We met Katie during our ULA Bootcamp and Goal Setting event at U Village’s Athleta store earlier this year. After a 30 minute sweat session, we encouraged individuals to reflect on a goal they have by applying our SUMMIT acronym. In September, it was so exciting to see Katie back at our Stronger Together Bootcamp and learn that she had CONQUERED HER SUMMIT and that our workshop had helped. We asked if she would be willing to share her story.
Hello, I'm Katie and this is how I have conquered my summit.
For a long time, I was plateauing with my workouts. My sister's wedding was coming up and I was not getting an effective workout at the gym, I just felt like I was doing the same thing over and over. I wasn't giving myself a proper workout.
One random weekend in late February, my friend dragged me to Athleta to buy new workout clothes. As someone who was only exposed to limited workout clothes, I immediately wanted all the pants, tops, sports bras, etc. I noticed a sign that displayed workout events for March taught by various instructors in the Seattle area. I thought “sure, why not? I’ll sign up because I need to mix up my workout routine anyway.”
My first class was bright and early in March at 8am on a Saturday for the “Sweat & Goal Set with Ula. Oh boy, that class was challenging. I was super sweaty, but I felt like I actually got a good workout. After the workout was done and we were cooling down, Ives and Christy started talking about goal setting. Christy told her story on training for a half marathon. She was very inspiring, how she couldn't just start running 13.1 miles. She needed to slowly progress to her goal (it's a summit after all, you need to train for it). When the class was over, I started thinking of what my own summit could be as running is not my jam. I knew I wanted a proper challenge, not just the "I want to get in shape for a wedding". Recently at the gym, I started swimming. I was inspired to swim because my mom swam 3 times a week after she had my sister and wanted to get in shape for her own sister’s wedding. Plus I love the water. I learned to swim before I could walk (per my mom). However, I would only do about 15 or 18 laps. Before I left the class, I decided my summit challenge would be to swim a mile.
A bit of background, 1 lap is going back and forth across the pool (25 yards each way). I was told I had to do 36 laps to get to that mile. Currently, I was already swimming half a mile so I had a good start. My typical routine is 1 lap of freestyle, 1 lap back stroke and 1 lap breast stroke. Once I completed those 3 moves, I was finished with 1 round. Each new month, I would add an extra round. Thus, my goal to reach that mile would be August with an aim to swim 2-3 times a week (or really whenever I needed to wash my hair. If you’re going to take the time to shampoo and condition your hair, might as well get a good workout in).
I never did swim in high school (I did dance team instead) so I was really challenging myself in completing this goal. Oh boy, was it a real challenge. There were times, I was mentally telling myself, “nah, just stop at 21 laps, you can make it up on the next swim.” Thank goodness for my accountability partner and I had to text her whenever I finished. I mentally overcame the block and continued to push myself. But remember, it’s ok to stop if you’re pushing yourself physically too hard. Over the next few months, I felt myself getting stronger and plus my breathing improved (bonus!). It got to the point where I started to adding in extra rounds before the following month hit. Before June, I was at 10 rounds (30 laps). One swim session, I decided to go for that 11th round. Once I completed it, I realized I had the energy to do 1 more. I successfully completed my mile goal a month and a half early and before my sister's wedding. It felt amazing to complete my goal, both physically and mentally. I knew at this point, anything was possible.
Just because I conquered my summit, doesn't mean the journey is over. Some of the new summits I plan on conquering is to swim a mile in under an hour (currently at an hour and 5 min!), participate in the Park to park swim next August (swimming across Lake Washington) and perhaps do a triathlon (except I hate running so we'll see about that one).
I would like to thank Ula and Us for inspiring me to push myself. I would also like to thank Athleta for holding these amazing workout events. This community is strong and amazing and I'm glad to be apart of it. Finally, I want to thank my friends and family for being supportive and holding me accountable. I could not have done this without their encouragement.
Finally, I am writing to you about part 2 of our road trip, which is really the best part! For those of you reading, if you go to Banff I would absolutely make the time to drive from Banff to Jasper National Park, this drive alone is breathtaking and you may have a few life revelations. After our hike around Lake Louise we started the drive, but landed early at a campsite to wake up to beautiful blue skies for our morning coffee and breaky.
From Banff to Jasper you are on Icefields Pkwy, which again is insane. We stopped and did a stunning hike called Parker Ridge, which was 1,000 feet elevation gain and 5 miles total. We wanted a fairly short hike given our long hike the day before and the effort put in was SO worth the views. This short hike brings you to a ridge-line with views of peaks and glaciers! What more can you ask for? A bit chilly at the top, but this hike is doable for beginners to advance, just be prepared for the elevation gain in 2.5 miles:).
