“So… How Was Your Trip to Everest Base Camp?”

“So… How Was Your Trip to Everest Base Camp?”

It’s the sentence I’ve been hearing over and over again from friends, family and co-workers: “So… How was your trip to Everest Base Camp??”

Of course I’m not surprised that they’re asking me this, but every time I would hear it the first few weeks after being back home, I would tend to draw a blank.

Actual photo of what the inside of my brain would look like (jkjk, I did take this on the way back down though. COME ON.)

It’s been 3 weeks since I’ve returned from my trip of a lifetime and I’m finally feeling up to writing a bit about it.

Mary Anne’s a trooper and has been a lot more committed to working on HikeAddicts stuff than I’ve been lately. To be fair, she got home 4 days before me so has had a little more time to adjust… Okaaaay, weak excuse.

I have the tendency, like anything in my life, to avoid, avoid, avoid.

Avoiding trying to describe what it was like to go from full on adventures every day then back to reality.

Avoiding going through and editing my GoPro footage from the trip.

Avoiding writing here when I’ve had tons of friends and family asking me why I haven’t yet.

It was easier for me to throw myself back into work and start full on training for upcoming races I’ve signed up for. Part of my brain seriously doesn’t even believe we actually were in Nepal, climbing to Everest Base Camp.

Everest Base Camp.

It’s one of those things where you say it over and over, it starts to sound like nothing.

But it is something. A thing we friggin’ conquered. And the entire team made it, even though there were struggles with altitude sickness, flus, and injuries (old AND new). Not only am I proud of myself for accomplishing this feat, I’m damn proud of every single one of my teammates who toughed it out.

A very small part of the entire group but I’m not gonna lie, I like this pic more than the huddled up, blurry group shot of us all at base camp. SO, MOUNTAIN GAL PALZ.

The trek was one of the most challenging things I’ve done in my life for a lot of reasons. Compared to climbing Mount Kilimanjaro, yes, the accommodations were easier to handle. We had roofs over our heads, running water (at some of the teahouses), we didn’t have to sleep on the ground and we even had a few opportunities to shower (BLESS).

BUT, it was a hell of a lot longer. Eight days compared to twelve is a lot when you’re talking 8-9 hour days of hiking, people.

Luckily, I enjoy hiking (duh).

That doesn’t mean that I didn’t have my moments in my head where I thought, “What the hell is wrong with me? Why am I here? What kind of person takes all of their vacation days in one go to go through this kind of torture?”.

Thank God those thoughts wouldn’t last for more than a couple minutes. Lovely.

Luckily, the wonderful moments outweighed the not-so-wonderful moments. Like, 10,000 to 1. Some of my all time favorite little nuggets include: learning about the significance of prayer wheels, running out of a tea house at night to dramatically whip around and see the incredible lit-up mountain view, and the exhilarating helicopter ride back up to base camp (oh, and the 20 minute adrenaline rush that followed it).

And now, after some time at home spending quality time with family and friends who I love (having word-vomited every single story I could think of), I’m finally feeling back to normal.

No more jet-lag or post-trip depression (IT’S A REAL THING, YOU GUYS).

No more daydreaming about being back on the mountain with my Dream Team, ordering apple-water-porridge for breakfast every morning and dal bhat for dinner every night (while calling out BB’s name just so we can hear him say “YES PEES”).

Bichitra aka BB aka our guide/angel on earth.

I’ve had time to adjust, reflect, go through allllll of my pictures and videos (some of which I literally have zero memory of taking- thanks, high altitude memory loss) and come back to reality.

I’m back in my normal jam packed schedule of work-running-football-cottage-reading-writing-yoga-hiking-patio-drinks life that I’ve built (and love!).

So, lately when people have been asking me “How was your trip to EBC?”, I feel like I can finally go from being completely overwhelmed and not knowing what to say to saying:

“It was easily the most incredible experience of my life.”

But in the back of my mind I’m thinking… What’s next?

Vicky

Vicky Castledine

Vicky is a Content Marketing Manager from Monday to Friday and a trail runner/ book lover/ dog hugger/ wilderness explorer after 5 PM and on weekends.

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6 UNIQUE GIFT IDEAS FOR THE HIKER IN YOUR LIFE

6 UNIQUE GIFT IDEAS FOR THE HIKER IN YOUR LIFE

Alright, so maybe we’re a challenging type of person to shop for around the holidays. We’ll be the first to admit it.

We know what we like to wear on the trails, have broken in multiple pairs of our go-to hiking boots, can be picky with food, have mastered the art of fitting everything perfectly into our day packs, and tend to get a little vocal when it comes to the “pole or no pole” debate.

