Alumni Spotlight: Karen Bishop

Among a list of emotional and physical achievements, Mountain Trek helped Karen Bishop realize her love of hiking. Since joining the program, she’s hiked to the top of Mount Kilimanjaro, and many peaks from here to there. Here, Karen Bishop details how the Mountain Trek program helped transform her life, and she shares the one thing she never fails to take away from the retreat. It’s not necessarily what you’d expect.  

Who is Karen?

I am a person in a state of evolution.  After retirement from a wonderful 36 year career with only one company, I took plenty of time to travel and connect with friends and family.  An early retirement was always the plan with the intent to become actively involved in the not-for-profit world and I am just beginning to map out this journey.  I am both daunted and motivated by the unknown.

What was your thought process when signing up for the health retreat? Why Mountain Trek?

The first time was simple–I did not feel good about my physical condition and I wanted to do something to make me feel better physically. The hiking piece sounded just right. I was not sure about the education piece but ended up learning so much, not just from the lectures but from the interaction with other guests from all over the world. Whether I am more or less fit, I go back to Mountain Trek from time to time because I enjoy being part of the environment there. I never leave without a goal, and the key lesson I have learned is how feeling better mentally is more important for me.  I also never leave without a new good friend.

Which of Mountain Trek’s pillars of holistic health (sleep, detox, nutrition, fitness, stress management) did you gain the most from?

The sleep piece was the first pillar I addressed as I was a chronic five-hour sleeper.  I thought this was a foundational piece for me, followed by nutrition and detox. I admit I can be all in on a nutrition lifestyle which sometimes leads to falling back to prior habits.  This is the area I struggle the most with because I am busy or have not prepped or have not shopped…I think we all know the reasons life and behaviours can get in the way but this is definitely the challenge to overcome.  I am still learning how this is the piece for me that is the key to physical AND mental well-being. 

What’s your favorite memory of Mountain Trek?

The first time I was able to reach the lake on the Kokanee Glacier Park trek was very emotional for me because, on previous trips, I knew other groups would reach it, and I never quite made it. Even more emotionally, on a later visit, I trekked passed the lake only to see a beautiful owl flying close overhead. A sign? Yes, I think so.

Has Mountain Trek changed the trajectory of your life?

Yes! Hiking is a passion now. Mountain Trek helped me have the confidence to explore hiking around the world. It is also my simplest way to meditate. The longer journey which I understand but struggle to execute is self-compassion. 

Karen at the top of Mount Kilimanjaro!

If you had one extra hour each day, what would you spend that hour doing?

I would have to give the hour to someone else. To this day, I admire my colleagues and staff who dedicated so much to their work even though they had families and long commutes. While I travelled a lot for work, I at least did not have to factor in taking care of a family or commuting. To me, they were truly amazing people.

Who inspires you and why?

It is very difficult to call out one as many people inspire me, some of whom I know personally, some I do not. Two mentors, Ed Garber and Glen Steeves, inspired me because of their people-focused leadership, which carried over into their personal lives. 

Do you have a favorite quote?

“Hope is not a strategy.”  Harsh as it may sound, I believe having hope is vital to well-being, but I also believe a plan, however simple, is needed.

If you could invite one person, living or deceased, over for a dinner party, who would that be and why?

Oh gosh, it’s impossible to select just one person! 

Karen at Everest Base Camp — 17,598 ft / 5,364 m!

Where is your favorite hike in the world? What makes it so special?

I love them all, but the Kumbu Valley trek to Everest Base Camp is the one I would call out.  Beautiful scenery, wonderful, kind local people and a great group of fellow hikers. 

I am fascinated by the early Mountaineers and the Sherpas who climbed Everest with the most rudimentary gear.  Their mental mindset is simply amazing.

Thanks, Karen! We really appreciate you taking the time to sit down with us and share your story. You are a true inspiration!

What is Mountain Trek?

Mountain Trek is the health reset you’ve been looking for. Join Karen and the rest of the Mountain Trek Alumni at our award-winning retreat, immersed in the lush nature of British Columbia, where you will unplug, recharge, and roll back years of stress and unhealthy habits. To learn more about the retreat, and how we can help you reset your health, please email us at or reach out below: