Mountain Trek: A Retreat for the Body and Soul
I have always believed in the inspirational power of travel. From the colorful streets of coastal Jacmel in Haiti, to the quiet isolation of a residential canal in Venice, to the mirrored reflections of Central Park in New York City – my inner muse finds nourishment in lands near and far. But it was not until I experienced one week at Mountain Trek – a luxury fitness retreat and health spa – in British Columbia, that I truly knew what it to find true inspiration.
Maybe it was the daily sunrise yoga. Maybe it was delicious meal after meal of action packed foods. Maybe it was the rush of the snow melt turning small creeks into raging rivers along the hiking trail. Whatever it was – I discovered fuel for my inner and outer self.
I should take a step back. I have wanted to travel to a destination wellness retreat for over twenty years. Something about spending one week focused on my health, fitness and nutrition – without any distractions – appealed to me. Fast forward to all these years later, approaching my 40th birthday – I had yet to realize this bucket list dream. So when the opportunity presented itself, to spend one week in the dazzling mountains of British Columbia, overlooking Kootenay Lake at Mountain Trek – my dreams came true.
What I discovered at the lodge – and in myself – exceeded anything I could have imagined, fueling the inner and outer me from the inside out.
You see, I found my fuel in my breathing – amidst the backdrop of fern-moss lined trails and trees rubbing in the forest like violins in an orchestra.
Taking deep belly breaths during sunrise yoga. Breaths that allowed me to delve deeper into my muscles, my practice and my mind.
Breathing between bites, mindfully chewing to appreciate the natural tastes and textures of foods at each meal. Bites that nourished my activity, my brain and my heart.
Learning to control my breathing as Pileated Woodpeckers laughed at us as we climbed, step after step over the undulating terrain of Pilot Bay or the jagged canyon of Fry Creek. Steps that felt impossible at first became empowering over the course of seven days.
The snow melt through Fry Creek was so loud and powerful that our hiking guide had to use hand signals along the trail to communicate.
While the food, landscape and activity pushed and pulled me each day to new heights; the subtle changes inside me came from human interactions.
Fueling up for Breakfast: Scrambled eggs with steamed spinach and Swiss Chard.
Halibut and Salmon Cakes
Inspiration oozed out of hiking guides and staff members on the trail, during daily lectures and in the gym. From the competitive swimmer turned nutritionist to the forest fire-fighter turned kinesiologist each individual member of the Mountain Trek team cared for us. Not because it was their job – but because they too, are fueled when guests feel stronger day by day. Kirkland Shave – Mountain Trek’s program director explained that his wish for guests to is that they “fall in love with their bodies. Not because they should – but because they are mindful.”
Falling in love with myself after feeling confident on an 8.3 mile hike around Pilot Bay
Alongside my fellow “campers” I found camaraderie and encouragement – things that in any other setting, I might have shied away from. But it is hard to isolate yourself from a crew of 14 other guests over the communal dining table, or in the hot tub each evening or on the 35 minute ferry ride from Balfour to Kootenay Bay towards the trail head. Amidst a group that ranged from a retired (80+ year old) female chemist from Russia, to an entrepreneur on sabbatical in search of improved health, to a hopeful 30-year old bride-to-be – I allowed myself to connect.
Instead of ducking away to the quiet of my room, I found myself chatting, listening and encouraging others as we sat around the living room – each with our tub of epsom salts to soak tired feet. Instead of feeling insecure because of my breathing during the climbs on the trail, I soaked up the encouragement of my group members who cheered me on – concentrating on the in and out of my lungs to propel me.
So yes, a week at Mountain Trek fulfilled my bucket list dream of visiting a wellness retreat. But more than that – I learned to breathe deeply and often. I found fuel that I did not know existed as energy and strength seeped into my veins like the snow melting from the glaciers gushed down the mountainsides.
About Mountain Trek:
Mountain Trek offers both a one week “reboot” and a two-week “renewal” program in British Columbia from early May to late October each year. The program also runs twice a year in November and February from Rancho La Puerta in Tecate, Mexico.
Read more about Mountain Trek at www.mountaintrek.com
Disclosure: I was a guest of Mountain Trek during my stay. All opinions are my own.