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Walking through the secluded forest, the only sounds heard are birds chirping overhead, and the thudding of hiking boots and poles as they make contact with the ground below. All around, trees soar up to the sky, delicate flowers bloom in the most unlikely places and creeks rush down the mountainside. Looking up to the treetops, blue sky peeks above and the sun’s dappled light streams through the branches.

That is but just one scenario when hiking with Mountain Trek in British Columbia, Canada. And though it sounds serene, the hiking, and the entire Mountain Trek program, is anything but a casual walk in the park. The one and two-week all-inclusive hiking retreat programs — the only mountain-based hiking, fitness and weight loss program in all of North America — are intense yet intimate, limited to 16 guests per week, with a 4:1 staff-to-guest ratio.

Days at Mountain Trek begin with a soft knock on your bedroom door and a cheery “good morning” at 6 a.m. —there aren’t any TVs or radios in the lodge’s bedrooms or common areas, and just a few strategically-placed clocks and the program flows effortlessly through the day. After the wakeup knock, mornings typically include a restorative yoga class, followed by breakfast and a talk with one of the experienced staff members who share their expertise in the five steps of the program, the Mountain Trek Way: nutrition, fitness, detoxification, sleep health and stress management. Afterwards, it’s to the mountain trails for three to four hours of hiking, enjoying lunch mid-way with a fabulous view, whether on a lakeside beach, perched a top a mountaintop, or any place that looks inviting.

Back at the lodge in the afternoons, another talk may be presented, or perhaps time for a quick soak in the hot tub before dinner, which is then followed by a workout class. When 7 o’clock rolls around, everyone’s favorite part of the program begins: massages. Each guest enjoys three hour-long massages included with their stay, and there’s always the option to add-on more, or even reflexology, acupuncture, or cranial sacral therapy sessions, to name a few more.

The incredibly attentive Mountain Trek staff makes sure everything is done for you once you arrive so that all you have to do is focus on you, which is somewhat easy since all aspects of the program are individualized for each guest. From preparing delicious, clean meals and snacks that cater to every eating regimen, to customizing fitness routines and hiking groups to be sure you get the best workout for you, to preparing your room for your return, to doing your laundry. Yes, laundry the staff is constantly washing and folding to make sure you have what you need to make the most of your stay.

But it’s more than your stay – the Mountain Trek team ensures you have the tools to take home so that you can continue to take advantage of all that you’ve learned during your program and continue your journey. In fact, an app for Mountain Trek alumnae is soon launching as another tool to help keep on track.

After all, as Mountain Trek guide Cathy says, “Little steps get you up the mountain.”

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