4 Reasons Stacey Trunnell Booked a Wellness Retreat
Surrender & Adventure in Jackson Hole
By Stacey Trunnell
In June 2021, I embarked on my second trip and wellness retreat with Women’s Quest. After coming home from Vermont in 2020, inspired by the strong women I’d met, new activities I’d learned, and fresh self-discoveries I’d made, I was sure I’d be back with founder, Colleen Cannon, sometime in the not-too-distant future.
Then came the Jackson Hole opportunity.
I wasn’t sure if this would be the trip for me since the main activity was hiking and I didn’t have much experience. (Then again, I was new to mountain biking and loved doing that in Vermont.)
Since I’d made a vision board with “NATIONAL PARKS” pasted on it in big letters though, I was intrigued. After seeing beautiful Instagram posts from last year’s Jackson retreat and reading about the potential schedule on WomensQuest.com, I decided I had to take the chance. The Grand Tetons looked majestic and I resonated with the copy staring back at me that read, “do something for yourself today.” Plus, hiking is just walking, right?
Whether you’re an athlete like Colleen or simply choosing to stay active for health reasons—like myself; if you have an adventurous spirit, feel called to explore, or want to shake up your perspective; if you find strength in connecting with women from all walks of life who seek some form of life-long learning, consider Women’s Quest for your next vacation. Maybe you’ll find—as I have—it’s the best investment you can make in yourself.
Reasons I Booked a Women’s Quest Wellness Retreat
#1: To take a trip—just for me.
I love trips with my significant other, kids, parents, siblings, in-laws, and friends, but it feels different to embark on a journey that’s just for me, which is something I rarely (if ever) do. On Women’s Quest wellness retreats, many ladies come solo—though some bring friends, their mother/daughter, or partners—and we all have specific and deeply personal motivations for being there which are uncovered throughout the week. One of my favorite Women’s Quest activities that really highlights this emphasis on individualization is “word of the day,” where each person goes around the circle to sum up what they’re feeling and experiencing. There are no wrong answers and no explanations needed—though sometimes given. Authentic self-expression is welcome and likely inevitable after hours of pushing ourselves to new heights—literally. It feels liberating and empowering to embark on such a journey, knowing that there are no expectations to tend to anyone besides me.
#2. To connect with other women adventurers.
The group of ~20 women is given an itinerary before the trip, so we know we’ll be adventuring together through mountains, lakes, rivers, and towns together. However, something truly magical happens as these spectacular sights become the backdrop for something grander: genuine, deep human connection. On the Jackson trip, I became close with women 20- and sometimes 40-years my senior! And though my age might have been obvious (I look ten years younger than I am—thanks Mom and Dad!), I felt our minds, bodies, and spirits were in sync—connected in our curiosity and openness. From different places and life experiences, we all seemed to be seeking some sort of perspective we couldn’t get from staying at home.
#3. To see something new in a structured format.
How shall I count the “new” things I got to see thanks to Women’s Quest? The physical places I’ve never been—Jackson Hole and Grand Teton National Park. Perhaps the activities I’d never done before? Hiking 11 miles—at elevation!, white water rafting, bathing in a healing sound ceremony. It’s difficult to count these new and eye-opening experiences that were unique to the Women’s Quest Jackson Hole Retreat because there were too many variables that went into making them unique. Had I gone to Jackson Hole myself, I might have gone out to bars and restaurants and planned very early when I’d go to the national park(s). But because Colleen taps local experts when she plans trips, 1) the guesswork is out of it, which is great because I’m busy planning when I’m at home and don’t really want to do it on my vacation and 2) we get to go off the beaten path with people who know the land and the community. One of my favorite parts of this trip was eating locally sourced produce-dense meals outside each night—be it in an open space under the Grand Tetons or at a campsite. One evening we were even invited to a private ranch within the National Elk Refuge, which was so intimate and wholesome, it really couldn’t be replicated or commercialized. While structured to set our expectations, I can say with full confidence that the entire wellness retreat experience felt serendipitous.
#4. To fill my cup.
There is something about adventuring in nature that is regenerative, and Colleen Cannon obviously knows that. Leaving my 9-5 desk job behind, I came on this trip with both optimism and trepidation. Will the other ladies like me? Am I tough enough to be here? To say I took a risk in leaving my comfort zone would be accurate. And yet, how can any of us reach our potential without exploring the unknown? Taking the opportunity to see the majesty of the Grand Tetons—something each of us were in awe of—just did something for the soul. By silencing the news and notifications, our eyes were opened to the healing power of Mother Nature. On top of that, the support we felt from each other was palpable. No one person can be strong all of the time. I witnessed—and experienced myself—a letting go—a surrendering that was met with empathy, understanding, and kindness. My favorite example of this was when one retreat goer was conflicted about jumping off a cliff into Phelps Lake, a 20-foot drop. Her heart was lingering on the opportunity, but her mind was telling her she couldn’t do it. She even said to her supporters, “I can’t.” And yet, she dug deep—perhaps hearing someone shout, “we’ve got your back!” then hurled herself off into the lake below. Upon coming up for air, she was greeted with cheers so loud they must have traveled for miles. A smile appeared on her face and I heard the words “I’m so glad I did it” emerge from her mouth. The risk is worth the reward.
I’d be remiss if I didn’t include the fact that—as transformative as this trip felt for me personally—it was also extremely fun. Yes, I did shed a few tears because the magnitude of human experience overwhelms me with emotion. I’m a sentimental person! Moreover, I’m just in awe of the women I got to meet in Jackson. I laughed so much with them during this retreat. There was simply so much joy! I have to credit Colleen, our local experts Julie and Sydney, as well as all my wellness retreat companions for cultivating such light-heartedness throughout the entire trip. My cup is full with those moments of harmonious levity. I am grateful for the opportunity to know you and share this beautiful memory with you all. May we never forget what we did and who we became due to Women’s Quest. <3