Welcome to Mountain Trek Alumni Stories, our newest blog feature!
Each month, we’ll sit down with a Mountain Trek Alumni to find out what they love about the program, what it’s done for their lives, and what keeps them coming back. Mountain Trek is a truly special place — but don’t take it from us alone. We’re humbled to have developed many “Mountain Trek Alumni” — people who come on the trip once a year to every couple of years. In order to hear from the people who’ve found the most value in our program, we interviewed a couple of regular alumni to understand their personal experience and just what makes Mountain Trek so special for them.
This month, we spoke with Sinead, a strategy consultant from Chicago, Illinois who makes Mountain Trek a regular part of her lifestyle in order to attain balance!
What made you come to Mountain Trek?
I am a strategy consultant and though I love my job, a few years ago I found that I was not taking enough time for me. I started by searching on Google, trying to find week-long retreats. I was looking for something active and outside, and that’s when I found Mountain Trek. For my first trip, I went by myself, looking for a bit of an adventure. I absolutely loved the experience — it completely took me out of my element! I’m a social person and usually love going out with my friends, but being alone and getting in touch with my body was exactly what I needed.
What was your initial goal in attending the Mountain Trek Program?
I was at a crossroads with my job when I first went to Mountain Trek, and I needed some time to step away and reflect. I went for the opportunity to gain clarity and decide what path I wanted to go down. I have been every year since then, four years in a row now.
What did you love most about how the program affected you even after you left?
Every year I go and every year I get something different and new out of my time. I take the advice from the instructors really seriously and always try to pick a few good habits and focus on them. I honestly think that over the course of the last four years, how I approach life, my diet and how I sleep has genuinely started to change. The last two times I have been to Mountain Trek, I have brought friends with me just to have someone sharing in what I was learning. For my most recent trip, I went with three work colleagues and now I have incredible support systems at home. My coworkers loved it and I think we will do it again. The way I describe it, Mountain Trek is exactly the opposite of our day to day lives, and sometimes that’s what we need.
Was there anything about that you got out of the program that really surprised you, or that you weren’t expecting?
It seems easy while you are at the lodge (and shortly after you have come back to focus on eating right and exercising) but one of the lessons I have really tapped into is around taking care of my own emotional and intellectual state, particularly thinking about the arts and how to keep my stress level low. Since my first visit to Mountain Trek, I have picked up the ukulele and now one of the ways I love to unwind is playing it on my porch. Mountain Trek was inspiring, encouraging me to find that side of life and value it.
If you could tell someone one thing about Mountain Trek, what would that be?
Regardless of what your goals are — whether health, a break, getting active or just love of hiking — there are so many things you can get out of your week. Sometimes you don’t even know what you need until you get there but, by the end of the week or two, you and your body will feel so good and you will be in a better place.