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.


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. 

New Short Film: Eye of the Beholder

I have collaborated again with the Mountains in Motion team on another short film, Eye of the Beholder (a Staff Pick on Vimeo!). Featuring an array of scenes from the North American landscape, this short film encourages the viewer to shed previous conceptions and ideas about the world, and return to a place of wonderment and awe.

Shot on location in the High Sierra Nevada, Canadian Rockies and Southern Appalachians.

The film text was inspired by my five-month-old daughter, Mistaya, and the work of Eckhart Tolle in “A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose.”

Enjoy! (Press the four-way arrows to view fullscreen).

New Feature in IMPACT: The Land that does not melt

Back in April 2011, my husband, Paul Zizka, and I set off on a 5-day ski touring journey in Auyuittuq National Park on Baffin Island. A year and a half later, the story of our trip (my words, his photos) appeared in the November/December 2012 issue of IMPACT MAGAZINE! You can read the article in their digital issue (pages 40-43) or pick up a copy in Calgary, Edmonton, Vancouver, Victoria and Red Deer.

Photos from Nepal Trip, 2011

At last, some photos of Nepal from my trip back in the fall of 2011. I wrote throughout the journey on my blog, The Campsite, and you can view all of those blogs here. I am also currently working on a feature story about the impacts of mountaineering and tourism on the local culture in Khumbu, so stayed tuned for news on that publication.

Click on the first thumbnail to enlarge the slideshow full screen. Enjoy!

Mountains in Motion: The Canadian Rockies | Timelapse Trailer

Hello from Pokhara, Nepal, where I am taking a few rest days after just completing the trek to Annapurna Base Camp! Our group has also hiked through Upper Mustang and done an unsupported trek around Dhaulagiri. I’ve been blogging along the way on The Campsite in case you’ve missed it!

Some very exciting news about another project I’ve been working on. My husband and freelance photographer, Paul Zizka, was asked to contribute his local knowledge and photography skills to a Rockies timelapse video, directed, produced and perfected by Doug Urquhart of The Upthink Lab (you must check out their work – it’s superb). For over a year, they have been hard at work capturing images throughout the Rockies, and I have joined in from time to time. Doug asked me to assist with the script of the movie. I’ve contributed the text for the trailer and will begin work on the film in the New Year. Enjoy the trailer and if you feel so inclined, help us kickstart this project. Behind the scenes photos can be accessed on the vimeo website.

Mountains in Motion: The Canadian Rockies | Official Trailer from The Upthink Lab on Vimeo.

Alpine Paddling at Iceberg Lake

Iceberg Lake as viewed from Mt. Jimmy Simpson Junior. “Piccolo Pond” to the bottom right.

It’s one of those hidden gems in the Canadian Rockies, despite the fact that droves of people head to the nearby Bow Hut each year. Nestled above Bow Glacier Falls at Bow Lake, Banff National Park, Iceberg Lake is a small alpine oasis, just hidden from view when below.

Rewind to 2005 and I had just arrived at Num-Ti-Jah Lodge for my first season of work in the Canadian Rockies. About a month in, the snow had finally thawed enough for us to do more hiking right from the doorsteps of the lodge. The objective? Iceberg Lake. At the time I knew nothing about it, nor the glacier that hung over it, nor the giant icefield, otherwise known as the Wapta, that lay beyond. As time would pass I would visit all of these places on various mountaineering and ski touring trips, as well as on a few traverses of the icefield itself.

As if the hike itself wasn’t good enough, this time around we hiked up to Iceberg Lake with an inflatable kayak. Yep. Anyone who has been to Iceberg Lake, or any alpine lake at that elevation for that matter, would probably think we were crazy. But, why not? It felt strange to be bobbing up and down on the water so new and blue as it rushed out of the Bow Glacier. Hoping a serac wouldn’t come crashing into the lake, I paddled toward the falls, pushing against the wind until my arms almost fell off. It felt surreal thinking about where I was paddling and how many times I had visited this place before without a boat.

There’s nothing quite like an alpine paddle.

To get to Iceberg Lake: Follow the lakeshore trail at Bow Lake up to the Natural Bridge, a large boulder that is resting in the canyon. Travel up and over the boulder and follow the trail to Bow Hut. When you find yourself back at creek level, you’ll need to cross the creek that comes down from the canyon leading up to Bow Hut. Once across the creek, aim for the crest of the moraine coming down to the left of Bow Glacier Falls. At the first major ledge, veer left onto the ledge (there are cairns to indicate the way) and wrap around the cliff face into the trees. Take the trail, which is currently flagged, up through the ledge system and trees and continue following cairns once you reach the top of this treed section. The trail will take you to the base of another moraine. Again, follow the crest all the way up until you are level with Iceberg Lake, above Bow Glacier Falls. Hike down to the right, across rubble and smooth rocks to Iceberg Lake, which will be in full view as you descend. Voilà!

Beautiful falls cascading out of Iceberg Lake before descending over the wall as Bow Glacier Falls.