Hiking is the basis of Mountain Trek’s program. Find out the best ways to hike, learn about the vacations and check out some of the hikes we guide visitors on.


Our Program Isn’t Just For Losing Weight

hiking in forestFitness vacations aren’t just for people needing to lose weight any more.  Mountain Trek hosts people from around the world, of all ages and fitness levels.

As the “Wellness Tourism” industry evolves to meet the needs of our stressed society, people are drawn to Health Retreats for a variety of reasons, with the most obvious being for those wanting to lose pounds, detox, break old habits and learn healthy new ones.

But the appeal of fitness vacations like Mountain Trek is a growing trend among athletes and health conscious people as well, that aren’t necessarily “fat”.  In fact, there are a rising percentage of guests that choose us because our Program matches where they’re already at in their health, lifestyle and attitude.

You may wonder how athletic people would benefit from attending a fitness retreat when they’re already fit and don’t need to shed pounds.  Some of the reasons these types of guests choose healthy getaways such as Mountain Trek include:

  • getting out of the office and back in touch with nature to breathe clean air
  • hiking in pristine nature through new terrain with other outdoor enthusiasts
  • training for an upcoming marathon, which their life back home didn’t allow time for
  • breaking out of their workout routine and getting re-inspired
  • detoxing from coffee, alcohol, and other habits that can creep up on us all
  • taking a much needed break from technology overload and career demands
  • enjoying regular bodywork, treatments and consultations from skilled practitioners all in one location
  • rewarding themselves after an achievement such as getting their degree
  • renewing and deepening their commitment to their health
  • enjoying an adventurous getaway with friends or a loved ones
  • indulging in down time by going solo, and feeling safe going alone in the supportive environment
  • meeting new like-minded people from around the world
  • tuning up before a wedding or other important life event    

We see it all here at Mountain Trek, and see people of all fitness levels have a blast pushing themselves beyond the limits of their comfort zones.  No matter what condition they arrived in, we consistently see guests go home feeling energized and 10 years younger, proud of their accomplishments and with a renewed commitment to their health.  

How to Properly Fit a Pair of Hiking Boots


hiking boots on grass with flowers

Before venturing out for a hike, it’s important to have the right footwear. There are two things you need to know to find the perfect pair of hiking boots. Firstly, get acquainted with the different types of boots, and secondly, how to ensure a proper fit. We’ve laid out the basic information necessary to fit a pair of boots that will carry you comfortably into nature.

Types of Boots

Light Hikers AKA Trail Runners

Typically made of fabric and breathable mesh with a DWR finish, these are best suited for maintained trails. They have flexible soles and come with different grip types depending on terrain. Great for walking, trail running, and hiking for shorter distances. Depending on the strength of your ankles, you may want to opt for a higher boot. 

Light Over-Ankle Hikers

With a thicker sole, these are the better option for day hikes on maintained trails. They’ll carry you nicely over rocks, roots, and up those steep grades while giving your ankles a bit more support for your way down. Commonly found made of leather and/or fabric with a DWR finish. 

Backpacking Hikers

These boots are intended for multiday hikes into the backcountry. They have high ankle supports and thick soles designed to provide support for carrying more weight over both maintained and unmaintained trails. Also made of leather and/or fabric with a DWR finish.

Water-Proofing Your Hiking Boots

Most hiking boots come with a durable water-resistant finish. Depending on the quality of the boot and frequency of use, this can wear off after a short period of time. If you notice that water does not quickly bead and roll off a boot’s surface, it’s time to add a waterproofing treatment. 

First, clean the boot and then spray on or apply a waterproofing product such as Nikwax or Granger’s. Each company makes products specific to the material of your boot, whether it’s leather, suede, nubuck, or synthetic. Be sure to follow the instructions on the product’s label and once you’ve completed the application let the boot air dry – do not use a hairdryer.

Ensuring Proper Fit

Any reputable outdoor gear store or shoe store will have trained boot fitters on hand to take you through the selection process. They will measure all aspects of your foot (from length to width to arch size) and then suggest a number of different pairs of shoes to try. Try on at least five different pairs of shoes and be sure to lace them while standing up and putting your full weight on your foot. The correct boot for you should feel comfortable right from the beginning. 

Tips to ensure the perfect fit

Take your time 

Budget the time needed to be fitted and make the proper choice. Don’t show up to buy boots near the store’s closing time and then rush a decision.

Wait until the afternoon to shop

Feet swell as the day progresses, and you want the boots to fit well when they’re at their “pudgiest.”

