Meet some of our team ...
Philippe Apchin - Born in Paris and brought up in the Loire valley, Philippe studied business and worked in industrial real-estate in the north of France for 10 years. Fortunately, his enthusiasm for outdoor pursuits and the natural world became too strong to resist in the 90s. He became a scuba-diving instructor in Asia, the USA and the Bahamas. Settling back in France in 2002, he chose Provence as his new home, and while still diving around the world, started exploring Provence: mountain biking, trail-running, birdwatching and hill walking. A generalist leader with a passion to share nearly 20 years of experience living in Provence, Philippe has a wide range of interests in wildlife, geology, geography and history developed through 30 years of extensive travels in more than 35 countries. Philippe is a member of the British Mountaineering Council, he holds a Mountain Leader Award Level 3 and a current First Aid for the Outdoors certificate. Since 2010, Philippe has shared his time between his English home in the Cotswolds and his beloved Provence.
Gene Goldberg - Growing up in Atlanta, Georgia, Gene was the only one in his family with outdoor interests. He met these by being active with the Cub and Boy Scouts. College and the army kept him from pursuing outdoor activities until he moved to Colorado in 1975. There he joined the Colorado Mountain Club and began hiking frequently. Eventually he became a leader for them, and afterwards also for another conservation and environmentally focused organization. Between these two, he has led over 100 day hikes and 70 one- or two-week long trips – hiking, backpacking, and cultural. These have been in the Colorado Rockies, Utah, Wyoming, California, England, Switzerland, France, Spain, Belgium, Austria, Croatia, Nepal, Bhutan, New Zealand, and Australia. Oh, and also 20 trips just in Italy, most of those in the Dolomites. Gene first became acquainted with Italy in 1969 when stationed in Naples with the US Army. A retired architect, he now fills his time leading hiking and hiking/cultural trips in these wide-spread areas. He lives in Santa Fe, NM with his wife Gail and two small dogs, Whisky and Bailey.
Hal Huntsman - Hal was raised in Minnesota. He remembers early camping trips with raccoons raiding his family’s Styrofoam cooler, old nylon tents slowly leaking on cotton sleeping bags, and – a little later – long winter nights lying in cozy snow caves. His outdoor life took off when he moved to Colorado’s Front Range in 1987. He learned the sublime pleasures of alpine peaks and the rigors of rock climbing, often spending all 300 days of sunshine outside. Trips to Wyoming, Utah, Nevada, California, Idaho, Arizona, New Mexico, Canada, Mexico, and Peru broadened his experience and love for the natural world. Hal has been line cook, chef, roofer, house painter, grounds keeper, cowhand, and a few others before finding his current work as a community college math teacher, which gives him enough time off to explore the Sierra Nevadas and other nearby mountain ranges. Hal and his wife, Edissa, live in San Francisco.
David Ongley - David has lived in Alaska for over 25 years. Driving into the state from Chicago in 1991, he realized he was home at last. He settled into a three bedroom log house with a great view of the Wrangell Mountains. Living on the edge of the wilderness changed his life - for the better. He has explored Alaska whenever possible from the south to the very north end of the state. He worked for 20 years as a librarian in Utqiagvik (the town formerly known as Barrow) always coming back to the Copper River Valley to fish and recharge his life. His favorite season is spring with the returning warmth and glorious brightness of the sun as it reflects off the melting snow and ice. There are also no mosquitoes at that time of year. Together with his wife, Lisa Sobieniak, they have hiked, paddled and peddled throughout the Copper River area, delighting in its splendor and majesty.
Lyn Potier - Although she was born and raised in Guildford, a town just south east of London, Lyn now lives with her husband, Warren, on the beautiful North Cornish coast where she can indulge her passion for all things outdoors. She enjoys body boarding and archery as well as cycling and keeping fit, but her main love is walking. So far Lyn has completed half of the wonderful UK National Trails including the iconic South West Coast Path and Offa’s Dyke. She has also undertaken a charity walk in the Sahara Desert and for five consecutive years was part of a team competing in the Snowdonia Challenge Plus, a tough orienteering walking race in Wales. When she wants to relax, Lyn can be found in her garden most likely sitting in a chair reading a good book.
