Today, July 6th, 2016, a group of amazing LOLA hikers will be heading out on the trip o a lifetime – they will be starting their hike along the West Coast Trail. The West Coast Trail is a 75 km long backpacking trail following the southwestern edge of Vancouver Island in British Columbia. The trail has a reputation for being both breathtakingly beautiful and challenging, given its length, uncertain weather conditions, and difficult terrain including more than three-dozen ladders – some over 30 feet high.

Undertaking such an experience changes people. It can push them to their limits, show them what they are capable of, bond groups, and inspire new visions for one’s self and one’s future. So we thought we would follow one of our hikers, Janine Keogh, through her journey. See what Janine had to say before setting out on her trip and then check-in again at the end of the month to see what she took away from her experience.

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Janine’s Story (Part 1): West Coast Trail Hiker! Wait… What?

Take a look at me now. I look like I’m in control. I don’t mind a surprise, as long as I know when it is coming. I take so much comfort in having a sense of control. It’s not about controlling others and all situations – but I do like to feel l can calmly handle anything coming my way. I can be spontaneous – but only if I plan ahead. I’ve spent 20 years of my life building brands, developing talent, putting strategic plans in place and leading teams. I like to have plans & goals for work, for home, and for life. I relish in delivering against them, and I’m good at it.

So why the West Coast Trail? It’s one of the most challenging hikes in the world; because of the varied terrain – rainforest, mountains, and ocean weather conditions all wrapped into one. Even as I pack “my gear” in a backpack for 7 days on the trail, I’m still not certain about what is to come. It will be a big surprise. That’s the challenge for someone like me who likes to be in control. But, 2016 is a year I have chosen to push myself to a place where I have to surrender and just “let it happen”. I’m not a camper, hiker or adventurist. This is new, fresh and scary for me. Right now, I have controlled all I can. I’ve trained with my 38lb pack, my boots feel like slippers, and I have my bathing suit and cold-weather rain gear – both extremes. I even have emergency evacuation insurance. My family will be ok without me. It will certainly be interesting to share my “after” look – I won’t look like I’m in control at all – but you might see a new, fresh inner beauty shining through. It’ll be a surprise for all of us.