A New Year on the Horizon: 3 Goals for 2015

Each year for me ends with a reflection on the previous twelve months, a review of last year’s goals, and goal-setting for the year to come. I can attribute much of my progress and evolution, particularly in my career, to clear goal-setting and revisiting my intentions often. I normally break these down into short, medium and long-term goals, but for the purposes of this post, I’ll keep it to the bigger picture. I recently included these in my newsletter with more of a backstory, if you’d like to read that, too.

Before I continue with my goals, I’d like to say thank you to my community, supportive readers, mentors and clients. It has been one of my more challenging years, but I feel so blessed with rich relationships – in work and in life. I also feel blessed with experiences, such as touring the South Pacific with my family, outdoor adventures, frequent publishing opportunities, and new ventures with my career. I am excited to tell you more about those ventures in the New Year. ;)

3 Goals for 2015

1. Focus less on the things I naturally do well.

I am not an extreme perfectionist, but I care about the quality of my work and often worry that it’s not good enough. I need to learn to trust in my experience and expertise, and focus instead on the areas I want to improve.

2. Commit to personal wellness.

If you’ve been following along closely, I’ve had a year of ups and downs on the health-front – physically, emotionally and psychologically. A good portion of that is due to self-neglect and poor priorities. My health and wellness needs to come first, and I need to arrange my schedule around that goal.

3. Seek counsel before I say Yes or No.

Often my default is to have a knee-jerk reaction. I say “Yes” without thinking. I have needed to train myself to pause and reflect, and request I take time to consider my options before committing to anything. This is one area where I could do even better. This year I want to seek counsel with my husband or another listening ear to discuss my options before I decide on any new commitments.

What are your goals for this upcoming year? I’d love for you to share them with me by simply replying in the comments. I always find it enlightening to know what others are working towards.

Goal setting helps me focus on what's really important in life. Photo by Paul Zizka.

Goal-setting helps me focus on what’s really important in life. Photo by Paul Zizka Photography.

All the best for 2015,

Meghan

Take a Moment for “Wanderment” by Doug Urquhart

From the maker of Mountains in Motion and Eye of the Beholder, Doug Urquhart’s latest masterpiece is Wanderment (chosen today as a Vimeo Staff Pick!). Having worked with Doug before I know first-hand just how much of a genius he is with his craft, and how humble he is about it. Wanderment demonstrates his artistry and eye for detail, his passion for the wilderness, and desire to bring that beauty to others.

Take five minutes and watch the video below.

Synopsis

Best Viewed in Full Screen (with scaling turned off)

From meandering streams and forest-dwelling organisms to the grandeur of high mountains above tree-line, this short film wanders through the contrasting wilderness of Alaska, North Carolina, Georgia and California.

WANDERMENT is the result of a 12-month collection of 4K time-lapse sequences captured while backpacking. Countless miles of hiking in the Appalachian Mountains and adventurous backpacking in California and Alaska provided no shortage of opportunity to capture the planet’s poetry in motion. Further juxtaposing these contrasting landscapes is the use of both color and black and white techniques throughout the film. Each time-lapse sequence, comprised of hundreds of still images, represents a chance to share these reflective moments far away from urban epicenters. It offers a simple reminder to step outside with your friends and family to experience and respect nature first-hand.

WANDERMENT from The Upthink Lab on Vimeo.

On the Hunt for Aurora Borealis with Paul Zizka

Feature photo from Travel Alberta Winter Magazine 2014-2015. Photo by Paul Zizka.

It is not every day that you get assigned a story you’ve been dying to write, and even less likely to be asked to write about a person very close to you. So, I was ecstatic when Travel Alberta approached me about writing a story about my husband, Paul Zizka, and his quest to chase the Northern Lights here in the Canadian Rockies. Having the insider’s perspective on this crazy chase, especially during the solar maximum in 2013, I could have written a lot more about life at home, and how it intermingles with aurora forecasts, solar flares and Paul’s incredible ambition to capture the dancing lights. But I left myself out of the story, and talked purely about Paul’s efforts to photograph the aurora borealis, and the resources he uses to track the likelihood of their appearance.