Lisa Sobieniak - Born into an outdoor family, Lisa spent every birthday growing up in their favorite campground in Algonquin Provincial Park, Ontario Canada. There she learned to hike swim and paddle her way into summer bliss. In spite of being chased by a couple of campground bears she grew up to love the outdoors, continuing her adventures and eventually leading others backpacking, skiing and paddling. She was the first female head river guide for Centennial Canoe Company and has guided over a hundred trips on Colorado and Utah rivers, and many a skier or backpacker into the Rockies. She lived in Alaska for five years where she met her husband, David Ongley. Together they have traveled extensively in the last frontier and keep a cabin off the beaten track for their frequent adventures. A retired teacher/librarian Lisa keeps a small flock of sheep in Colorado and keeps busy making woolen products when not out enjoying the outdoors.
Dana Willett - Born and raised in Omaha, Nebraska, Dana’s land-locked days were numbered after college, beginning with a seven-countries-in-six-weeks backpacking trip around Europe. With a degree in broadcast journalism, her professional pursuits then began in Los Angeles working in advertising and entertainment. Earning enough money from a self-published pamphlet, “How to Travel for Free as an Air Courier,” Dana flew one-way to Tokyo in hopes of finding work on a friend’s project. It worked, and she stayed two years, learning the language and traveling Japan tip to tip, climbing Mount Fuji and with forays to Hong Kong, Indonesia, and backpacking through Thailand. Her professional career has included over 25 years of corporate communications, business solutions, research, marketing and project management experience. Competitive triathlon and wanderlust have been underlying themes in the background of all Dana’s professional pursuits, always seeking unique destinations to swim-bike-run-hike. Children now grown, her career circle has widened to encompass animal welfare with a focus on equine rescue and fostering. Her small Colorado farm houses two senior mares, ten chickens, two feral rescue cats, and a new puppy (and her human husband Jim!). Pursuing an Equine Science degree through the University of Guelph, her mid-term work goal is to combine marketing and communications skills with animal welfare efforts, and continue to feed her hunger for travel, exploring global animal welfare outlets and practices wherever possible.
Peter Butler - Peter was born in Calcutta and lived there until the age of 4. Professionally trained as a biochemist, when he changed direction and moved into Technical Sales and Marketing, Peter truly blossomed. On relocating to America, with Deirdre, Peter set up his own Marketing & Communications business with his first customer being his former company in the UK. As Chief Operating Officer & Finance Director, Peter is lending his considerable skills and abilities to Big Round World. Besides learning new skills as his primary hobby, Peter is an accomplished musician (piano, electric & classical guitar, drums), a highly skilled wood-worker (builds from scratch acoustic and electric guitars, Shaker furniture and more) a keen gardener and planter of trees.
Deirdre Butler - Born in England and living in rural areas next to farms and the moors, Deirdre spent most of her time outdoors having “adventures” either on foot or horseback. Her mother, a keen and observant naturalist, would take the family, accompanied by numerous dogs, on long walks and so developed Deirdre’s passion for all things wild and wonder-full. Work in the medical industry, brought Deirdre and her husband, Peter, to America in 1997 - ostensibly for two years. Arriving in Colorado in 2000, Deirdre's desire to serve and her love of wildlife and nature led her to volunteer for a variety of wildlife and conservation focused organizations at both a local and national level. Deirdre has led over 50 day hikes and 40 mostly two-week long international trips including three successful summits of Mt Kilimanjaro. Besides Tanzania and England, trips have been in Scotland, Wales, British Channel Islands, Greece, Italy, Nepal, Colorado, California, Wyoming, Wisconsin, Arizona, Utah and she has traveled in much of Asia and the Far East. Deirdre specializes in trips in her old home-country and has led England’s Jewel in the Crown - Coast to Coast trip, over eight times. A certified Wilderness First Responder, Deirdre lives in Lyons, CO with Peter and their menagerie of furry and feathered friends.