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 groups

Carol Ruhter
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, she’d choose that for her life path? Carol founded Trailbound in 1996 to help women experience nature’s magnificence and life lessons … and to inspire women’s confidence, camaraderie, and playful, adventurous spirits. She has been interviewed on those topics on several national radio shows and has penned articles for multiple books. Carol’s adult son and daughter and son-in-law live in the area.

Connie Brownell
Connie Brownell (aka "Running Water") serves as a guide for Trailbound’s weeklong trips, including Montana, Washington, Minnesota, Utah, Maine, North Carolina, Oregon, and New York’s 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 creation’s beauty, from rocks and plants to the stars above. Connie and her husband have three married daughters and seven grandchildren.

Debbie Hager
Debbie Hager (aka “Lambeau Leather Lucy”) doubles as Trailbound’s business manager and a co-leader for our getaways and weeklong trips. She’s been with Trailbound since 2006, and has co-led most of our trips at some point over those years; two of her favorites are Minnesota’s Superior Hiking Trail and Maine’s Acadia National Park. She’s 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 teaches fitness classes to the elderly. She and her husband have one adult son and daughter-in-law.

Marty Ramey
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
Joyce Baila (aka "Hellbender") serves as a guide for Trailbound’s week-long trips, including Vermont, North Carolina’s Blue Ridge Mountains and Acadia. A former physical education teacher, Joyce loves the outdoors and has never met a hike that she didn’t 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 boy’s 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 40 years. They raised three boys who are working on families of their own. (Note: Hellbenders are rare salamanders in N. Carolina streams.)

Jody Winfield
Jody Winfield (aka “Rebel”) guides for Trailbound’s weeklong trips, including Sedona, North Carolina, Florida, Oregon, Acadia, Yellowstone, Washington, 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, biking, and promoting a not-for-profit student scholarship program.

Jeannette Wolff
Jeannette Wolff (aka "Randonee") has been hiking with Trailbound since 2001 and guides Trailbound adventures in the Apostle Islands and Washington state. She also scouts new locations for weeklong trips each year. During the school year, Jeannette is a speech pathologist at an elementary school. In addition to hiking, Jeannette loves to travel and is an avid reader. She lives in Lake Bluff, IL with her husband and has 3 adult children.

Kim Fisichella
Kim Fisichella(aka "KP") serves as a guide for Trailbound’s week-long trips. Her first trip will be in 2020 at Bryce and Zion National Parks in Utah. She loves exploring the outdoors and all its beauty. Her friends joke that every new trail she hikes becomes her "favorite." The outdoors is her place of peace, reflection and inspiration. Her greatest joy comes from sharing nature’s beauty with others. When Kim is not working at REI, she is out hiking or biking in the mountains around Asheville, NC. Her passions include hiking, biking, traveling and holistic health care. She has a husband, four adult children, and one grandson.

Lollie Plantenberg
Lollie Plantenberg (aka “2%”) took her first Trailbound Trip in 2007 to Acadia, Maine and has been adventuring with us ever since. She led Trailbound’s weeklong trip to Minnesota in 2014 with her sister and fellow trail guide, Debbie "LL Lucy" Hager. Lollie lives in northern Wisconsin. She and her husband, Randy, have a beautiful family that brings her more joy than she ever thought possible. If she’s not spending time with family or friends, she’s most likely on a trail. There are two things that Lollie repeats often: "The more shoes on my rug, the happier I am." and "Bury me in my Danners." She hopes to see you on the trail -- and while you’re there, she reminds us, "Remember to jump for joy!"

David Ruhter
David Ruhter(aka "Spike") has guided at the White Pines Getaway. David is an avid outdoor adventurer: backpacker, rock climber, hiker, biker, and kayaker. He also brings strong teaching and interpersonal skills, physical strength, and patience. By profession, David is an organic farmer and a behavioral therapist for at-risk individuals with emotional and physical disorders. He is the son of Carol "Scout" and Don Ruhter.

Janet Hillier
Janet Hillier (aka "Musher") guides for Trailbound’s 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, weeklong trips, and getaways. Jan loves outdoor activities; on any given day, you’ll find her running, biking, swimming, or kayaking. She’s 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 lives in Wauconda and has a married daughter and grandson.

Jill May
Jill May (aka "Chippermunk") leads Trailbound day hikes and getaways. Jill’s love of the outdoors began as a young child in the Girl Scouts. She’s an avid camper and hiker, and calls the woods her "happy place." A few of her favorite happy places include Southwest Colorado, Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, and the Great Smoky Mountains of East Tennessee. She also enjoys biking, kayaking, swimming and spending time with her family. As an Integrative Nutrition Health Coach, Jill works with kids who struggle with emotional and mental health issues and physical challenges. Jill lives in Palatine, IL and is blessed by her outdoor-loving husband and two sons who are in college.

Donna Lill
Donna Lill (aka "Jet") who leads our day-trip bike rides, 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, two sweet grandbabies, extended family, crafts, music, and volunteering.

Marlene Tres
Marlene Tres (aka "River Rat") has guided for Trailbound’s day trips and getaways. She grew up literally following in her father’s footsteps, as he took the family exploring and camping in America’s 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 are the proud parents of an adult son and daughter.

Stephanie Blatchley
Stephanie Blatchley
Stephanie Blatchley (aka "Spirit") serves as a guide for Saturday day trips in Northern Illinois, getaways and weeklong trips. She loves the outdoors: exploring, reflecting and receiving the "nature fix" that feeds her spirit. Stephanie is passionate about the outdoor classroom and experiencing learning that deepens understanding self and the world at large. She enjoys hiking, biking and kayaking, and loves to see the joy these activities bring to others. During the school year, Stephanie is a reading specialist and education advocate. She lives in Barrington and the proud parent of an adult daughter and son.

Julie Kanak
Julie Kanak (aka "Wander Woman") is a guide for Northern Illinois day trips, Midwest getaways, and weeklong trips. 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 by herself. Julie lives in Barrington, is the proud mother of 4 wonderful young men,and proud grandma to a little girl and has been married to her college sweetheart for 30+ years. She loves reading and travelling, hosting exchange students, singing (poorly) and dancing (wildly), and exploring with Trailbound’s "Wild Women".

Linda Karlen
Linda Karlen (aka "Zephyr") leads day hikes for Trailbound. Her love for nature and the outdoors began with her childhood days, exploring her parents" dairy farm and nearby woods in central Wisconsin. Although that farm has long been sold, the exploratory spirit seeded there has taken Linda on many camping trips, bike rides and hikes as an adult. Zephyr ("gentle wind") continues to feel the winds of nature on her face and in her heart. In 2017, Linda took her love for nature to another level when she became a certified forest therapy guide with the Association of Nature and Forest Therapy Guides and Programs. Off the trail, Linda spends much of her time teaching English to college students and with her two college-aged sons. She is delighted and inspired by the wonderful "wild" women of Trailbound Trips!

Nancy Austin
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 nature’s scaled-back winter landscapes. She hiked weekly in the Chicago area with Trailbound’s "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 adult son.

Sara Reif
Sara Reif (aka “Rocky”) handles Trailbound’s online registration and payment systems. She joined in on Trailbound’s 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
Diana Schmid (aka "Spidey") is our " virtual guide", tweaking, updating, and expanding Trailbound’s 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 many years … on day trips, Midwest getaways, and weeklong trips. She especially loved her trip to Glacier, because of the breathtaking scenery. Diana enjoys fresh air, hiking, games, dancing, and music. In her "day job," Diana customizes software as a programmer for a consulting company. She and her husband have two adult children and two granddaughters.

Jamie Ruggles
Jamie Ruggles (aka "Skigal") had three athletic brothers growing up, and she was not going to be left behind. The outdoors has been her back yard canvas since childhood. Along with her love of sports, Jamie studied dance and piano. She owned and operated a private music studio for 30 years. Eventually, Jamie joined the corporate world where she was executive assistant to two CEOs. Upon retirement, Jamie has been working with Barrington Area Council on Aging, managing her church’s recently completed renovation project, and walking her dog Fergus. She discovered Trailbound in 2012 and has never looked back. In addition to her love of the outdoors, Jamie is an avid Jazzerciser, gardener, and reader. Her daughter and family, including three adorable grandkids, live in Michigan. Her son and wife recently moved to Durango, CO where Skigal is hoping to live up to her trail name once again. She is thrilled to take on the new role of office manager for Trailbound; but you will still find her out on the trail!