Meet Our Guides

GW TRAiLS Guides!

The following GW students are the real heart-and-soul of TRAiLS.  These volunteers devise and plan all the outings, do the leg work, organize the logistics, and do everything else to ensure a safe, educational, and fun-filled adventure. In addition to offering extensive experience in the outdoors, all TRAiLS Guides are certified in Wilderness First Aid (WFA), Cardio-Pulmonary Resuscitation (CPR), and Leave No Trace (LNT) wilderness ethics.  

“Teddy” The TRAiLS Bear

The TRAiLS Bear, (born Theodore McBearson V) was born in a humble cave in the northern woods of Canada.  While his date of birth is unknown it is widely speculated that he is close to 148 years-old. His childhood was filled with pleasant memories of eating blueberries and mauling campers.  In 2002, Theodore decided to further his education at The George Washington University. Being that he is a huge and awesome bear, Theo felt out of place in the city and decided to create an organization that would cater to students like himself who craved the outdoors. This longing desire, and the need for devouring wild salmon, began the series of events that eventually led to the creation of TRAiLS. Today, Theo resides in the TRAiLS Office in Mitchell and generally goes by the nickname of "TRAiLS Bear". He has experienced considerable fame, including being featured in Maxim magazine, and is often seen at TRAiLS events. Other hobbies include attending classical music concerts, playing water polo and reading 19th century Russian literature.  Please stop by and feed him treats.

Jared Bulla
(Senior - Economics & International Affairs)

Hello there! My name is Jared and I am a Senior hailing from the great city of Cincinnati, Ohio (O-H…) majoring in Economics. In addition to being outdoors, I greatly enjoy philosophizing with folks and enjoying the Deli. Finally, as the great sage Ron Swanson says "I also think its pointless for a human to paint scenes of nature when they can go outside and stand in it.

Mahalia Smith (Senior- International Relations & German)

ello ello

my name is Mahalia and I'm a senior from Louisville, KY currently studying IA, Intl Development and German. I love all things outdoors especially traipsing around with my lovely fellow TRAiLS guides. Some hikes on my life bucket list include: Grand Canyon (to be accomplished spring 2020 fingers crossed!), The W & El Chaltén in Patagonia, PCT, Everest base camp & Laugavegur in Iceland. In the rest of my free time, I enjoy painting, running, and hanging with pals
Hope to see you on the trail!! ~

Emily Reilly (Senior - Computer Science & Fine Arts)

Hull0! I'm a senior from NJ and majoring in Computer Science and Fine Arts. My happy places are painting in the studio or on the side of a mountain with my friends! I love new people and new places, so hope to see y'all outside~~

Eve Wellish (Senior-- Real Estate and Geography)


I was born and raised in the sin city of Las Vegas, Nevada. I love learning about cities and how they develop over time. And when there has been too much city in my life, I love heading out of the city, and onto the trail. My ideal travel mode is by train or bike, however, I also like meeting different Lyft drivers. In my free time, I like bumpin' to Radiohead and Shakira (I know, it's quite the contrast). I hope to hang with you on a trip soon!

Vince Roselli (Senior - Political Communication)

cowboy vince

I'm a senior studying Political Communication here at GW. When I'm not outside on an adventure, I'm probably playing music or running the streets of the city! D.C. is great but Virginia will always be my home. Come play outside!

Matthew Brady (Senior - International Affairs, Minor in GIS)


Hahah, hey, it's ya boy, Matt Brady. I'm a Senior in the Elliott School reigning from the middle of nowhere Connecticut. I'm an INFP, and a Taurus, and if I were an animal I would be a black bear because they don't look like it, but they are terrified of people.

Ryan Kleissler (Senior - International Affairs, Minor in GIS)


Hey everyone, my name is Ryan. I am a senior in the Elliott school studying Africa, Security, and GIS. I'm from Chapel Hill, North Carolina and love everything outdoors. When I'm not hiking on the trails I like to read John Le Carre novel or watching movies.

Ethan Thomas (Junior - Political Science & Geography)


Hello friends! I’m Ethan Thomas, a junior studying Political Science and Geography originally from Atlanta. I love the outdoors and have been camping, backpacking, rafting and adventuring since I can remember. When I’m on campus, you can find me reading a good book or hanging out with friends. Can’t wait to see y’all on the trail! 

Biz Rhodes (Junior - Public Health)


Hey there! My name is Biz, I'm a junior studying Public Health in the Milken School. I grew up in Westport, Connecticut and in my family I'm the middle child. I love traveling, art, and obviously, the outdoors! When I'm outside I like to hike, go backpacking, read in the grass, and run. My dream is to copy a backpacking trip my dad did and motorcycle around Alaska. My favorite part of being a guide is trying to engage every participant and motivating people to push through the tough sections of trails!

Jack Mueller (Junior - International Affairs, Minor in Sustainability & Spanish)


Hey! I’m a junior in Elliot studying IA with a concentration in contemporary cultures. I’m really really into food, especially if it's cooked over the fire outdoors! If I'm not cooking because I'm out of Gworld, I try to spend as much time as posible on long strolls wherever I happen to be. I’m from Boston so I miss the four distinct seasons here in DC, even though it's nice not contemplating life while walking back home from school in - 10 degree weather. Hope to see you soon!

Liz Sun (Junior - Biology & Public Health)


Your local Jersey girl who loves watching dumb cartoon shows, listening to funky jams, reading, and cooking/baking. When I'm not enjoying the great indoors, I'm often biking or chilling out in the beautiful greenery of Kogan plaza. All forms of water are my best friend; I feel most at home either by the ocean or in the middle of a snow storm. Though tea is especially my favorite form, I keep over 10 different types in my arsenal at all times!

Natasha Raynovich (Junior - International Affairs, Minor in Public Health & Computer Science)


I'm an ENFP from the wonderful town of Bozeman, Montana. I love hiking, climbing, and kayaking but nothing beats my love of skiing. You'll find me recklessly biking around campus, spending excessive amounts of time in various coffee shops and getting overly excited about the next time I get to venture into the outdoors. Come on our trips to explore the unexpected beauty of the east coast!

Zoe Kusnick (Junior - International Affairs & Environmental Studies, Minor in Sustainability)


I am a Pisces from the San Francisco Bay Area who lives nothing more on this planet than her doggy & feeling small around some big ol' mountains! If I had the choice, you would catch me backpacking, climbing, playing music, or taking photos at all times. Possibly all at once, but definitely in the company of some good friends, old or new :) I have a particular love for finding humor in all of life & can't WAIT to giggle & explore with all of you. See you on the TRAiLS ~

Abe Merker (Junior - History, Minor in Creative Writing)


Hey y'all! I'm from Fredericksburg, Virginia, but have lived all over the U.S. I'm passionate about music (check out GW Sirens!), writing, movies, and finding the best egg and cheese bagel everywhere I go. I'm obsessed with dogs, the great state of Virginia, bad reality T.V, and anything chocolate. My life goal is to teach and write about history, especially about people who have been left out of your mainstream textbooks.

Sarah Kallgren (Junior - International Affairs & Geography, Minor in Sustainability)


I love to hang out with friends on and off the trail, make and listen to music in equal measures and enjoy all the whacky food that D.C. has to offer (Tibetan Dumplings are real and they are outstanding). In the summers you can find me in the White Mountain of New Hampshire or at my home in northern Wisconsin!

Luna Garcia (Junior - Political Science & Criminal Justice, concentration in Latin American Studies)


Helloo everyone! I am a junior majoring in Political Science and Criminal Justice with a concentration in Latin American Studies. I LOVE being outside and exploring new places (I mean obviously, I am a TRAiLS guide). Reading books (poetry books especially) and going for runs are my favorite activities. I am still looking for someone that loves the 90's hit "Never Gonna Give You Up" as much as I do (yes, I run to that song). Helping others is one of my biggest passions, knowing that I've made a positive change (no matter how small) in someone's life makes me extremely happy. Anyways, I hope to meet you all and have lots of fun!!!

Joshua Erhard (Junior - Envrionmental Studies)
Hey! My name is Josh and I am a junior guide here at the university. I hail from a small town north of Boston called Hamilton. There’s a lot of horses there. I’ve grown up my entire life skiing, hiking, and downhill longboarding all over the northeast and love all the opportunities that our surrounding area has to offer. Hopefully I’ll get to see you out on a trip!

Alexa Greig (Junior - Interior Architecture, Minor in Business Administration)


I'm a Junior majoring in Interior Architecture with a minor in Business Administration. I am from the beautiful country of South Africa. Since moving to the States two years ago I have lived in Vermont, Connecticut, Colorado and DC. My goal is to live in many more places throughout my life, with the next stop hopefully being in Europe. I love the outdoors, especially if snow or water is involved, and going on adventures. Come join us outside!