So, what do you buy for the hiker in your life who seems to already have it all?

I’m here to help, my friends. Here’s a quick ‘n dirty list of some unique ideas that you may not have thought of…

1) Enamel Camping Mug

Hiker Gift Idea Enamel MugPhoto cred: Emalco.com

Even if your hiker pal already has one, you can never have TOO many mugs, right? Plus, it’s nice to change it up a little. So, why not support a local artist like Black Coffee or get a mountain themed one they’ll definitely dig?

OR, if you’re a crafty little rascal, make it EXTRA personal by designing your own! You can do this with a company like VistaPrint, although buying in bulk may be your only option.

Bonus points are rewarded if you add in a carabiner for clipping the mug somewhere handy for easy access!

2) Waterproof Lighter

Hiker Gift Idea Waterproof LighterPhoto cred: Pinterest

A friend of mine gifted me one of these bad boys last Christmas and it’s been in my pack since then. Here’s a list of the best ones on the market to check out for inspiration!

3) Subscription to Backpacker Magazine

Hiker Gift Idea Backpacker MagazinePhoto cred: Fontmeme.com

It doesn’t have to be Backpacker Magazine. It can be any outdoor, lifestyle or fitness magazine! This is the gift that keeps giving and your pal will think of you each time it comes in the mail.

4) Rent a Yurt

Hiker Gift Idea Rent a YurtPhoto cred: Mary Anne snagged this one!

If your budget is a little higher than the stuff listed above, then splurge and rent a yurt! SO FUN! If you’re like us HikeAdditcts, you prefer glamping over camping any day. This is a fantastic alternative to sleeping on the cold, hard ground while also feeling like you’re one with nature. Ommm.

We’ve stayed at some pretty beautiful spots over the years but I have to say that one of my all time favorites was a yurt in Vermont with this super adorable and accommodating family. It may not look like much from the outside, but the inside was like a magical fairy tail with tiny white Christmas lights galore!

5) Jack&Joel “Gatineau Park” Soap

Hiker Gift Idea Jack and Joel SoapPhoto cred: JackAndJoel.com

 

Jack&Joel is an Ottawa soap company and you know how much we LOVE supporting local! They have a wonderful line of soaps, bath salts and shaving products that will leave you smelling like nature-y dream.

6) Mountain Jewelry

Hiker Gift Idea Mountain Jewelry Photo cred: MMackenzieJones Etsy

We are huge fans of these mountain necklaces made by Mackenzie Jones Designs Inc from Calgary.  From the Three Sisters Mountain to Mount Rundle, the mountains will never be too far from your heart. Check out her Etsy store here!

And, if you don’t like any of these ideas or are still feeling unsure, you really can’t go wrong with a gift card for MEC, Trialhead, Cabela’s, Bushtukah, Ice Breaker, Eddie Bauer or any other sporting stores in Ottawa.

Happy shopping!

Vicky Castledine

Vicky is a Content Marketing Manager from Monday to Friday and a trail runner/ book lover/ dog hugger/ wilderness explorer after 5 PM and on weekends.

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WELLESLEY ISLAND STATE PARK, NY

WELLESLEY ISLAND STATE PARK, NY

Location: Jefferson County, NY
Starting Point: Wellesley Island Nature Centre
Route we took: Eel Bay Trail to Narrows Trail to South Bay Trail to East Trail to North Field Loop
Total Distance: 7 km
Time: 1.5 hours
Level of Difficulty: Super easy, hardly any elevation

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Vicky Castledine

Vicky is a Content Marketing Manager from Monday to Friday and a trail runner/ book lover/ dog hugger/ wilderness explorer after 5 PM and on weekends.

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MY STRUGGLE WITH ATHLETE’S IMPOSTERS’ SYNDROME

MY STRUGGLE WITH ATHLETE’S IMPOSTERS’ SYNDROME

Athlete’s imposters’ syndrome. This is something I had struggled with a lot growing up. I was a runner, an Irish dancer, a downhill skier, a basketball player, a touch football player… Yet, whatever sport I was playing, these thoughts would always creep up on me:

“She’s better than I am.”

“I have lots of practice to do.”

“I wonder if I’ll ever be at so-and-so’s level.”

“I’m not good enough.”

Turns out I wasn’t alone, though. I brought this subject up with my sister, Heather, and she told me she felt the same way. My sisters and I were thrown into ski lessons as soon as we could walk so we’ve felt comfortable on the slopes for pretty much our whole lives.

When we got to high school, Heather and I began to race competitively (she was always better than I was) but I just recently learned that she had felt like a “poser” or imposter every time she raced. We had literally been skiing for 10+ years at this point, yet there she was, feeling out of place and like she wasn’t legit enough to fit in with the other racers.

