband
have two adult children who live in Colorado.
Connie Brownell (aka "Running Water")
serves as a guide for Trailbounds weeklong trips, including Montana,
Utah, Maine, North Carolina, Oregon, and New Yorks Finger Lakes. She grew up hiking, camping,
and skiing in Montana and recently returned to the mountains she had missed
for so long. A retired high school science teacher, Connie shares her vast
knowledge of plants, animals, and geology. She enjoys boating, skiing,
hiking, traveling to new places, golfing, photography, and knitting --
and finds inspiration in creations beauty, from rocks and plants to
the stars above. Connie and her husband have three married daughters and
Debbie Hager (aka “Lambeau Leather Lucy”)
doubles as Trailbounds business manager and a co-leader for our
getaways and weeklong trips. Shes been with Trailbound since
2006, and has co-led most of our trips at some point over those
years; two of her favorites are Minnesotas Superior Hiking
Trail and Maines Acadia National Park. Shes a farm
girl...born and raised on fresh air and exercise, and is an avid
hiker, fitness-walker, snorkeler, and kayaker. When not hitting the
trails or travelling with her husband, Debbie works in hospital
patient relations. She and her husband have one adult son.
Marty Ramey (aka "Acorn").
You can find Marty hiking mountains almost every day, rain or shine, as she seeks inspiration for
thought-provoking devotions discussion-starters on which she collaborates for Trailbound.
In addition, she serves as a business consultant for the company. She currently works for
a small family-owned insurance agency, is passionate about serving others, and has collaborated with Carol Ruhter on
a collection of outdoor devotions.
She and her husband have two adult sons, who bring them immeasurable joy.
Joyce Baila (aka "Hellbender")
serves as a guide for Trailbounds week-long trips,
including Vermont, North Carolinas Blue Ridge Mountains and Acadia. A former
physical education teacher, Joyce loves the outdoors and has never met a hike
that she didnt like. A dedicated adventure-lover, Hellbender has viewed
nearly all of the major western Carolina waterfalls; kayaked Western North
Carolina and South Florida rivers; hiked Bryce Canyon, Yosemite, Zion and
Smoky Mountain National Parks; worked 10 summers at a boys outdoor
adventure-camp; and scuba dived on the Great Barrier Reef. Of these events,
her favorite all-time highlight was winning the lottery for a permit (with
her military son) to hike and explore "The Wave" at the border
of AZ and UT. She is a pickleball enthusiast and an ambassador for that sport
in Palm Beach County, Florida and amuses her friends with her cartooning
skills. Hellbender winters in south Florida and spends May through October
in the Blue Ridge Mountains with her husband "Bear" of 36 years.
They raised three boys who are working on families of their own.
(Note: Hellbenders are rare salamanders in N. Carolina streams.)
Colette Szczesny (aka "Zip")
serves as a guide for Trailbounds weeklong trips, including
Acadia National Park and Utah. Colette thrives on being outdoors
working in her flower gardens, hiking, sailing, skiing, kayaking,
biking and - most recently - playing pickle ball! (Do it while the
body still says "yes" is her motto!) Colette is a recently
retired business owner and serves on several non-profit boards. She
enjoys cooking, entertaining, world travel, and most important,
spending time with her husband. She loves walking with her dogs and
is an active volunteer with a Labrador Rescue & Adoption. She feels
very blessed to now live in two beautiful areas of the country,
southern Wisconsin and Utah. Colette and her husband have one adult
son who lives in Chicago.
Jody Winfield (aka “Rebel”)
guides for Trailbounds weeklong trips, including
Sedona, North Carolina, Florida, Oregon, Acadia, Yellowstone,
Glacier, Big Sur, Vermont, and Shenandoah. She
is great fun out on the trail (living up to her trail name),
knowledgeable, personable, and safety-conscious. Her love for
nature started at a very young age ... growing up in the
mountains of Colorado, exploring with her family, snow skiing,
and motorcycle riding. Jody and her husband live in Western
North Carolina. In addition to hiking, she enjoys golfing,
motorcycle riding, and promoting a not-for-profit student
Nancy Austin (aka "Hawkeye")
is our fabulous Facebook correspondent!
She joined Trailbound in January 2009, happy to meet other women who
enjoyed the beauty of natures scaled-back winter landscapes. She
hiked weekly in the Chicago area with Trailbounds "Wednesday
Girls," and has also ventured with us to Oregon, Utah, Wyoming,
Minnesota, Arkansas, Shenandoah, and to the North Woods for two dogsled
adventures. She moved to the Kansas City area in 2013 and is now back home
in the state where her love of nature was nurtured as a little girl on
weekend camping explorations at a lake near her small town. Her hobbies
include fitness walking, photography, volunteering in the community, and
quilting (she owned her own quilt shop). Nancy and her husband have one
Janet Hillier (aka "Musher") guides for Trailbounds
day-trip bike rides and some getaways, including the Apostle Islands. She
earned her trail name on two Trailbound dogsled trips, and has also joined us
for our Wild Woman Tri, Sedona trip, and moonlight kayaking. Jan loves
outdoor activities; on any given day, youll find her running, biking,
swimming, or kayaking. Shes also a half-marathoner and is on a bowling
league. She quips with a smile, "Sometimes I just let the day take me
wherever it is I should be going." Jan has a daughter who is married.
