© DWAYNE LEONARD / HUNEWILL RANCH
IMAGES COURTESY OF TRAILBOUND TRIPS
Hiking the Grinnell
Glacier Trail above
Grinnell Lake in
Glacier National Park.
Guests of the Hunewill Ranch
enjoy a ride in the meadows.
CAROL RUHTER, A Costco member from
Barrington, Illinois, was a professional
nature guide before she even knew it. As a
little girl, she led her imaginary friends on
“nature tours” of her family’s farm. In ;;;;,
she started leading local day hikes for
women out of her local YMCA, stemming
from her personal desire to meet other out-doors-inclined women. When the hikes
became a hit, she decided to strike out on
her own and founded Trailbound Trips
Today her business offers day hikes,
three- to four-day getaways and weeklong
outdoor adventure trips across the nation.
Travelers not only hike, but also participate
in a variety of outdoor activities specific to
a particular region, such as dog sledding,
zip lining and kayaking, among many others. And Ruhter has stayed true to her original audience: All adventures are still for
women only. She’s led a few thousand of
them in her ;;-year career so far.
“I wanted to connect women with nature
because it’s so phenomenally good for our
mind and our body,” Ruhter tells The
Connection. “I wanted to connect them with
each other. I wanted to connect them with
their own personal strength, and, lastly, I
wanted to connect them with God.”
Faith is not a requirement, however.
Hikers can choose whether or not they’d like
to join a spiritually focused day hike in
northern Illinois, and getaways and week-
long trips include open discussions that
welcome diverse beliefs.
Participants have ranged in age from ;;
to ;;. There’s no age cap—the only requirement is an able body.
For eight years, Ruhter has also operated
the Wild Woman’s Triathlon in Barrington,
a unique combination of kayaking, hiking
and walking or running.
Whether she’s leading a group on a trail
in northern Illinois, roasting marshmallows under a starry canopy on Lake
Superior, kayaking in the San Juan Islands
or trekking through the Appalachian
Mountains, there’s no limit to where Ruhter
will explore. Throughout the year she scouts
new places for her travelers, many of whom
are repeat customers. She says, “When
women are with other women there is a
spirit of encouragement and strength that
is phenomenal.”—Hana Medina
and riding experience, guests are assigned
to horses and then evaluated to make sure
they are a good match.
“It’s interesting: Horses and people
all have their own personalities, and sometimes they don’t fit together,” Elliott says.
The guests, who visit as singles, couples and families, enjoy additional activities such as colt gentling, barbecues,
roping practice, bingo, square dancing, a
campfire with a sing-along and s’mores,
talent night, and a hay ride to complete
“You don’t have to cook, you don’t have
to clean, you get to be active and enjoy the
outdoors, but you don’t have to get dirty if
you don’t want to, so I think it’s kind of an
ideal vacation,” Elliott says.
—Christina Guerrero CONTINUED ON PAGE 38
OUR DIGITAL EDITIONS
Click here for a short video from
Trailbound Trips. (See page 9 for details.)