It was a cool night on May 31, 2013, when professional photographer Paul Zizka left his home in Banff to drive to Herbert Lake, a small body of water along the world-famous Icefields Parkway in Banff National Park. Eagerly, he glanced upwards through the windshield, checking the skies at regular intervals. All forecasts predicted the aurora borealis, aka the northern lights, would put on a show – perhaps the best one of the year. “I knew I was on the verge of what could be one of the greatest photo ops I had ever encountered,” Paul explained.  → Read the rest of the article, starting on Page 30 here. 

Valley Uprising Wins 2014 Banff Mountain Film Competition Grand Prize

Content courtesy The Banff Centre.

The greatest untold story of American counterculture is that of the Yosemite Valley rock climbers. For 50 years, Yosemite’s cliffs have drawn explorers to venture on the high, lonesome granite. Climbing greats like Royal Robbins, Yvon Chouinard and Tom Frost not only set new standards for climbing hard routes, they pioneered the “dirtbag” lifestyle. Part fact and part attitude, Sender Films takes us on a journey through the history of Yosemite right up to the present and shows why the big walls of this amazing place are still as coveted today as they were 50 years ago. Valley Uprising has won the Grand Prize at the 2014 Banff Mountain Film and Book Festival.

“The mountain culture in which so many of us here are a part of; we are pretty good at telling our stories to each other,” said 2014 jury member Nicolas Brown. “We watch some sick action— and get totally stoked. However, sometimes we are less effective telling our stories to the rest of the world. This film tells an epic tale, giving us larger than life characters whose lives play out on a vast stage. The result is a work that will inspire not just climbers but the world at large.”

Created 39 years ago, the Banff Mountain Film and Book Festival has become the premier event of its kind in the world. The Festival showcases the world’s best films, books, and photographs on mountain subjects – climbing, culture, environment, exploration and adventure, and sport – and attracts the biggest names in mountaineering, adventure filmmaking, and extreme sports as presenters and speakers. 84 films were screened during the nine-day festival and an international jury awarded more than $50,000 in cash and prizes in 13 categories.

Category winners for the 2014 Banff Mountain Film Competition include:

Grand Prize—Sponsored by MEC

Valley Uprising
Director: Nick Rosen, Peter Mortimer, Josh Lowell
Producer: Zachary Barr
Production Company: Sender Films

Creative Excellence Award- Sponsored by SOLE

El Sendero Luminoso Director: Renan Ozturk
Producer: Aimee Tetreault
Production Company: Camp4 Collective

Best Film – Exploration and Adventure – Sponsored by MSR

And Then We Swam Director: Ben Finney
Producer: Robb Ellender

Best Film – Mountain Culture Sponsored by Helly Hansen

Tashi & the Monk
Director: Andrew Hinton, Johnny Burke
Production Company: Pilgrim Films

Best Film – Climbing Sponsored by the Alpine Club of Canada

Cerro Torre: A Snowball’s Chance in Hell Director: Thomas Dirnhofer Producer: Philipp Manderla*
Production Company: Red Bull Media House GmbH

Best Film – Mountain Sports- Sponsored by Live Out There

Little Red Bus (Petit Bus Rouge)
Director and Producer: Sébastien Montaz-Rosset
Production Company: Montaz-Rosset Film

Best Film: Snow Sports – Sponsored by Oboz Footwear

The Crash Reel
Director: Lucy  Walker
Producer: Julian Cautherley
Production Company: KP Rides Again LLC

Best Film – Mountain Environment and Natural History – Sponsored by Film Festival Flix

NATURE: Touching the Wild

Director and Producer: David Allen
Production Company: Passion Planet, THIRTEEN Productions LLC for WNET

Best Short Mountain Film – Sponsored by The North Face

Delta Dawn
Director and Producer: Peter McBride
Production Company: Peter McBride Productions

Best Feature Length Mountain Film – Sponsored by the Town of Banff

Marmato

Director: Mark Grieco
Producer: Stuart Reid
Production Company: Calle Films

Special Jury Mention

Jungwa: The Broken Balance

Director: Stanzin Dorjai Gya, Christiane Mordelet
Producer: Barra Muriel
Production Company: Lato Sensu Productions

People’s Choice Award for Radical Reels – Sponsored by Deuter

Sufferfest 2: Desert Alpine

Director and Producer: Cedar Wright*

People’s Choice Award – Sponsored by Treksta

Mending the Line Director Steve Engman, Producer John Waller. Production Company: Uncage the Soul Productions.

Jury members in 2014 included Swiss journalist and producer Benoît Aymon, multiple award-winning producer and director Nicolas Brown, former Programming Director for the Banff Mountain Film and Book Festival Joni Cooper,  American alpinist Mark Synnott and Shirley Vercruysse, Executive Producer of the National Film Board of Canada.

The Banff Mountain Film and Book Festival is presented by National Geographic and The North Face, and sponsored by Deuter, Bergans of Norway, Clif Bar, Cushe Footwear, Icebreaker Merino and Banff Lake Louise Tourism with support from Mammut, MSR/Mountain Safety Research, PETZL, World Expeditions, Kicking Horse Coffee, The Lake Louise Ski Resort, MEC, and the Alberta Foundation for the Arts.

Finding Inspiration at the Banff Mountain Book Festival

Considering the quantity of sold out events this year at the Banff Mountain Book Festival, I think it’s safe to say that it is no longer a best-kept secret, and no longer the ‘little sister’ to the Banff Mountain Film Festival. On a more personal note, the book festival has always been my favourite part of the festivals – not only because it offers a more intimate experience, but also because words are my medium of choice, the way I process information, my lifeline.

As a writer, the Banff Mountain Book Festival encourages me to dig deeper, to find the story really worth telling and to continue sharpening my skills so that perhaps one year it will be me up on that stage presenting my own book. But for now I’m content to learn from others, to absorb from a seat in the audience, and bring the stories of others to you.

I can’t recap the entire book festival, but the events today offered a particularly good mix of topics and styles. They also brought with them lessons we can apply to our own lives, which I’ll summarize here:

The Calling.Barry Blanchard kicked off the with the presentation of his book, The Calling: A Life Rocked by Mountains. I was familiar with his book, having reviewed it for The Campsite a few weeks ago, but it was refreshing to hear him reading his own words. In fact, the book read better aloud than it did in my head, and listening to Barry gave the stories new life and the audience an opportunity to laugh. It is clear the crowd – a home crowd for Barry – simply loves this man, and that spoke as loud as his words. One thing I learned from Barry, both through his climbing stories and his account of challenges writing the book, is the importance of perseverance. If you eventually want to see something in print, you need to work away at it, letter by letter, word by word.

Paddlenorth.Next, author Jennifer Kingsley presented her book, Paddlenorth – an account of a 54-day, 1100-kilometre journey she made with friends on the Baillie and Back Rivers in Nunavut. While she didn’t intend to write a book about the trip, the experience motivated her to do so. She didn’t reveal too much about her book (I’ll have to read it!), however a few things she said caught my attention. First, she made a comment about how modern travel allows you to get from one destination to another very quickly, but that does not mean that you have caught up emotionally and psychologically. This also ties into a comment she made about returning home from such a voyage: “This is the kind of trip that when I got home, it wouldn’t lie down,” she said. Having been on a few longer stints of travel, I can relate to both of these comments – to needing time to catch up to my destination and needing time to unravel the threads of the experience once I’m home.

Great Bear Wild.Finally, photographer, conservationist, and author of Great Bear Wild, Ian McAllister, took the stand. I was familiar with McAllister’s incredible photographs, just not the stories behind them. Walking the audience through the backstories of his images, McAllister conveyed a deeper understanding of these magnificent creatures. By explaining their contexts through human analogies, I could relate to the wildlife in a way I never had before. I appreciated these stories because these are the creatures and habitats (alongside First Nations communities) under threat due to the plans to build the Northern Gateway Pipeline. Through McAllister I learned that the Great Bear Rainforest is actually an area that is seeing regeneration and a resurgence of life. It would be a shame to see that compromised. Be sure to check out PacificWild.org for more information on what you can do about that.

The festival doesn’t wrap up until Sunday night, so be sure to check out the Banff Mountain Festivals to snag any remaining tickets.

Keep following along on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for dispatches from the field!

Special Announcement: The Campsite Finds New Owners

Back in January 2011 I had a vision: to create an online community that would facilitate discussion about the outdoor lifestyle and the inner journeys we experience there. To give budding writers, or those wanting to hone their skills, a home for their words. To network with the outdoor industry – from longstanding gear companies to grassroots campaigns. To feature high-quality, curated content that would distinguish this outdoor website from a field saturated with outdoor blogs.

