Alumni Spotlight: Simone McKinney

Woman at top of mountain stopping to enjoy the views and rest

Laying on her sofa reading a travel magazine article and recovering after wisdom teeth surgery, Simone McKinney discovered Mountain Trek. It turns out that Canada, beautiful lakes, and hiking are three of her favorite things in life so just one month later, Simone arrived in beautiful British Columbia for the last week of our 2017 season. We owe a big “thank you” to Simone’s oral surgeon, as she has quickly become a beloved alum, frequently attending our Health Talk Happy Hours and joining our second ever Basecamp RetreatWe caught up with Simone to learn why she chose to come to Mountain Trek, how the program impacted her, and why, if she could have one person, living or deceased, over for dinner, it would be Pakistani activist and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Malala Yousafzai.

Who is Simone?

Simone is a global nomad who loves being active in nature, especially when she’s traveling which is often, except now during the pandemic not so much… Current travel (business) aside, she’s finding many silver linings.

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

Actually, I stumbled upon Mountain Trek when I was reading a travel magazine article about it on my couch while recovering from wisdom teeth surgery. I thought how cool is this – it’s in Canada, on a lake, and required hiking (for 6-7 hours daily for a week) – 3 of my favorite things in life. 🙂 Plus, a tough-love boot camp – what could be better?

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

Honestly, all of them with detox being the most – I learned new ways to detox (steam room, more massages, and lots more water) and actually implement them into my life.

What’s your favorite memory of Mountain Trek?

So many! Tough to choose just one so will give my top 3: staff, food, natural surroundings, not least of which Kootenay Lake – will forever remember morning yoga watching the sunrise on the lake – magical.

Has Mountain Trek changed the trajectory of your life?

Absolutely! Transformational. I practiced many of the activities that I had learned and experienced at MT when I returned home. I was never into yoga prior to MT, but MT inspired me, so my takeaway was to gradually increase the times I practiced yoga at home, going from once a week to twice, and now I enjoy morning and evening restorative yoga almost daily. Bedtime yoga helps me sleep better, as, in Kirk’s wise words, I use the hour to shut off all ‘blue’ light. I had such amazing experiences in Ainsworth that I eagerly signed up when the program was being offered in a condensed version at home virtually during the pandemic quarantining. I knew it couldn’t possibly replicate being immersed in the natural beauty of BC, but I was amazed and impressed by how so much came back to me. Last, but not least, my biggest aha moment was the cooking that we had to do given the virtual program aspect. I went from zero cooking to a mini Julia Child in the making (sort of) thanks to the virtual MT weekend, using MT recipes for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. My friends are still in shock, as am I. 🙂 I can’t wait to be back on Kootenay Lake at the MT home and learn more to fold into my MT practices. Meanwhile, I enjoy the alumni Zoom talks and receiving the wonderful newsletters that Alex arranges so well and Kirk’s enlightening guidance on a variety of self-care topics as well as hearing the guest staff speakers and chatting with alumni. Suffice to say, I’m drinking the healthy MT Kool-aid. ;).

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

Meditation and journaling.

Who inspires you and why?

Mountain Trek – see above. 🙂

Do you have a favorite quote?

“Learn from yesterday. Live for today. Hope for tomorrow.” -Albert Einstein

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

Pakistani activist and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Malala Yousafzai. I have so much respect and admiration for Malala – just a young girl simply going to school, who was killed by the Taliban for wanting an education, only because she was female. I’m in awe of how she survived with a bullet through her head, living to tell the horrific tale, going on to study at Oxford and earning the Nobel Peace Prize, now helping girls all over the world become educated. Karma… I’d like to ask Malala what it felt like to endure such a horrible experience and how she made it through so bravely. I’d want to learn what if anything has changed as a result of her actions in countries like Pakistan and others where females are deemed inferior. Lastly, I’d want to thank her as a woman for all that she’s doing to try to put a stop to such needless suffering and help foster a better global understanding.

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

Macchu Pichu, Sacred Valley, Inca Trail—fascinating history and breathtaking scenery.

Simone, hiking through Peru

Thanks, Simone! 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 Simone 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: