My Favourite Things From 2015

I resisted writing this post today for various reasons. Busyness. Fatigue. Repetition. Mainly, I wondered if these more personal reflections are better kept in a journal.

But, as usual, my keyboard called me back.

I have been doing a year-end review online for nearly ten years, in one form or another. And every time it forces me to sit down and count my blessings, to recount the moments that made me smile. I have also enjoyed reading the annual reflections that other people are posting and think it’s silly to keep these thoughts to yourself. Putting them out there helps to spread positivity in this world, and I think there can never be too much of that. 

I recently heard that it’s in being grateful that we find joy and not the other way around. So, call this year-end round-up my way of expressing gratitude for yet another year of memorable, sometimes miraculous, things. This is by no means a comprehensive list, but sometimes the ‘top-of-mind’ items stand out for a reason. In no particular order…

My Husband.

If you’re wondering who inspires me, it’s my husband, a guy who chases his dreams with relentless passion. Seriously. I don’t know anyone else who, among many other things, stays up all hours of the night waiting to shoot dramatic and innovative photos of the Northern Lights, plans photography workshops in his dream destinations like Greenland, keeps up with a massive social media community, and manages to find an amazing amount of time for his wife and daughter.

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Paul under The Milky Way over the mountains in Mount Assinboine Provincial Park, British Columbia.

My Dream Job.

A “dream” job does not imply that everything is easy. While it’s quite the opposite, I am grateful for the opportunity to use my skills in a meaningful way and sink my teeth into an exciting project. Many of you have already seen a bit of what Crowfoot Media is up to, but I can’t wait to release the first volume of the Canadian Rockies Annual, our beautiful print magazine (if you’d like to have it, order a copy!).

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This is a mock up. Yeah, we make you wait for the real thing. ;)

My Daughter.

This little rock star is growing up to be a beautiful human, inside and out, with the most vibrant and vivacious personality in 100-square-kilometre radius. She calls me to be my best self each and every day and opens my eyes to new ideas and possibilities I often overlook. I love her spirit and can’t wait to create some new memories with her in 2016.

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This Quilt.

My mother sewed this quilt for my daughter for Christmas this year. It makes me grateful for the family ties and the love that flows through the generations. I don’t take this lightly as I have a number of people in my life who don’t share in this privilege. So here’s my shout out to anyone who has (or is married to someone with) Ward or Moore blood running in their veins, including my parents, sisters, brothers-in-law and nephews.

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Our Trip to Belize.

It was an ‘easy’ trip by our standards, in that we didn’t rough it or explore as much as we usually do. But it was exactly what we needed. We learned the hard way that on previous trips we had pushed our little girl a bit too far past the limits of her temperament. (On that note, you can read about that in The Difference a Year Makes).

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Biking to The Split on Caye Caulker, Belize. iPhone snap by Paul Ziza.

My Business Partner. 

The very term feels a bit too stifled since I’m lucky my Crowfoot Media business partner and I work insanely well together and we get along! Dee Larosa (Medcalf) is one of the most talented designers I know (check out Phaneric.com), and I am eternally grateful for her attention to detail and self-motivation. Knowing we can lock ourselves up for hours on end for a work retreat or take off in the backcountry for four days and come out still talking is totally awesome!

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Me and Dee (left) and our volunteers at the Spindrift Sessions back in June. Photo by Kurtis Kristianson/Spindrift Photography.

Mountains!

It has been a long journey back to this point, and one I’ve written about in depth over on AdventurousParents.com. This past year, I went on three backcountry trips (to Lake O’Hara/Abbott Pass Hut, Skoki and Egypt Lakes) and climbed Mt. St. Nicholas, Mt. Cory, Mt. St. Piran, Fairview, Mt. Lawrence Grassi, Lesser Pharoah Peak, Cirque Peak, Wastach Peak (am I forgetting a bunch?). The best thing was I fell right back into my stride as if I’d never taken a break.

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Coming down from St. Nicholas Peak. Photo by Paul Zizka Photography.

 

And to complete the list…

I am grateful for my house, my friends (who shall go unnamed so that I don’t forget anybody!), my writing nook, the gym with the awesome views, cappuccinos, chocolate, hiking, biking with my little girl, yoga, skiing, Paw Patrol, gluten free baking,  Wild Women Magazine, Aventura Clothing, our Crowfoot Media contributors, the last light on Cascade Mountain, and everything else, even the ugly stuff that made me stronger.

Have a Happy New Year everyone!

My Journey Back into Magazine Publishing: Crowfoot Media

It was November, 2007. I had quit my job in the Rockies two months before but hung around Banff to attend that year’s Banff Mountain Film Festival. It was my first time at the festival, and the experience left me nearly shaking with excitement. These mountains are just dripping with juicy stories, tales of adventure, and incredible people who manage to stay under the radar.

On that day in November, I sat at Second Cup in Banff and wrote out the outline for a local magazine that would bring these stories to life. Soon thereafter, I moved back to Ontario for the winter. Upon my return to the Rockies the following spring, I got sidetracked by the challenges of making a living here, and didn’t pursue the magazine. I wish I still had that napkin covered in coffee stains and chicken scratch because that moment is imprinted vividly in my brain.

In the interim years since that rough magazine outline, I have had the privilege of working with a number of mountain culture publications and organizations. A few, in particular, stand out. Interning with Alpinist Magazine in 2010 was the turning point in my writing career. Contributing to Highline Magazine as a writer and editor for six years sharpened my tools, fostered meaningful relationships and exposed me to parts of this community I had never encountered before. Sitting on the Alpine Club of Canada’s Mountain Culture Committee has given me a window into the rich history of the club – one that deserves preservation through publications and other outlets.

Then I became a mother and my life as a freelance writer and editor took its turn on the back-burner. That was the way I wanted it. But, as my daughter grew up and gained more independence, I found myself growing a sense of independence, too. I felt myself wanting to return back to work. I also had this growing desire to go back behind the scenes of publishing. To be the publisher, not only the published.

As my time freed up to start working on a new project, I saw an opportunity to build a new mountain culture publication for the Canadian Rockies. This is where I wanted to dedicate my life’s work for the foreseeable future. And when the right partner came along (in this case, talented designer and brand strategist Dee Medcalf of Phaneric), the idea became reality.

That was seven months ago. And on March 16, 2015, we launched Crowfoot Media, a publishing house dedicated to the preservation, celebration and growth of mountain culture in the Canadian Rockies. We have a long road ahead, but the response so far has been uplifting and affirming. It feels right. I feel like I’m making my mark in the right place, at the right time, in the right way.

 

Crowfoot Media

 

I hope you’ll connect with us:

Thanks to everyone who has supported my journey to date. There are exciting things to come with Crowfoot Media – even if it’s scary at times to take on something as big as this.

Meghan

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. 

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:

Where We’ve Been, Where We’re Going

Looking over Cory Pass at Mt. Louis. Photo: Adam Zier-Vogel Photography.

Last week I went on a 14-kilometre hike with some friends around Mt. Edith via Cory Pass – in my opinion, one of the best day hikes in Banff National Park. Halfway, we hit Cory Pass and got an incredible view of Mt. Louis. I climbed the Kain route on Mt. Louis in 2011, in what feels like “my past life”. The trad climb took our party 24-hours of solid moving from base to summit to car. To that date, I had never pushed myself so hard. Only my ascent of Mt. Assiniboine comes close to the pride I felt in having reached the iron cross that stands at the top of Louis.

The next summer I was back at the pass with my sister and two months pregnant with Maya. My sister chose our lunch break at the pass to tell me she was expecting, too, and our babies arrived three weeks apart in Spring 2013.

Looking up at Mt. Louis on Friday I wondered if I would ever do a climb like that again. Or is my life drifting in another direction? There are some places on this planet that give us a chance to pause and reflect on where we’ve been, where we are, and where we’re going. Returning to the same location provides us with a baseline that we can use to gauge the changes we’ve been through and how we’ve evolved as people.

Which places on the planet act as your baseline?

 

Find Your Zen in the Canadian Rockies this September

Back into the grind after a summer of road trips, cottage time and holiday-ing? Here’s my latest piece for Avenue Magazine about finding Zen in the mountains. (You’ll have to head to the Canadian Rockies to take advantage of these ideas!)

Excerpt:

Autumn brings with it a change of colours and, more often than not, a mountain of stress. As summer vacations give way to the familiar juggling act, consider leaving the busyness behind to tap into what matters most.

If Zen is what you’re after, look no further than the Canadian Rockies, where these six activities will let you reflect, refocus and recharge.

Continue reading → “Fall Into Focus: September’s Best Ways to Find Zen in the Mountains.” 

Check out the September issue of Avenue Calgary.

Check out the September issue of Avenue Calgary.

Melting Glaciers and Changing Landscapes

sotm coverThe Athabasca Glacier has receded more than 1.5 kilometres and lost half its volume in the past 125 years. But what’s the story for the rest of the alpine environment in Western Canada? Check out my report published by the Alpine Club of Canada, which combines the voices of both scientists and mountaineers. It was published back in 2011, but the content is no less relevant.

The results in the report are downright unnerving. Comparative photographs reveal a quickly changing landscape. Anecdotes speak to increased rock fall and objective hazards for mountaineers. Scientists speak to a lack of funding, and other factors inhibiting their research on climate change. And while not all is lost, the report calls those who love the mountains into action and encourages us to think seriously about how our behaviour today influences the landscape of the future.

→ Read The State of the Mountains Report