Isabel Sherman (Second Year - Sociology)
Isabel Sherman

I'm a sophomore from the best of the Midwest (St. Louis) majoring in Sociology, and I grew up canoeing on the wild, wild rivers of Missouri. I love hiking, biking, reality tv, and long, long road trips. My dream outdoor adventure is either to go bikepacking across the US, or to see a moose in person. Hope to see you guys (and a moose?) on the trails!

Margaret Evered (Second Year- Political Science & Russian Language and Literature)

Hey! I'm a sophomore hailing from the lovely New Jersey, studying political science and Russian! I joined TRAiLS to challenge myself to try new things and get outside and I haven't looked back since. Big fan of dog sightings, walks in the woods, and getting to know the super cool participants who come on our trips!

Karen Hunter (Second Year - International Affairs)

Karen Hunter in the Woods
Hey! I’m Karen, a sophomore studying International Affairs and Anthropology. I grew up loving the outdoors, but I only started backpacking and going on serious adventures in college with the help of TRAiLS! I am absolutely committed to bringing the GW community into outdoor spaces, and I am equally committed to rubber straws and Bear Naked granola.

Gabby Napolitano (Second Year- Speech Pathology & Hearing Science)


Hey guys I’m a sophomore from Connecticut majoring in speech pathology. I love being ~outdoorsy~ whether that be hiking, kayaking, or doing yoga outside. You can usually find me blasting my 90’s rap way to loudly in my headphones or eating a solid diet of kind bars. I’m really passionate about early childhood intervention and spend my summers at a therapeutic preschool for toddlers with special needs(aka the best job ever). I can’t wait for a year full of guiding trips and being outdoors!!!

Clare Maves (Second Year - Undecided)


I'm a Sophomore from Columbus, Ohio. I am thinking about studying anthropology/archaeology, peace studies, or sustainability (I am very undecided). I love hiking (obviously), biking, flying kites, going to concerts, looking at plants, and petting cats. Coming from a flat state, I am thrilled to have mountains close by––don’t take it for granted and come play outside with TRAiLS!

Sarah Urtz (Second Year- International Affairs, Minor in Computer Science)


Hello GW! I am a sophomore studying international affairs with a minor in computer science (as of now). I hail from the great state of Colorado, where I enjoy frequent strolls across mountainous terrain and riding my horse, Roxie. Some of my other hobbies include photography, making short films, and finding new breakfast spots. I feel most at home in the mountains, but am happy as long as I am outside. Hope to see you on the trail!

Constantine Decoulos (Second Year- International Affairs)


I'm from Boston and love spending time outside with friends. Some of my favorite ways to do that are backpacking, climbing or snowboarding. When I'm in the city I'm on the hunt for the best vibes and even better music.

Henry Spilker (Second Year - Mechanical Engineering)


I am a sophomore from Bellingham, Washington majoring in mechanical engineering. I love to ski, hike, bike, kayak, and cliff jump. I can't wait to guide as many trips as possible this year!

Hannah Stewart (First Year- Exercise Science)
Girl standing on ledge of cliff

hey hi hello, I'm Hannah! I am an enneagram type 2 (let me love you!!) hailing from the Lone Star state. Yes I say y'all, no I didn't ride a horse to school. You can find me on the hunt for the best latte around, even though I probably already have one in hand, and I love love love being outside. My favorite way to enjoy the outdoors is to soak up the sunshine from a blanket in the grass or on the trail backpacking. Hope to see you out there! :-)

Bekah Platzke (First Year- International Affairs and Religion)
Girl in front of rocks
Hey! I’m Bekah! I’m a first year studying international affairs and religion. Maryland is home and where I like to ride horses, search for the best swimming holes, hike, and attempt to snowboard on east coast ice sheets. I consider myself a hammocking tree connoisseur. See you on the trail!!!!

Elizabeth Benjamin (First Year- International Affairs)
Girl in Outdoors

Hi people I'm Lizzie Benjamin!! I'm a freshman in Elliott studying International Affairs for now (~we never know what changes tomorrow will bring~). I'm from the super rare and unique state of New Jersey where I spend my time biking, painting, or staring at trees for hours (not kidding). I looovee hiking and breathing in that fresh O2 but I especially love sharing experiences with others outdoors and taking in some gr8 views. Lil cheesy but it's gouda, can't wait to see you all out there! :-)

Shriya Shinde (Second Year-
 International affairs, minor:journalism/mass communication and italian)
Girl on mountain
Hey guys :)! I’m Shriya and I’m currently a sophomore studying international affairs with a concentration in security policy. I’m from just outside of Boston and other than hiking I enjoy playing tennis, biking, swimming, and being with my family and friends. I can’t wait to see all your beautiful faces on our trips! 

Jacqueline LaBruzzo (First Year- History) 
Girl with strawberry

Hullooo! I'm a freshman studying History and doing Navy ROTC. I've lived all over, but Portugal's my home! You can find me drooling over mountains and rivers and fields any day, and I absolutely adore all types of outdoor things and all animals and plants, too! If I'm not outside, I'm probably reading a good book, watching batman or war movies, or playing some nintendo classics :) can't wait to see you out on the trail!

Lauren Babinetz (First Year- Environmental Studies)
Grand Canyon

Hey! i’m an Aries from PA majoring in Environmental Studies with a dual minor in Biology and GIS. Some of my favorite things are cooking, hiking and making art. If I’m not chilling around campus double fisting a smoothie and an iced coffee, you can find me kayaking on the river and hanging with some friends playing music. Can’t wait to see you outside!

Rachel Brown (First Year- International Affairs and Finance)
Rachel Brown

Hey, I’m Rachel and I’m from right outside of Philly. I’m majoring in international affairs and finance with a minor in spanish. I love to travel, hike, bike, geocache and run. When I’m procrastinating you can find me  planning backpacking and traveling itineraries all over the world (that I may or may not ever actually go on) and listening to George Harrison. The dream is to backpack through India one day. Catch you on the trails!

Emily Levin (First Year- Public Health) 
Emily Levine

Hey all, my name is Emily! I’m from Seattle, WA (the better Washington, but I am biased) and a public health major here at GW. I’m happiest when I’m breathing fresh air and on the move, hence my love for the outdoors. You can also find me exploring the city, on a run, or hanging out with friends! I am excited to continue to hike, ski, camp, boat, swim and laugh in the DC area with all of you! 

Lucas Laingen (First Year- International Affairs and Arabic) 
In the snow

Howdy folks! I'm a midwest boy from the Twin Cities (Yes, that's Minnesota) and I'm a first year studying International Affairs and Arabic. Some of my favorite outdoor activities include hiking with my dog, sailing with my dog, walking my dog, cross country skiing with my dog, kayaking with my dog, and paddle boarding....with my dog. I hope to see y'all on the trail! 

Yonatan Altman-Shafer (First Year- International Affairs and Geography)
Boy on hill

My name is Yoni and I'm a first-year from Milwaukee, Wisconsin, a place that most GW students would have trouble putting on a map. I'm very excited to be in TRAiLS and explore the DMV area with you guys. My dream hiking trip would be to Bhutan!

Liz Szafranski (First Year- Biology and Geography) 
Hammock and Girl
Hey y'all! I'm a first year from Houston, Texas double majoring in biology and geography. I'm an enneagram 5 and an aspiring plant lady. I love everything outdoors, especially hiking, backpacking, camping, hammocking, swimming, and canoeing. Fun fact: I have fallen off cliffs twice in my life, but I promse not to fall off any on TRAiLS trips. I can't wait to see you on the trail! 

Elena Mantilla (First Year- International Affairs) 

Girl on cliff
Hey everybodyyy! My name is Elena and I’m proudly from Rochester, NY but I love love love living in DC! I have always been into running, hiking, and adventuring in new places with new people. I drink way too much Peet’s, eat an unnecessary amount of flaming hot cheetos, and give out more hugs than is probably asked for. I’m so grateful to have such a devoted group of guides to work with and I can’t wait to see what adventures this year brings! catch ya on the trails :-)

Lily LaMattina (Second Year- International Affairs)
Girl doing yoga
Hellooo my name is Lily and I’m a sophomore studying International Affairs. I’m from Buffalo, NY (one of the most underrated cities - just come see for yourself!), but I love traveling and exploring new places. You can spot me on campus walking freakishly fast with a large cup of coffee in my hands at all times. Some of my favorite outdoor activities include wakeboarding, swimming, skiing, and yoga. I can’t wait to see you on the trail! 

Trey Walker (First Year- International Affairs & Asian Studies)

On hill
Hey y’all! My name is Trey and I am a first-year studying Asian studies at the Elliott school. Coming from the great state of Georgia, the back country, sweet tea and banjos run through my veins. I love backpacking and any kind of white water. I am excited explore the  the woods around DC with y’all!