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!

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?

 

Meghan J. Ward Nominated for Best Hiking and Outdoors Travel Blogger by USA Today and 10Best

I have just emerged from a four-day backcountry trip here in Banff National Park to find out I’ve been nominated for Best Hiking and Outdoors Travel Blogger by USA Today and 10Best (readers to decide the final verdict!). After 3.5 years of work on The Campsite Blog (with the help of an editorial assistant, Helena Artmann and a team of gear reviewers), I am thrilled with this nomination, and stoked to be amongst some friends I admire in the outdoor blogging industry.

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Here’s how they decided the nominees:

From USA Today/10Best.com: The top hiking and outdoors bloggers have a passion for nature, history, cool gear — and they have the blisters to prove it. It goes with the territory when you’re out and about snapping photos and sharing your tips, maps, gear reviews and expert advice. For them, exploration is a gift to share through beautiful images, vibrant stories, detailed guides and breathtaking video. Voting begins August 4th at noon. Come back each day through September 1st to give your favorite travel and food blogger your support. Winners will be announced on September 3rd.

Please go and vote!

I’m not normally a fan of these popularity contests, and would rather be judged by a panel, but if you like what I do over on The Campsite, please cast your vote! You can vote once per day until September 1st.

Vote here.

New Publication: Roughing It…Sorta

Parks Canada oTENTikLast summer I had the opportunity to check out Parks Canada’s new oTENTiks at Two Jack Lake in Banff National Park with my husband and 5-month old. As part of an assignment for Avenue Calgary, we spent the night in one of these A-frame cabins and enjoyed an absolute downpour and thunderstorm (and rainbow to follow!) from the comfort of a shelter. My article includes information about both the oTENTiks and Alpine Club of Canada hut system.

Read Roughing It…Sorta in the June issue of Avenue Magazine

Y Leadership and The Shirtless Dancing Guy

“The first follower is what transforms a lone nut into a leader.” – Derek Sivers on TED.com

The Bow Valley of Alberta is a remarkable place. The scenery, of course, draws millions of tourists each year. Visitors and residents alike flock to this Mountain Mecca, allured by the invigorating fresh air, illustrious peaks and an opportunity to connect with nature in a new way. People come and go like waves on the shore. And while the area is known for its transience – students coming for summer, Aussies coming for winter and weekenders coming for a short holiday – the region is chock-full of inspiring people that are here to stay. Passionate people have emerged from the woodwork and done amazing things as leaders in their communities. (Chandra Crawford and her Fast and Female campaign to empower girls through sport comes to mind.)

There is so much more bubbling beneath the surface. This weekend I’ll be attending Y Leadership, a foundational leadership development program for 18 to 30 year-olds, that intersects leadership and experience-based learning. This program, being offered by local partners, including The YWCA, Reframe Leadership, Pacific Center for Leadership and Corporate Funk, is in its pilot phase and I have the opportunity to learning and growing along with a dozen other attendees. I’ll be there to develop professionally, but I’ve also been asked to come as a writer who can bring the message and learning from this program to others through online and print publications.

One thing I’ll be thinking about is how I, as an outdoor, travel and adventure writer, can be a leader in my community, through the pieces I publish and the research I conduct on a daily basis. How might my own learning as a writer affect the planet?

The program faculty sent us two things to take a look at prior to the course starting on Friday. One was a fascinating article in the Financial Post about how Generation Y Will Evolve Leadership. The second was a TED talk by Derek Sivers about How to Start a Movement. At only 3 minutes, the video is well-worth watching here and now! Plus, it’ll answer any questions you might have about the title of this post.

The program runs this Friday, August 5, to Sunday, August 7th. Stay tuned for more updates on this exciting leadership program in Banff National Park.

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.