Hiking - Story

Katie Levy: Influencing the World to Conquer the Summits!

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How often do you encounter people who are religiously passionate for exploring different horizons and are willing to share their passion with the world! Well very few chase their passion and make it their life and soul. And trust us the satisfaction that you procure from chasing for your passion is surreal! So let’s get on this passion chasing trip with an inspiring person who has dreams in her eyes and watches them turn into reality! For the #iamlivingit series, we connected with Katie Levy, an adventure buff who is also a professional hiker and adores outdoor activites!

With the desire to push the boundaries, explore the world in her style Katie started rendezvous with the nature at a young age. Ever since then she has been in the wild and even shares her incredible experience with her avid readers on her blog Adventure Inspired. Let’s take you on this adventure filled ride with Katie where she shares her trekking fitness plan, her challenging experience at Mount Rainier Summit and yes! her motivating advice for budding trekkers!

Livingit: You are an avid backpacker, ice skierswimmer basically an adventure buff! Tell us something more about yourself.
Katie Levy:
I'm a Philadelphia-based outdoor addict with a passion for playing outside and sharing that passion with others. I grew up in beautiful Ithaca, New York, a town with gorges and waterfalls aplenty, all playing a part in kindling a wonderful relationship with the outdoors at a young age. After 13 years as a competitive swimmer, I followed my outdoor passions along trails all over North America, including the Adirondacks, Catskills, Canadian Rockies, and some of our continent's most incredible national parks. As a weekend warrior, longer trips can be tough sometimes! I focus on making time for outdoor exploration in some of the beautiful places in my own Pennsylvania backyard, which helped solidify my passion for testing my limits outdoors. Now, through my website, Adventure-Inspired, I hope to share my passion for playing outside with anyone willing to listen, and anyone who enjoys telling stories around a campfire as much as I do.

Livingit: What was the motivation factor behind Hiking/Trekking? When did you start? Tell us about your 1st experience?
Katie Levy: 
Honestly, I can't remember when I started spending time outdoors because it's been a part of my life for so long! I've always been happier and felt more like myself when I'm outdoors, and love the way being in the wilderness challenges me. I do remember one of my first wilderness backpacking experiences, mostly because as is often the case with beginners, I made a bunch of mistakes! Early on in my backpacking career, my fiance and I planned to tackle the 71-mile Massanutten Trail, a National Recreation Trail located in the George Washington National Forest in Virginia. I was battling knee issues as a result of running too much too fast after closing out my college swimming career in 2006, but I was so looking forward to the trip that no amount of pain was going to stop me. We had trouble finding a place to park our car, left the trail map in the trunk, brought too much with us to move quickly, and got caught in an early spring snowstorm. We ended up ending the trip early, but I learned a lot of valuable lessons!

Livingit: Outdoor activities can be challenging. So did you have a mentor and how did it help?
Katie Levy: 
As I've learned and grown in my outdoor pursuits, I've looked at a number of different sources for help depending on the activity. Though I don't remember having a specific mentor, I've certainly relied on many others more experienced than I am for help and advice. The outdoor communities I've been fortunate to be a part of have been full of people willing to share their passions and experience with me. I joined an outdoor club when I moved to Philadelphia and met people who helped me learn about the local trails. I joined a climbing gym and tried to spend as much time with experienced climbers as I could to learn.  

As I went on more and more backpacking trips, I learned from my mistakes, researched information using guidebooks, and now that blogging and trip reporting is so ubiquitous, I can learn so much just by reading what others have to say! It's so helpful to have information available from others who've done the trips I want to do before me, and I'm grateful to those who take the time to share their experiences. It's also a big part of why I started my blog - to share information and tips I've learned with others because that's been so valuable to me!

Livingit: Which is your favorite style of trekking- solo or with friends? How different are the two types of experiences?
Katie Levy: 
I generally prefer to hike with my fiance or a small group because I love sharing my experiences with others. It's not as much fun to me to see something incredible, or experience something beautiful, and not have anyone there to share it with! But I absolutely appreciate and advocate for spending some time on your own on the trails, provided you've taken proper precautions. There's something wonderful about being self-sufficient enough to go out on your own. I find the two experiences very different, and both valuable, but generally, prefer to have other people to share trips with.

Livingit: There are various trekking clubs that cater the needs of a trekker. So are you a part of any trekking club, if yes then how has it helped you? What was your experience in trekking with Groups?
Katie Levy: 
The only real group I've been a part of in my outdoor career has been a local adventure club in Philadelphia. I found them through the website meetup.com, and it was a huge help in moving to a new place and meeting like-minded people. I climbed Mount Rainier in 2011 as part of an all-women's team raising money for Big City Mountaineers, a non-profit dedicated to helping urban teens get outdoors, and met some incredible people through that experience I still keep in touch with today. In general, though, I prefer to go on trips, especially backcountry trips, with people I've met and have experience with.