Donna Lill (aka "Jet") is happiest when outdoors on the
trail. The simplicity of hiking, biking, kayaking, and skiing in the great
outdoors leaves her in a perpetual positive frame of mind. The opportunity
to share the wonder of nature with like-minded women is very special. Of all
the activities, she likes the speed involved with downhill skiing and
cycling, so she is known on the trail as "Jet." Donna is retired
from teaching, and keeps busy with her two grown sons, extended family,
crafts, music, and volunteering.
Marlene Tres (aka "River Rat") guides for
Trailbounds day trips and getaways. She grew up literally following
in her fathers footsteps, as he took the family exploring and camping
in Americas wild places, particularly the Southwest. Marlene earned
her "River Rat" trail name on numerous whitewater rafting trips
through the Grand Canyon. She serves as the early childhood director at
a Lutheran school and is involved in church and community volunteer
projects. Marlene and her husband have a daughter and a son in
Linda DAgostino (aka "Husky") serves
as a guide for the day and weekend hikes in northern Illinois. Linda is
a University of IL Master Gardener since 2008, who is dedicated to
continuous learning and sharing all things flora and fauna. She enjoys
hiking, bicycling, boot camp, scrapbooking, reading, crafting, and
exploring the hiking trails in the Southwest. A year ago, she left her
job at the College of American Pathologists as a Technical Specialist
and now works as a Direct Support Specialist at Northpointe Resources in
Zion, IL, which is a provider for the developmentally disabled.
She and her husband have an adult son and daughter.
Julie Kanak (aka "Wander Woman")
is a guide for local day trips and getaways. She spent most of her professional life in the non-profit
world ... at a foster care agency, a hospice program, as a professional mediator and as executive director
of an international peace organization. No matter where she was working though, this "unabashed tree-hugger"
always had time to get out into nature! She loves to wander the world with her family, her friends, and also just
Julie lives in Barrington, is the proud mother of 4 wonderful young men, has been married to her
college sweetheart for 30+ years, and is currently enrolled in a Masters program in Social Justice.
She loves reading and travelling, hosting exchange students, singing (poorly) and dancing (wildly). She looks
forward to getting to know Trailbounds "Wild Women" and exploring together!
Karen Pogalz (aka "Cairn") is a suburban girl
with a wild womans heart. A guide for Trailbounds Northern
Illinois day trips, Karens quest for adventure was fostered at an early
age through regular road trips in the family station wagon. Canoeing through
the Canadian wilderness and backpacking through Europe developed a
wanderlust that could only be tamed by love.
Being married for over 25 years has been an incredible journey.
Karen and her husband have two teenage boys that take them to wild places
like the skiing in Lutsen, MN and day hiking the Appalachian Trail. Karen
and her family like to raise chickens, ride bikes, and plan their next
Sara Reif (aka “Rocky”)
handles Trailbounds online registration and payment systems. She
joined in on Trailbounds day trips before relocating to Loveland,
CO, in 2012. Rocky spends as much time as possible at her
"namesake," nearby Rocky Mountain National Park, and has
developed a love for hiking, snowshoeing, biking, and kayaking. She
and her husband have two adult sons, one beautiful daughter-in-law,
and a Portuguese Water Dog.
Diana Schmid (aka "Spidey") is our "
virtual guide", tweaking, updating, and expanding Trailbounds
website. One of her favorite parts of being our web designer is being
one of the first to find out about all the amazing Trailbound adventures.
Spidey has been hiking with Trailbound for 12 years
trips, Midwest getaways, and weeklong trips. She especially loved her
trip to Glacier, because the scenery is breathtaking. Diana enjoys fresh
air, hiking, games, dancing, music, and spending time at their
second home in North Carolina. On Sundays, youll find her
tapping her toes and "tooting her flute" with the praise
band at her church. In her "day job," Diana customizes
software as a programmer for a consulting company. She and her
husband have two adult children.
Renee Mueller (aka "Northwoods Girl")
is our administrative assistant. Renee brings
a high-energy, highly organized work ethic to Trailbound Trips. She has worked
in the corporate world for over 30 years as an executive assistant and
continues to volunteer for numerous organizations including school, church
and Scouts. Renee and her husband have a daughter in college and a son in
high school. When Renee isnt running around with family activities,
she enjoys their two dogs, crafting and card making, gardening and many
outdoor recreational activities.