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

Finding Inspiration at the Banff Mountain Book Festival

Considering the quantity of sold out events this year at the Banff Mountain Book Festival, I think it’s safe to say that it is no longer a best-kept secret, and no longer the ‘little sister’ to the Banff Mountain Film Festival. On a more personal note, the book festival has always been my favourite part of the festivals – not only because it offers a more intimate experience, but also because words are my medium of choice, the way I process information, my lifeline.

As a writer, the Banff Mountain Book Festival encourages me to dig deeper, to find the story really worth telling and to continue sharpening my skills so that perhaps one year it will be me up on that stage presenting my own book. But for now I’m content to learn from others, to absorb from a seat in the audience, and bring the stories of others to you.

I can’t recap the entire book festival, but the events today offered a particularly good mix of topics and styles. They also brought with them lessons we can apply to our own lives, which I’ll summarize here:

The Calling.Barry Blanchard kicked off the with the presentation of his book, The Calling: A Life Rocked by Mountains. I was familiar with his book, having reviewed it for The Campsite a few weeks ago, but it was refreshing to hear him reading his own words. In fact, the book read better aloud than it did in my head, and listening to Barry gave the stories new life and the audience an opportunity to laugh. It is clear the crowd – a home crowd for Barry – simply loves this man, and that spoke as loud as his words. One thing I learned from Barry, both through his climbing stories and his account of challenges writing the book, is the importance of perseverance. If you eventually want to see something in print, you need to work away at it, letter by letter, word by word.

Paddlenorth.Next, author Jennifer Kingsley presented her book, Paddlenorth – an account of a 54-day, 1100-kilometre journey she made with friends on the Baillie and Back Rivers in Nunavut. While she didn’t intend to write a book about the trip, the experience motivated her to do so. She didn’t reveal too much about her book (I’ll have to read it!), however a few things she said caught my attention. First, she made a comment about how modern travel allows you to get from one destination to another very quickly, but that does not mean that you have caught up emotionally and psychologically. This also ties into a comment she made about returning home from such a voyage: “This is the kind of trip that when I got home, it wouldn’t lie down,” she said. Having been on a few longer stints of travel, I can relate to both of these comments – to needing time to catch up to my destination and needing time to unravel the threads of the experience once I’m home.

Great Bear Wild.Finally, photographer, conservationist, and author of Great Bear Wild, Ian McAllister, took the stand. I was familiar with McAllister’s incredible photographs, just not the stories behind them. Walking the audience through the backstories of his images, McAllister conveyed a deeper understanding of these magnificent creatures. By explaining their contexts through human analogies, I could relate to the wildlife in a way I never had before. I appreciated these stories because these are the creatures and habitats (alongside First Nations communities) under threat due to the plans to build the Northern Gateway Pipeline. Through McAllister I learned that the Great Bear Rainforest is actually an area that is seeing regeneration and a resurgence of life. It would be a shame to see that compromised. Be sure to check out PacificWild.org for more information on what you can do about that.

The festival doesn’t wrap up until Sunday night, so be sure to check out the Banff Mountain Festivals to snag any remaining tickets.

Keep following along on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for dispatches from the field!