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.

1. CANADIAN ROCKIES ANNUAL HITS THE SHELVES

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.

2. ADVENTURES ON HAWAI’I, The BIG ISLAND

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.

3. BERG LAKE + MT. ROBSON PROVINCIAL PARK

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

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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.

5. LAUNCHING OFFBEAT

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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,

-Meghan

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. 

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