Why?

Because she hadn’t been “competitive” until she was a teen?

What was it about us that made us feel so inadequate? Why did we struggle with confidence in things we were actually GOOD at? Part of me thinks that’s just what comes with being an awkward teenager, but I also know a lot of people who never struggled with this (or I guess, more likely, never talked about it).

As I grew up and began to get to know myself a little better, (aka reading approximately 1700 self-help books) these thoughts started to go away. I started to care less about how others surrounding me performed because I realized that 1) I’m no longer competing for any trophies/medals/titles and 2) I’m an adult. I don’t need to compare myself to anyone. HA! Easier said than done, I know.

So, you may be asking yourself: What does this have to do with hiking?

Well, these nasty, annoying thoughts crept their way back into my head about a week ago when someone asked me for hiking advice.

I’ve only been ‘seriously’ hiking for about 3 years now but since then have tackled some wicked tough day hikes like the Bruce Trail in Tobermory, Mount Marcy in Lake Placid and Mount Washington in New Hampshire.

I’ve summited Mount Kilimanjaro, an 8-day trek that ended with a midnight summit night and I’m just about to start my training for a trip to Everest Base Camp in 8 months from now.

Yet, here I was, feeling like a complete imposter when asked for advice.

What made this person think I was legit? I only started hiking a few years ago! Yes, I have a hiking blog with my best friend that I’m super passionate about but little does this person know that I still consider myself a COMPLETE newbie.

This is where I caught myself though.

I’m a newbie. I haven’t been hiking for years and years and I just discovered Merino Wool this past winter. I’m a newbie. I only JUST figured out the proper amount of water to consume while hiking and I still wear a baseball cap on sunny days that has zero back of neck protection from the sun so I sometimes burn. I’m a newbie. My sense of direction is and always has been horrible and I’m still convinced I could survive off Cliff bars alone (shout out to Kristi for never laughing at my hilarious poop joke). I’M. A. NEWBIE.

And… I’m okay with that!

This is a learning process for me. This blog, these community hikes we organize, the various speaking engagements we’re asked to participate in; I’m learning AS I’m teaching.

Isn’t that half the fun?

Vicky

Vicky Castledine

Vicky is a Content Marketing Manager from Monday to Friday and a trail runner/ book lover/ dog hugger/ wilderness explorer after 5 PM and on weekends.

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NATURAL REMEDIES FOR THE HIPPY HIKER

NATURAL REMEDIES FOR THE HIPPY HIKER

I’d like to preface this post by saying that as an outdoorsy girl (click here if you are too – I friggin’ LOVED this post), I have learned in my 27 years on earth that NOTHING works quite like Deet. Nothing. Yes, it’s flammable, toxic and will probably make you sick but if you want to be left alone by all of nature’s creepy crawlers, there’s nothing natural that will do the trick the same way Deet does. Sorry. I wish I could tell you that covering yourself in lemon juice and thyme will make bugs steer clear but chances are it’ll just make you smell like you’ve finished marinating and are ready for the BBQ.

Now that that’s out of the way, let’s tackle some tried and true natural remedies that I swear by and frequently use…

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Vicky Castledine

Vicky is a Content Marketing Manager from Monday to Friday and a trail runner/ book lover/ dog hugger/ wilderness explorer after 5 PM and on weekends.

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5 THINGS MOUNT WASHINGTON TAUGHT ME

5 THINGS MOUNT WASHINGTON TAUGHT ME

A week has gone by since we climbed Mount Washington and it’s given me a little time to reflect (and to be perfectly honest, finally write). It’s Sunday afternoon, approximately 10,000 degrees out so why not use this time to plunk by butt down by my window A/C, listen to Lorde’s new album on repeat and put into words what I’ve spent the past week thinking about.

1) I can’t hike slowly.

Ok, so I already kinda knew this one going into the trip. Being the girl who grew up playing every sport imaginable, I naturally have a competitive side. Not necessarily with others, but with myself. “I can totally climb this in under ___ hours” is a phrase that has repeatedly been on loop in my brain for… Ever?

Since we were such a large group on Mount Washington, Mary Anne and I decided to have one of us lead and the other stay at the back. Within the first 20 minutes of the hike there was quite a substantial distance between Mary Anne and myself. The fastest hikers were tearing up the mountain and my group was moseying, chatting and taking pics.

Let me clarify something real quick: This is not me complaining. We all hike at different speeds and like to enjoy nature in different ways but in the game plan to all stick together, this just wasn’t working. Eventually, we all met up at a beautiful bridge over a stream to reassess.

Unfortunately one of the girls in our group was getting some nasty blisters and an old knee injury was acting up so we all had the conversation of whether or not she should/could continue.

Spoiler alert: She did end up continuing, summited and absolutely CRUSHED it.

At this point we shook up the groups and I decided to lead with the fast people and Mary Anne would stick back with the rest of the pack. This ended up working out great as we finished up the hike about an hour and a half quicker, which gave us time to grocery shop and prep dinner for everyone.

(Jeremy and Colin making it look easy)

2) I overestimate my physical abilities sometimes.

When Alexa (the girl I mentioned above with the blisters and knee injury) told me early on that she was struggling, my instincts were to 1) Find Moleskin and 2) Determine whether or not I could run the trail. I didn’t want her going back to the parking lot alone so I figured I could hike back down with her then run back up the mountain to catch up with the rest of the group.

HA!

About 10 minutes into hiking with the “quick group” my confidence was put back into place and I remember chuckling to myself, thinking “Girrrl, in what world?”.

3) A great way to catch your breath is to pretend you NEED to stop to get a pic.

Totally stole this one from Rachel. Genius. There were only 4 of us in our group: 2 guys and 2 girls (the guys, by the way, are fit AF and didn’t seem to struggle at ALL on the mountain) so I noticed when Rachel was starting to feel it, she’d stop for a picture. WHY HAVE I NEVER THOUGHT OF THIS? Or maybe I’ve subconsciously done it, protecting my ego. That sounds more likely.

 

(This is totally a “You guys go ahead, I’m just  need to snag a quick shot here” photo)

4) There’s something a lot less rewarding about a summit with a parking lot and cafeteria full of people (although the coffee and Doritos were HELLA good).

This was a weird one for me.

Every mountain I’ve summited in the past has been peaceful, serene and incredibly rewarding. This one ended with a staircase that lead to the Mount Washington Summit sign, where a crowd of well dressed and non-sweaty people lined up to take their picture. I’m sorry, but DRIVING to the top of a mountain isn’t photo op worthy. Those bumper stickers that say “This car drove to the top of Mt Washington” are a little silly, if you ask me. Know what’s not silly? The bumper sticker I saw in the parking lot at the bottom that read “The person who owns this car ran up Mt Washington”.

Nope, not silly. Insane? Maybe.

 

(Rachel & I at the summit)

5) The last hour of the hike tends to bring the best conversation.

To be honest, this one I’ve noticed before on previous hikes but it really rang true on this trip. On the way up, we all talked mostly about the difficulty of the hike, the route and other mountain related random things.

The majority of the way down we chit-chatted about food, other trips/adventures and sore joints. In the last hour or so, the conversation turned to relationships, meditation, self help books and overall health. My jaaaam. There’s something about being completely exhausted that tears down walls and brings out the real sh*t.

I’m already looking forward to our next mountain adventure…

Where to next?

– Vicky

Vicky Castledine

Vicky is a Content Marketing Manager from Monday to Friday and a trail runner/ book lover/ dog hugger/ wilderness explorer after 5 PM and on weekends.

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TOP 5 HIKING SOCKS

TOP 5 HIKING SOCKS

So there’s absolutely nothing fab about socks, no matter how I work my way through this. But my hope here is that I write this post and maybe someday someone is researching hiking socks, Googles “Best socks for hiking” and stumbles across our blog. One can hope, right?

 

These are the socks I swear by and brought with me to hike Mount Kilimanjaro. Of course it’s a personal preference but if you’re looking for kick-a$$ socks that will keep your feet warm, dry and comfy then read on!

 

5) Wigwam Merino Light Hiker Socks

Not only is Wigwam fun to say, they make great socks too! Ok, that deserves an eye roll. I like how these are a little tighter around the arch of your foot and have cushioning around the heel and forefoot. Can we all just take a second to read the top review for these socks titled “The Beatles of Socks” where they’re compared to “a million of the world’s cutest puppies licking your feet”?

‘Nuff said.

4) Smartwool Hiking Women’s Crew Socks

There’s nothing fancy about the Smartwool socks but they do the trick. I have a few pairs of them and over the years they’ve become a staple in my hiking wardrobe.

 

3) DARN TOUGH Light Hiker Micro Crew Sock

I only have one pair of these babies and they’re the pair that I grab as soon as they’re out of the wash. These were the first pair of hiking socks I bought when I was at SAIL; Up until then I was hiking in athletic ankle socks. How, I’ll never really know. Such a rookie move.

What I love about these socks are that they’re super light weight but are somehow (with the magic of Merino Wool) still incredibly warm.

 

2) Women’s Merino Wool GX Hiking Socks

These were an online find only a week or so before my trip to Tanzania and MAN, am I ever happy to have found them. They come in a beautiful rainbow of colours (FUN!) and also happen to be a cheap yet awesome sock. I wore these for probably 80% of my time on Killy.

Even though these are my second fave sock, there’s not much to say about them other than the fact that they’re super comfy, kept my feet warm (or cool in hotter temps) and didn’t break the bank. Two big ol’ thumbs up.

 

1) Icebreaker Lifestyle Ultralight Women’s Crew Socks

Oh, Icebreaker, you did it again. My collection is starting to look like I’m a walking ad for the company. If you don’t own anything by Icebreaker and you’re an outdoorsy person you need to drop every right this second and buy some NOW. This is an order.

These lightweight, super soft, non-itchy, anti-blister socks are the bomb.com and well worth the slightly higher price-tag.

 

Happy trails!

– Vicky

Vicky Castledine

Vicky is a Content Marketing Manager from Monday to Friday and a trail runner/ book lover/ dog hugger/ wilderness explorer after 5 PM and on weekends.

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COMING HOME FROM KILLY IS HORRIBLE AND WONDERFUL

COMING HOME FROM KILLY IS HORRIBLE AND WONDERFUL

Coming home from a trip is always hard. Getting back into your normal routine, having the same conversations about the same topics that didn’t seem to change while you were away with the same people. Before your trip you didn’t notice it at all but something happened while you were away. Maybe a shift? Maybe a new perspective? It’s hard to pinpoint but you can feel it.

 

Your attention span is smaller and you find yourself drifting back to that place you just were days or weeks ago. My way of coping is with distractions; Whether it’s running, baking, reading, meeting up with a new or old friend for coffee or lunch, binge watching my favorite shows I’m behind on, driving around the city playing my music way too loud… But not really feeling the feelings because it’s too soon.

 

Is it dramatic of me to say that coming home from a trip is a little like mourning?

 

Hear me out.

 

I’m mourning the adventure of a lifetime. I’m mourning the wake up calls, the feeling of adrenaline that comes with the great unknown and always, ALWAYS having someone right beside me when I need to talk (or, sometimes even more importantly, not talk).

 

When I get caught up in these sometimes overwhelming feelings of loss and sadness though I remember how lucky I am that I can just pick up my phone and text or call one of my Dream Team members and reminisce or meet up because I know they’re going exactly what I’m going through. What we experienced together was not only incredible, it was really f*cking hard (sorry, Mom). There’s no way we didn’t all change on that mountain. We all left a piece of ourselves at the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro and I’m more than okay with that.

 

Alright, enough of that.

 

Coming home is also really wonderful. The feeling I had after travelling for what felt like FOREVER and seeing my family with their homemade signs standing at the train station was indescribable. I’m super lucky to have a family unit that’s incredibly close and we’re used to seeing each other at LEAST once a week so it’s not shocking that the reunion was an emotional one and a moment I’ll never forget.

 

The next night we had a little celebration for my sister’s 30th birthday, which was the day before, and I THINK I was there. 😉 Lots of stories and squeezes from some of my favorite people later, I passed out on the couch on my mom’s lap like I did when I was a kid and had the best nap of my life.

 

Damn, it’s good to be home.

 

– Vicky

Vicky Castledine

Vicky is a Content Marketing Manager from Monday to Friday and a trail runner/ book lover/ dog hugger/ wilderness explorer after 5 PM and on weekends.

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JOURNEY TO KILIMANJARO: ON CTV MORNING LIVE

Check us out on CTV Morning Live! We’re officially t-minus 3 days away from our adventure of a lifetime. Here we chat with Lianne Laing and our co-leader, Jason, about our fundraising efforts, training and how we’re feeling being just days away from Killy!

Click here for the video!

Screen Shot 2017-03-27 at 1.59.35 PM.png

 

Vicky Castledine

Vicky is a Content Marketing Manager from Monday to Friday and a trail runner/ book lover/ dog hugger/ wilderness explorer after 5 PM and on weekends.

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OUR BIG OL’ LIST OF KILLY FEARS

Alright, so we were told in preparation for this adventure that worrying/ overthinking/ an anxious mind would most likely only make things worse. Getting worked up about altitude sickness will probably just end up backfiring.

So the title of this blog entry may alarm our hike leaders but let me tell you right now that this is how we cope with stress… Writing it all down then destroying it. With fire. 🙂

 

Vicky Castledine

Vicky is a Content Marketing Manager from Monday to Friday and a trail runner/ book lover/ dog hugger/ wilderness explorer after 5 PM and on weekends.

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