Nearly four years later, The Campsite has become just that. It has a loyal community of readers and it has explored the outdoor journey in various forms. It continues to produce highly curated content, and has supported many writers, photographers, organizations and companies along the way. It has nurtured an impressive network. And, finally, in 2014 it was noted for its quality content with a nomination for USA Today/10 Best Readers’ Choice Award for Favourite Hiking and Outdoors Travel Blog – landing in the top ten.

But like many things in life, The Campsite needed new wings to let it evolve. Being a freelance writer, a full-time mom, and a woman with many passion projects, I wanted to see The Campsite thrive, but knew that I would not be the person to take it there. I considered shutting it down, then thought I could bring on someone to help keep it going while I figured out my next steps (thank Helena Artmann for being such an amazing team member!).

The Campsite.

The Campsite.

The Sale

About one month ago, I decided I would list The Campsite for sale using freemarket.com. I used a few websites to get a sense of its value, and took the bold leap to find it new owners. I had no idea what to expect. I had never built and sold a website before. After a quiet first few days, with the odd spark of interest, I got a phone call from a local acquaintance showing a bit more sincerity about taking over The Campsite. After a flurry of text messages, she and her partner were well on their way to putting together an offer for me. I knew instantly that these were the women meant to take over my beloved website. For me, it was about finding the right people to take over and I couldn’t believe these two women had pulled through. To find two other Canadian Rockies souls was a big bonus.

So, I’d like to introduce you to The Campsite‘s new owners as of 2015: Alannah Jensen and Jen Whalen. Alannah, of Lannie Rae Gourmet, and Jen, of Mountain Bound Photography, are teaming up to bring you the next iteration of this outdoor lifestyle blog! They are stoked, to say the least, and I’m equally excited that The Campsite will have the power of these two women behind it. We’ll be sure to give you a proper introduction to these women in the weeks to come.

Of course, I’m a bit sad. It is hard to let go of something you love so much, of something you built and nurtured. But we must let go of things in order to make space for new opportunities. And that’s where my life is leading me right now.

Jen and Alannah, I wish you all the best! And thanks to all of you for your loyal support. You taking the time to read my articles makes it easier to do what I do each day.

Keep Following The Campsite

Sculpted in Time: Sherpas Cinema Release Latest Film

With material from Banff Lake Louise Tourism. 

They brought you Into the Mind and All.I.Can. Now Sherpas Cinema has created four dramatic short films capturing the deep spirit of skiing straight from the heart of the Canadian RockiesThe series, entitled ‘Sculpted in Time’ reveals a new dimension to the significance of ski culture in Banff and Lake Louise – depicted in spectacular high-definition footage.

Sculpted in Time is a compelling portrayal of unique stories shot in documentary form and edited in Sherpas Cinema’s renowned storytelling style. Featuring extreme slow motion, long term time lapse, a pensive score and emotive narrative throughout, the series focuses on the personal transformations of local ski legends – each with character as strong as the mountain landscape of Banff National Park. The films were shot on location during 30 rigorous days, across the park’s three ski areas. The series presents stimulating perspectives on:

  • Mt. Norquay [The Wise Man, featuring long-term Banff local, Eddie Hunter]
  • Lake Louise Ski Resort [The Character, featuring skier Eric Hjorleifson]
  • Sunshine Village [The Artist, featuring artist Dan Hudson]
  • A deep dive into its backcountry terrain [The Innovator, featuring local Paralympian Christian Bagg, as well as Chris Rubens and Eric Hjorleifson].

“To have the opportunity to complete a project like this in the Canadian Rockies was a dream come true for us”, says Malcolm Sangster, Sherpas Cinema. “The Sherpas founders, including myself, Dave Mossop and Eric Crosland, all grew up together in Calgary and it was these very hills where we cut our teeth – both as skiers and filmmakers. The peaks of Banff National Park have truly had an everlasting positive impact on our personal lives and careers, their beauty and grandeur instills a sense of awe, humbleness and respect in everyone that lays eyes on them.”

Follow the ‘Sculpted in Time’ four-part film series at: SkiBanffNationalPark.com. #SculptedinTime  #MyBanff

Catch the trailer here: