6 Highlights of 2016

Each year I do a round-up of some kind, whether it’s things that I’m grateful for or how my previous year’s goals panned out. For this year, my knee-jerk reaction was I don’t have time to write one, and I don’t, but that’s exactly the problem. These are the things I need to make time for so that life doesn’t feel so frantic. These are the things that keep me grounded. So, this year I’m keeping it simple and highlighting six things from 2016 – the good, the not so good, and the awesome.


Back in 2014, my business partner and I sat down and dreamt up a new kind of mountain culture publication for the Canadian Rockies In May 2016, those dreams became a reality when Volume 1 of the Canadian Rockies Annual hit the shelves!  Thanks to everyone who purchased and subscribed – we are down to our last few copies. Volume 1 is still available for ordering (and pre-orders for Volume 2 are now open!) Thanks to Doug Urquhart at UpThink Lab for this awesome promo video.


Photo by Paul Zizka Photography.

Photo by Paul Zizka Photography.

This year’s family trip back in March took us to The Big Island, where we enjoyed beach time, cool volcanic features, amazing coffee (a must) and time with Grammy. As I do with all our family adventures, I wrote an article over on AdventurousParents.com: Family Travel – A Short Guide to Hawai’i, The Big Island. Up next? Bermuda.


Photo by Meghan J. Ward.

Photo by Meghan J. Ward.

What would a summer be without some awesome outdoor adventures? This one was definitely a highlight for many reasons: a great crew, new terrain, awesome weather and some good old time alone in the backcountry. I highly recommend a trip into Berg Lake for any intermediate/advanced hikers!

4. Saying Goodbye


This year I said goodbye to the last of my grandparents, my father’s mother, Maxine (here she is with grandpa Bill, who left us about 15 years ago). I was in the midst of finishing the magazine when she passed away, and the whole experience, including the memorial in Winnipeg in June seems to have whizzed by. But, these days I’m remembering her and missing her. She was an incredible person.



I feel so incredibly blessed to work with a team of creatives who strive to help others on their own creative journeys. This year my husband Paul Zizka and our friend/colleague Dave Brosha teamed up to launch OFFBEAT, a new online photo community and international photography workshops company. Through the process, I also got to meet our project manager, Camila – a woman pretty much cut from the same cloth. Be sure to tell the photographers in your life to check out OFFBEAT!

6. YOU WOn’t remember this

Photo by Paul Zizka Photography.

Taken on the Redearth Creek trail on the way home from Shadow Lake Lodge, 2015. Photo by Paul Zizka Photography.

Last month I got a few hard copies of a new anthology I wrote for called You Won’t Remember ThisIt is my first official book authorship! With four tourist books in the works this year, and plenty of ideas down the pipeline, I feel like I’m finally embarking on my ultimate goal which is to work more in the book world. Thanks to Sandy for the opportunity to be part of her book!

Happy New Year, everybody!

All good things,


The Real Things a Girl Thinks About on a Hike

Like many people who read “12 Things a Girl is Probably Thinking About on a Hike“, I was left feeling quite disturbed by the shallowness of the piece. I immediately started pondering how I’d rewrite it. A friend of mine and fellow writer, Tera Swanson, beat me to it, and did such a bang-on job, I thought I’d reblog it for you here. It is beautifully written, and one of Tera’s best pieces to date (in my opinion!). Enjoy!

Originally posted on The Wander Journals:

By Tera Swanson

After recently reading an article a friend had shared with me regarding “what girls probably think about on a hike,” it opened some conversation with the women in my life who enjoy the outdoors as to what we did or didn’t relate to, how it portrayed outdoor women, and what our motivations were for getting out there. Turns out that yes, you can care how your hair looks and enjoy hiking too. Or not care. That is also ok.

Hence, I’ve compiled my own 12 thoughts and traits of “girls who hike” that I’ve gathered from these conversations and my own contemplations – let me know whether or not you agree!

1) We check in with our hiking partners. How is everyone doing? What are our group’s strengths and weaknesses, as individuals and as a whole? Sometimes we need a little push to overcome things that seem a lot scarier than they really are. Sometimes we need to pay close attention to our partners when they are becoming more and more anxious, but won’t make the call to pull out. And sometimes we explore with people who are way overconfident in their abilities. It’s important to check in with others, as well as make note of your own thought process and comfort levels.

Read the rest of the article on The Wander Journals.

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?


Top 10 Posts of 2010

Turning the corner on a new year always causes me to look back at the previous one. For this year, I decided to take a look at the stats from this website and take a look at which posts got the most ‘clicks’ in 2010. So, for your reviewing pleasure, here is the Top 10.

1. Destination Review: Casa Zen in Santa Teresa, Costa Rica

A short overview of one of my favourite spots on the Nicoya Peninsula in Costa Rica.

2. Publications

A select list of my publications.

3. Banff’s New FEAST

An introduction to Banff’s new artisan grocer.

4. Ski Touring to Lake O’Hara and McArthur Pass

Turns out a lot of my website hits come from people searching for beta about ski touring, hiking and climbing in the Rockies. Here’s one example.

5. Hiking Clearwater Pass and Lake O’Hara

Trip reports from these destinations.

6. Best Spots for Ice Skating in Banff National Park

A little guide to natural outdoor skating rinks in Banff National Park.

7. Alpine Ski Tour: Peyto Hut and Wapta Icefield

A short description of some of my favourite places to visit on skis (or boots in summertime).

8. Education, Experience, and Development

A little bit more about me…

9. Ski Tour at Bow Summit

One of the most popular ski touring destinations in Banff National Park. Great if you’re just starting out.

10. Who is Yahe-Weha?

The answer to my most popular question. With a Twitter name like yaheweha, I’ve always got people wondering.

Enjoy! And here’s to more great posts and visits in 2011.

© Meghan J. Ward, 2011.



Little Mountain, Big Cause

Years ago, I heard Stephen Lewis speak at Queen’s University in my first year there. He was speaking about the war on Iraq at the time, but being Stephen Lewis, couldn’t help himself from mentioning how many billions of dollars the US had just put into their way and how many billions of dollars they took away from their original pledge to help turn the tide of AIDS. It was after this point in his speech that Lewis introduced the sold out audience to his “little foundation,” The Stephen Lewis Foundation (SLF). That night I went home and looked up the foundation’s website and have been a supporter ever since. If anyone knows me, they’ll know now that every year I dedicate a bit of my time, a bit of my own money and at times, some web space, to promoting this little foundation and raising awareness and funds for HIV-related issues in Africa.

Last year, the SLF started a new campaign leading up to World AIDS Day on December 1st called A Dare to Remember. With this new campaign, they dared ordinary Canadians to take on a challenge – any challenge – and raised funds to do it. Dares ranged from portaging a canoe through Toronto to writing and performing standup comedy. I chose to do 100 Sun Salutations for the cause.

This year, I wanted to dare my community in Banff to take on a dare as well. So I challenged them to hike Tunnel Mountain, a small mountain of about 790 feet, as many times as possible between November 8 and 14th. I pledged to do it 7 times, and as of today I have 4 more hikes to go. Day 1 – I went up normally. Day 2 – I took my hoola hoop. Day 3 – I ran up the mountain. What will I do next? You’ll have to stay tuned in.

I’m only at 38% with my fundraising goal as of today, so to support my Dare, please click here.

As a little sneak peek, here’s a video of me hooping on the summit.

© Meghan J. Ward, 2010.

Sundance Canyon

If you are using this information for your own trip, please read this disclaimer and description of my abilities.

Sundance Canyon (approx. 7.4km) in Banff National Park is a relatively easy stroll to a more moderate hike up the canyon itself. After having lived in the Bow Valley for a few years, I was a bit ashamed to say that I had never done the walk out to Sundance Canyon, so I did it today. The trail starts on the other side of the Cave and Basin at the end of Cave Avenue in the Town of Banff.

Great Views from the Sundance Canyon Trail

The pathway there is paved, and a bit boring that way, but it offers great views and leads you to a canyon that is well worth the walk. Winding its way along the Bow River, which was pretty high and muddy at this time of year, the trail offers views of the sharp spire of Mount Edith, Mount Cory, Mount Bourgeau, and on the return, Mount Rundle.

Spire of Mount Edith

At one point, I came across a tree that had been cut down and laid across the creek coming down the Sundance Canyon. The trail continued straight however, and it got me thinking that sometime in the past someone used that tree to cross the creek, who knows why. That’s one thing I love about exlporing this area and the Rockies in general – there is always a story behind what you see and mini-mysteries that can keep your mind busy thinking of hypotheses.

Tree Bridge

Sundance Canyon

Either at the beginning or the end of your hike, you can also pay a visit (free to locals) to the Cave and Basin National Historic Site to learn more about the formation of the Parks System in Canada. It’s a pretty funky spot with a lot of history. It’s especially fitting as Banff National Park celebrates its 125th birthday this year. “Discovered” in 1883, this site of natural hot springs (reeking of sulphur) presented a great controversy over its ownership. The dispute was eventually settled by the government claiming the hot springs as for all people in the nation of Canada and establishing the 26 km2 Hot Springs Reserve in 1885. Two years later, the Rocky Mountains Park Act expanded the reserve to 405 km2.

The Cave and Basin

© Meghan J. Ward, 2010.

Upcoming Show: Beyond the Postcards – Overlooked Wonders of Banff National Park

Banff Public Library (May 2010) – Banff, AB

Show Opening – Saturday, May 1st, 7-9 pm

RSVP on Facebook!

I’m teaming up with local photographer, Paul Zizka, for this exciting show in celebration of the 125th anniversay of Banff National Park! In the past few years, both Paul and I have travelled to seldomly visited corners of Banff National Park – and now we bring the photos and stories to you!

The exhibit will be on for the whole month of May if you can’t join us for the opening. Hope to see you there!