Livingit: Let's now move to the essential part of your trekking- the gears! Could you share about your gear collection and your favorite brands? Also, could you tell us which items are a must during trekking?
Katie Levy:
I could go on about gear for days! Depending on the piece of gear, I definitely have favorites, and I wrote a piece about things I won't go camping or backpacking without. In general, my favorite brands for backpacks are Osprey and Gregory. The products are well-designed and last forever! When it comes to clothing, I'm tall, so companies that make pants with longer inseams like Mountain Hardwear are among my favorites. I also have at least five pairs of the same Lululemon shorts I wear for hiking, running, and to the gym. For tops and jackets, I'm partial to Outdoor Research and Columbia. The majority of my jackets for all seasons are from one of those two brands!

Livingit: Fitness is a top priority for every trekker so how do you stay fit/train for your treks? What's your training plan?
Katie Levy
I don't have a training plan for hiking or backpacking, and instead, just try to stay as fit as possible! I generally feel better when I'm in shape, so I make things like weightlifting and cardiovascular activity a part of my day. I was a competitive swimmer for 13 years, then competed in CrossFit for 5 years. I currently lift weights 4-5 days a week and sprinkle in CrossFit workouts and trail running to keep up my cardiovascular fitness. Weightlifting has been a huge help when it comes to being able to balance with a heavy pack and power up hills. I also really enjoy being strong!

Livingit: What is one of the craziest treks you’ve embarked on? Could you elaborate a bit?
Katie Levy:
I climbed Mount Rainier in 2011 to support an organization with a mission to help urban teenagers have transformative outdoor experiences - Big City Mountaineers. It wasn't necessarily crazy, but it was by far the toughest trip I'd been on up until that point, both physically and mentally. I didn't have mountaineering skills, but we worked with a local guiding company, RMI Expeditions, and that made a huge difference. I'd also never been on a glacier before or done any technical travel for that amount of time. But it was an absolutely incredible experience, especially knowing the climb was going to make a difference in others' lives!

Livingit: What was one of your worst experiences while trekking and how did you overcome it?
Katie Levy:
On a trip to the Adirondacks in Upstate New York, I'd joined a group of people I didn't know well, with the exception of my fiance, and we set our sights on a long and challenging hike up New York State's highest mountain in early spring. The weather turned on us partway up, and we battled strong winds and rain, making the hiking tougher than anticipated. There was still snow on the trail, which is common in early spring in the Adirondacks, but it slowed us down and the hike too longer than we'd planned. After we finally made it back to camp, we discovered our tent sprung a leak, and we ended up sleeping in a puddle! Overall, we overcame the obstacles with some perseverance and creative thinking, but part of hiking and backpacking is being prepared.

Livingit: How do you deal with unpredictable factors such as the weather while trekking?
Katie Levy:
The best way to deal with weather is to prepare as much as possible. I'll always check the forecast before I go, making sure the conditions won't be unsafe, and if they are, I'll consider changing plans.

Livingit: How do you plan for your trekking trips in terms of overnight stay, finances, route?
Katie Levy:
Generally, I approach planning for trips by preparing as best I can! Sometimes, getting to a location can be pricey, but once I'm there if I'm hiking or camping, that makes it significantly cheaper with respect to overnight stays and food. So, for example, I'd be more inclined to pay more for a flight if I know when I arrive, all I'll have to worry about is groceries and campsite fees as applicable. In some cases, I'm willing to splurge on overnight accommodations if the general travel costs are low. Overall, as is the case with anything in life, it's all about balance!

Livingit: List out your 5 essential to pack while trekking.
Katie Levy:
Aside from the true essentials, like first aid, food, and water, there are a few things I definitely won't go hiking without! First, my camera. I love documenting the trips I take, things I see, and more. Second, I always have layers with me, especially if I'm expecting inclement weather. The right clothing can make a huge difference in comfort and with respect to safety. Third, I'll always take plenty of snacks! I'll take a bag of trail mix I make myself using some of my favorite nuts, berries, and chocolate. I'm also a sucker for the basic peanut butter and jelly sandwich! Fourth, I won't leave for a hike without skin and lip protection, like sunscreen and lip balm. I've been caught without one too many occasions, and it's not good! Finally, a good pair of shoes is absolutely essential for me. The last thing I want to worry about is blisters or discomfort. I could go on about more things I don't leave home without, but those five are super important!

Livingit: Share your words of wisdom for the budding hiker.
Katie Levy
: Don't be afraid to start! Trying new things can be intimidating, but one of my favorite things about the outdoor community is its willingness to share knowledge. Look for people who can help you learn, and don't be worried about admitting you have a lot to learn when you get started; we all did and do! You can get yourself in trouble with what you don't know in outdoor pursuits, but don't let that intimidate you.

Livingit: We would love to know what places are next on your bucket list?
Katie Levy: 
Oh my goodness, so many places! At the top of the list? Iceland, Patagonia, Norway, and New Zealand.

We hope that we have inspired the budding trekkers who are looking forward to venturing out! As Katie says, “Don’t be afraid to start”. Motivate yourself to explore the beautiful world ahead. The majestic mountains and terrains are welcoming; one trip outdoors and you are bound to see the world in a whole new way!

Stop Existing and Start Livingit!

"We need the tonic of wilderness. We can never have enough of nature"- Henry David Thoreau

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