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.
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. 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.
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 Denver, CO with his wife Gail and small dog, Bailey.
Ed Maurer - Hiking and skiing came naturally for a boy growing up and going to school in Switzerland. Ed’s career choice was travel, and he worked in the field of tour operations and management in his native Switzerland, Germany and the United States. His wife, Helen, and their kids all learned skiing in the Alps, and 2 grandsons have joined the Maurer outings in the Bernese Oberland. Before retiring, Ed worked for 12 years as a reference librarian at a public library in southern California. Ed has been leading local hikes for a national conservation-focused organization for many years, and in 2010 began organizing and leading international hikes with Helen. Destinations have been France, Germany, Spain, and Switzerland where the emphasis has been on following long distance routes such as the Way of St. James (France and Spain), the Rheinsteig (Germany) and crossing Switzerland from north to south. Community Choice Energy to reduce the GHG footprint of Orange Countians is one of Ed’s environmental concerns where he encourages various organizations to bring this about, which isn’t easy in a still largely conservative area.
Helen Maurer - Born and raised in southern California, Helen developed an early taste for adventure through reading about far-away places (Kon Tiki was a 4th grade favorite) and exploring all of nearby Griffith Park on horseback. Her first trip outside the U.S. was to the Soviet Union on a language study program. A few years later, when work on a contract project ended, she had saved up enough money to spend 6 months traveling around Western Europe with a backpack and a guitar. (Later travels took her to Peri, Chile, Brazil, Easter Island, Tahiti, Moorea and Rangiroa.) Back in the U.S. again, Helen worked in student travel, which is how she met Ed. When he asked her if she’d like to drive a car to Panama with him, Helen naturally replied, “When do we leave?” Although they never did make it to Panama (because of a war en route), they did end up getting married in Mexico. In the years since, they have raised two children and now have five grandchildren. In the U.S., Helen and Ed have hiked and backpacked the Catskills, the Adirondacks, part of the Appalachian Trail, and extensively in the Sierra Nevada, including the John Muir Trail. Their European hiking has taken them all over Switzerland, across France and Spain, along the Rhine in Germany, and into Crete. Helen has also led local dayhikes for many years with a national conservation-focused organization. Alongside these activities, Helen became a medieval historian, with a special interest in gender and politics. She is a leading scholar of the Wars of the Roses (15th c. England) and has published two books on Margaret of Anjou, a key figure in that struggle. But she also has a soft spot for castles, and participants in the trips that she and Ed lead are apt to get an enthusiastic earful about fortifications and privies if they encounter one along the way.
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.
George Rogers - Having grown up on a dairy farm in the county of Devon, England within Dartmoor National Park, George enjoyed the countryside and all it has to offer, exploring either walking, running or riding horses. In 2000, career progression took George to the West Midlands and city living. Situated in approximately the middle of the United Kingdom, the West Midlands offers easy access within a few hours by road to most parts of the UK, allowing George a huge amount of variety for outdoors activity on his days off and weekends. He has a passion for cross country running events ostensibly to be rewarded with a good quality T-shirt but the opportunity to roll around in the mud and have a beer afterwards with his friends, perhaps is closer to the truth? For work, George is a Personal Assistant to a Director within the Education and Skills sector of the UK Government.
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.