Bring or buy good socks 

Bring your own merino wool or similar wicking-style socks to wear while trying shoes. We can’t say enough about the necessity of wearing a quality sock when you hike. They can make the difference between all-day comfort or misery. So many people pay top dollar for good boots, and then skimp when it comes to socks. Expect to pay a minimum of $15-$25 per pair. Merino wool is highly recommended, and there are many good synthetics in the market as well. Cotton socks hold moisture and create blisters.

Consider your foot’s measurements 

Good shop attendants will measure everything about your foot before you even consider putting a shoe one. This includes length, width, volume, and arch height.  Regarding length, when the boot is unlaced and the toes are pushed to the front of the boot there should be ¼ inch of space at the back of the boot. This small amount of space is necessary for some “give” when going up and down hills.

Note how they feel  

The right boot for you should feel comfortable from the beginning. Do not purchase a boot thinking that the comfort level will rise after a break-in period. If something is “off” in the store, then time and wear could make it worse, not better. Take time in the store to put the boots through their paces, and then wear them for several days indoors to make sure that no trouble areas develop. If during this trial time, a sore area is noted, return the boots to the store and try again. The perfect boot is out there, and this initial attention to detail will reward you with happy feet on the trail. Plan your first few hikes to be short ones, so that you and your new boots can gradually become acquainted.

So whether your walking on a gravel path, running a trail, or camping on mountain tops, use this guide to help find the right footwear to take you there! 

What is Mountain Trek?

Mountain Trek is the health reset you’ve been looking for. Our award-winning retreat, immersed in the lush nature of British Columbia, will help you 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 info@mountaintrek.com or reach out below:

Mother Nature is the Pill for Real Health

Snowshoeing for Fitness
Guests at Mountain Trek learn about the importance of time spent in nature for good health. Now there is a growing body of evidence showing exposure to nature is the root of good health and wellness. At Mountain Trek, we witness over and over the stress reduction and improved well-being of our guests each day, which contributes to increased fitness and weight loss.

Nature is cheaper and has fewer side effects than medications.

The reason we have our guests spend 5 to 6 hours outside every day is that nature has healing qualities.

The term “Nature Deficit Disorder” was first coined by writer Richard Louv in his book “Last Child in the Woods: Saving our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder”. This book brings together a growing body of research indicating that direct exposure to nature is essential for healthy childhood development, and for the physical and emotional health of children and adults. Louv directly links the absence of nature in the lives of today’s wired generation to some of the most disturbing childhood and adult health trends: the rise in obesity, attention disorders, and depression. You really can’t dispute his theory; the reduction in stress and an elevated sense of wellness experienced by our guests who spend each day in nature, directly supports his findings.

Many of the Mountain Trek staff have worked as park rangers and wilderness survival instructors, and we’ve noticed over the years how different people are when they are outside.

Ninety percent of our guests live in urban centers and deal with sensory overload on a regular basis.

Sound, visuals, light, movement, and smells are all way too intense in the city and get filtered out and dumbed down to minimize the stimulus. It’s not until at least three days of being in nature 4 hrs per day that the senses reawaken and guests start to hear the birds, notice the wind rustle through the trees and feel it on their skin.

Our findings at Mountain Trek are echoed in an article in Newsweek by Dr. Andrew Weil, on Nature Deficit Disorder that says “the human body was never designed for the modern post-industrial environment.” Weil suggests that the sedentary lifestyle that humans spend indoors, industrial food altered from its natural sources and an unprecedented overload of information and stimulation affect health in the way of depression, reduced physical activity, and overconsumption of processed food.

Spend some time at Mountain Trek and you’ll find your senses reawakening in nature and you’re stimulated to work harder on your fitness goals. Passing wild heather in the mountain alpine, we’ve noticed eyes bulge and hikers get lost in the smell and sensation, ignoring the burning of their thighs. And you just can’t experience that in your office.

What is Mountain Trek?

Mountain Trek is the health reset you’ve been looking for. Our award-winning health retreat, immersed in the lush nature of British Columbia, will help you detox, 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 info@mountaintrek.com or reach out below:

Who Comes to Mountain Trek?

Who Comes to Mountain Trek
Fitness Vacations aren’t just for people wanting to lose weight anymore.  At Mountain Trek, we  host people from all parts of the globe, ages and fitness levels, and occupation.  In fact, one of the most fulfilling components of the job is meeting such a variety of amazing people wanting to make healthy changes in their lives, and welcoming back Alumni year after year as an investment in their health.

There isn’t any one category to describe people who choose a boot camp style fitness retreat as a break, but there are plenty that do.  The Fitness Vacation trend is now the popular choice for anyone needing a healthy break from their un-healthy routine!  It appeals to a variety of folks who are adventure seekers, hiking enthusiasts, stressed out business people, and those needing a “boot camp” type of program to shed pounds quickly and safely.