We spent the rest of the day driving into Jasper, taking in all of the glorious views, each way you looked for about 2 hours there were lakes, glaciers, and mountainous terrain. Jasper is a less touristy version of Banff in my opinion. I would love to go back to Banff and explore more, but it was nice to get out of the crowds to unwind and connect with nature, what we had came out there for in the first place. Jasper is a little ski town with breweries, coffee shops, and lots of local outdoor shops. We grabbed a bite at a local brewery and then stopped at a local grocery store to grab one of my must haves (dairy free- coconut ice cream) and found a campsite nearby. If you need a place to do laundry, get connected to WiFi, take a shower, and grab a good cup of coffee (holy genius right?!) check out SnowDome Coffee Bar ! There were also little shops in the area to pick up gear if you forgot anything.
After grabbing a bite, we decided to head up towards Miete Hot Springs and came across a lake that was so shallow you could walk to the other end and the water only went up to your thighs! As far as the hot spring goes, I wouldn't suggest going here for a natural hot springs experience, but it was nice to get a little soak and also take a shower since this was the first of the trip. I felt pretty phenomenal after the soak and shower, so we quickly found a place to pull off and camp for the night as the sun was beginning to set. The next day we would make the drive to Mt. Robson National Park. Below is a quick map of the driving route, so you have an idea of what that looks like. We had to drive back down towards Jasper, then NW to get to Mt. Robson National Park which is in British Columbia, as this is where we would be starting our 3 days, 2 night (or so we thought) backpacking trip to Berg Lake.
I had done a lot of research to find one of the most beautiful and diverse backpacking trips in the Canadian Rockies and continued to stumble upon the Berg Lake Trail. Google pictures of it yourself and I guarantee you will add it to your bucket list. It's a 26 mile (42 km) hike, which takes you through diverse landscapes including turquoise lakes, waterfalls, glaciers and around the highest peak in the Canadian Rockies - Mount Robson, landing you smack dab in front of the beauty herself, Ms. Mt. Robson. We packed up our gear, slapped on our bags, checked in at the visitor center and got ready for the first part of trek to our campsite for the evening at Whitehorn.
On a personal note, after all the initial excitement of our longest backpacking trip to date with just the two of us, we realized we didn't think about the fact that I was about 3 1/2 months prego, would it be okay to strap the bottom strap of the backpack? But without the strap it's extremely bad for your back, especially with the distance we were going. We decided to put all of our heavy stuff in Rob's backpack and the lighter items in mine. Still, we were a little freaked out, so my amazing hubs carried both packs (one on the front, one on the back and trekked 6 miles to the campsite.. practice for future baby hikes if you know what I'm saying). This was our first fail, but let's get back to the hike. After hiking about 4 miles, you will pass the first campsite, Kenny Lake. It is absolutely stunning and I would not have minded camping here but it just doesn't make a significant dent in the trip, so we made it to whitehorn.
It started to rain us, so we were excited to get to the little shelter and make dinner, but this is where we discovered we FORGOT fuel. So guys, lesson to everyone, enjoy this hike, just make none of the same mistakes we made. Luckily, we met a friendly family (who actually were hiking to Berg Lake to get married, HOW FUN!) who let us borrow their fuel so we could heat up our Good to Go meals. The catch is that we were also counting on boiling water for hydration, so we were in a predicament. With this being said, our original plan was to spend the night at Berg Lake the following night, then hike back down to head to the airport the third day. We decided we would leave our packs and tent at the first campsite and do 19 miles in 1 day. Call us crazy, but we didn't want to miss out on essentially one of the biggest reasons for our trip!
So with this, after a good nights sleep, we woke up as early as possible, had breakfast and began our trek. This part of the trail is up hill, but oh my goodness it is worth every step. At this point, I was happy to not be wearing a backpack. After about 3.5 miles up hill, you are rewarded with the beauty of a waterfall. We were pushing through the hike, so unfortunately I didn't snag any pics, but definitely take a second to grab a snack, drink some water, and savor the views.
The trail does flatten out after you pass the falls and just over a mile further you will begin to get your first glance at Mt Robson. From there you will hike through valleys, across the Robson River to what was our final destination, Berg Lake. In an ideal situation, I would recommend spending a few nights at Berg Lake. There are so many side trails you can explore. This will be one I add to the list to do again and spend a few days exploring and really getting to take in all this area has to offer! After taking in the views and eating our lunch, to make a long story short, we headed back to our first campsite, picked up our packs and made the trek back down to our van. I will save all the details, but we were dead, delirious, ate a HUGE meal consisting of burgers, fries, and all the things but in all honestly had a blast and would do it again.