Variety on the Trails

Mountain Trek hosts:

  • guests who have beaten cancer and are needing to regain their strength;
  • mothers and daughters, brothers and sisters, and spouses celebrating their 20th anniversary;
  • young couples from the city eager to hike the pristine mountains of British Columbia and breathe clean air and drink pure water;
  • hiking enthusiasts from Europe looking for a change of terrain and less crowds;
  • parents needing a break;
  • people wanting to learn about nutrition, healthy eating, and a balanced lifestyle;
  • organ transplant recipients;
  • the occasional Hollywood executive;
  • stressed career professionals needing to recharge their batteries, get back in touch with nature, and shed 6-10 pounds;
  • people in their 60’s who are young at heart and invest in staying in shape and keeping strong;
  • everyone in between who needs to detoxify from environmental pollutants, chemical and pesticide-laden foods, and a diet filled with food sensitivities and insulin imbalances;
  • and those who are motivated to lose weight and kick-start healthy lifestyle habits.

With the adventurous hiking terrain in spectacular surroundings, people have a blast pushing themselves beyond the limits of their comfort zones.  Our guests go home feeling energized and 10 years younger, proud of their accomplishments and with a renewed commitment to their health!

Get Moving for Your Health in 2012

A day in the alpineAre you still looking for a bit of inspiration to get moving and stay active?

Again and again, the message is about how vitally important it is to incorporate exercise into your life. Dr. Mike Evans, a physician and health columnist has made a strong case for walking as the best and easiest preventative medicine.

If you already walk as your means of exercise, why not enhance your training? You can walk smarter and burn more calories with Nordic walking poles. Poles can literally turn a 20 minute walk into a calorie torching, full-body workout.

At Mountain Trek we incorporate Nordic walking poles for just this reason, and more people are now catching on to them for use at home. Not only do they enhance cardio and provide stability and balance on the trails, but they help straighten posture and tone muscles in the upper body.

Here are some benefits of walking with poles. They:

  • lessen the impact when hitting the ground by 26%
  • engage over 90% of your major muscles (not just your legs!)
  • increase your cardio by a minimum of 20% and increase your calorie burn by up to 48%
  • give a full body workout for all ages and fitness abilities
  • pack up and go with you anywhere
  • support the walker in slippery winter conditions, great for seniors and those recovering from injury.

“Pole walking” is more than a passing trend. It originated in the 1930’s for cross country skiers in Finland to keep fit during the off season. It soon became popular with non-athletes once the total-body benefits and the overall fun of the activity were discovered. For decades it has been the activity of choice for millions of Northern Europeans.

Exercise is a lifestyle

It doesn’t just stop there with walking and cardio exercise however. As we are increasingly aware, maintaining wellness and vitality is a lifestyle, and healthy balance in all areas of life is the key. But without the vital ingredient of regular exercise, we simply won’t achieve the strength, stamina and weight loss that we desire.

Why are Mountain Trek Programs so successful for kick-starting weight loss and vitality? With men losing an average of 6-8 pounds a week and women, an average loss of 4-6 pounds, we provide the ideal combination of cardio, strength training, nutrition and detoxing that guarantees the pounds drop off.

What’s the best thing you can do for your health in 2012? Get active and get walking!

Take 10 minutes to watch this important and clever VIDEO by Dr. Mike Evans to get you motivated!

Hiking Tips & Techniques For Fitness

Working togetherHere are a few hiking techniques to practice in your new light hiking boots or trail runners…if you wish to prepare before joining us!

How to walk in the Woods at our hiking spa

It is said that ‘the journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step’, but what if that step is a steep muddy trail or crossing a moss covered log fording a melt water creek? Hiking in the woods is not always as simple as it sounds. Sure, if you want to lace up the sneakers and hike around Central Park it may be that simple, but to truly define and refine hiking you need to start with your footwork. Proper walking techniques while on the trail can increase endurance, reduce fatigue, and lessen the chance of injury which over all will make that thousand miles quite a bit easier. When we walk on the sidewalks of our hometowns we generally travel over even concrete, reasonably graded hills, uniform staircases and level walkways; all clear of dirt, sand and mud. On the trail none of these ideals exist, so we need to change the way we approach trails and use our minds as well as our feet.

Hiking Tips

Steep uphill:

The biggest mistake people make when climbing the hills is to get up on their toes. Keep your heels down, this will stretch out your calf muscles and Achilles tendons, reducing cramping and strains and it will keep all or most of your boots soles on the ground where they belong and more sole = more traction. Slow your pace by shortening your steps, don’t try to race up the hill, you’ll just tire quicker. Think of it as dropping your car into low gear, more power to climb, for the steepest hills you almost want to walk heel to toe.

Steep downhill:

As with uphill, shorten your stride, slow the pace. Bend your knees slightly to lower your center of gravity downward but not back. Too much leaning back will see your feet sliding out because your weight will be behind you, not over your boots where it should be. Done correctly you’ll find the quadriceps or upper leg muscles taking the brunt of the load, big muscles = a stable balanced descent. Sometimes it seems turning your feet at an angle to the trail will help but this will only increase your chances of rolling over on your ankle. Keep your toes pointed down for the best grip and stability. Most hiking boots are designed to have dirt and mud build up behind ridges on the soles and thus work best pointing straight ahead.

Off-angle or Traverses:

Often a trail paralleling a slope or ridgeline will angle down on one side. Usually leaning the upper body a little more over the uphill foot can help but for some awkward sections it may be easier to turn the feet sideways so the toes point down the off angle and then sidestep the trail for a short distance. This extreme is rare and only for serious odd angles, washouts or more often foot bridges and boardwalks that may have settled on one side.

Rocky (uneven) Trail/ Crossings:

When rocks and tree roots stick up out of the trail it is once again time to slow down. A little more care and focus will see you through. Keep eyes focused a few feet ahead of you and look through or past obstacles, looking at them will usually promote walking into them. The same can be said for log and bridge crossings, focus on the log a few feet ahead and walk with an even pace, don’t look down into the water as it can cause disorientation. Lastly, cross one at a time, two or more people on a log can cause it to bounce or sway.

The Good News Is…

Hiking The AlamoAs hikers it’s pretty obvious how important our knees are to us. Everything from proper hiking posture to using trekking poles to strength training, helps to keep knees healthy and ensures our ability to hike for many years to awe inspiring peaks and places.

It was affirming to read the article from the American Council of Sports Medicine, which provides strong evidence that physical activity is beneficial to knee joint health.

As it turns out, exercise affects each part of the knee differently, which helps explain why there have been conflicting reports for so long.

Happy knees like to move so keep getting those 10,000 steps in a day and do your strength training. Spring and hiking season are just around the corner!

Boot Camp Meets Base Camp – Mountain Trek in Nepal

Everest From Khumjung

For 2012 we’re upping the anté and taking the idea of “fitness vacation” to the next level…to an Everest Base Camp level!

If you’re looking for a unique physical challenge, and want to experience one of the most culturally rich places on the planet, join Kirk and iTrekNepal for the Himalayan Adventure (March 12-20, 2012), or the ultimateEverest Base Camp (March 18-April 1, 2012).

“I’m sure hiking Nepal with Kirk is like 2 weeks at Mountain Trek, except colder and with less oxygen,” commented one alumni member after receiving an e-blast about it. And yes, he signed up!

To join a Nepal trek you need to have a base level of fitness, stamina, and of course, the desire and drive for this kind of outdoor adventure. If this has peaked your interest – you can do it, it is a very reachable goal. Through conversations we’ve learned something really cool from our guests (some who’ve been sedentary for years): the fitness and bodily confidence that they gained through our program, has made tackling an experience like Everest Base Camp a worthy goal, call it a dangling carrot, to continue with their fitness regime. One guest told us that she’s “sticking a picture of Everest on her fridge, so it’s in plain view every day, to motivate her to get her sweat on!”

Click here for more information or contact the MT office at 1-800-661-5161, info@mountaintrek.com.

It’s Starting to Feel like Summer in the Mountains

I know, it’s only mid-April but when the weather throws me a high temperature, I begin to look at the Kootenay lake with anticipation. When can I go in for a swim? We have a long standing competition between the guides at Mountain Trek…who jumps into the water first? Brrrr….trust me, this water never truly warms up but gosh! does it invigorate your body, mind, and soul once you take the plunge. For those of you who have been here and done that, you know what I mean.

This kind of weather also turns up the desire to get outside, to simply be outside. Lucky I live here, in case you don’t know where the Kootenays are, that’s okay. It’s a piece of paradise nestled between a few mountain ranges, we kinda like to keep it a secret because once you visit you never want to leave. Our facebook page (Mountain Trek) has loads of photos as I can’t even find the words to describe the sheer beauty of this place. And did I mention that it looks like the spring is going to be awesome weather? I’m packing my backpack this weekend to go check out the trails we hike. And for those of you coming to MT, it’s sure to be some fine spring hiking. Just smell that skunk cabbage! (it’s one of the first wild flowers to show up in the spring here).


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