Sunday, May 07, 2017

Grassi Lakes at the start of spring.

If you've seen my recent Lake Louise photo-story, you would probably find it hard to believe these photos were taken within five days of each other. Martin and I visited Grassi Lakes before our visit to Lake Louise, so we were about as surprised as you were at the stark contrast between both (and yes, because I've been bad at blogging these days, I'm only getting around to posting these now). It makes sense—Lake Louise sits at the foot of the mountains, covered by their shadow for most of the day and therefore not melting quite as fast, not to mention the area generally being even colder and windier than Canmore. Grassi Lakes at the start of April is well on its way to fully melted, making the trail a little muddy but still very much worth a visit as your introduction to Canadian hiking in the warmer months.

Being an easy 4km round-trip trail, Grassi Lakes is a popular hike in Canmore for families, their dogs and their visitors, being well-marked, easy to find, with great views. On that weekend the trail was pretty busy, as it was warm enough to wear only a t-shirt and a light jacket for what must have been the first time in a long time. I can only imagine just how full the trails will get during the summer months. Grassi Lakes is the perfect place to enjoy a picnic at the end of your leisurely walk, so you can truly pause to enjoy the view over Canmore or watch the rock climbers while sitting by its emerald waters. If you're extra lucky, you might encounter some Bighorn Sheep on your drive there, just as we did.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

A moody mountain day at Lake Louise & the Fairview Lookout Trail.

Long weekends always call for extra adventures. Our Easter Saturday was spent amongst the misty mountains in Lake Louise, where the snow is still falling and the powder on the trails is still knee-deep. April is certainly a month of mood swings for the Rockies—we can get sun, rain, and snow in the same day. To say April is “springtime” in Canada is probably a little premature.

Joining us for our moody mountain adventures were Morgan and her fur-babies, Boone & Mala. We took them up the Fairview Lookout—a relatively easy 2km out and back trail, but the descent was certainly difficult without microspikes. The dogs loved playing in the snow, not to mention the rabbit and the squirrel they spotted along the way...

Sunday, April 09, 2017

Ha Ling Peak at sunrise, and rising to the self.

I wasn't always an outdoorswoman. It honestly wasn't until I started yoga that my relationship to that which I used to avoid changed—rather than judging myself harshly for not being able to break a “bad” habit, I began to observe the discord at an arm's length, and approach it with a process of enquiry. Why did I seem to be blocked around something I kept telling myself I wanted to do? What excuses was I making? What is it about this person, place, or thing that makes me uncomfortable? What is it telling me about myself? Is it only difficult because I am telling myself it is (I believe it was in Hamlet that Shakespeare wrote, “there is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so”)?

Usually the things we avoid are the things we need the most.

Friday, March 31, 2017

Martin & Barbora: Portraits at Spray Lakes, Kananaskis.

Canada is not the place to live if you aren't hungry to explore outdoors at least once a week, no matter the weather or the temperature. It's almost painful to sit inside and answer emails, apply for jobs, or work on my blog when right outside my window, the mountains tease me with their incredible, ever-changing beauty.

Itching to take photos, I asked my housemates Martin & Barbora if I could take portraits of them somewhere. We agreed to take photos at Spray Lakes, Kananaskis. Like many people, they'd never had photos taken by a photographer before. I loved that I could share this new experience with them, but what I loved even more was how much fun we had and how they made the experience their own.

Sometimes, photography is about planning, perfectly styled shoots with incredible details, and everything being “on point”.

Sometimes, photography is about you and two of your housemates on a frozen lake with an “air sofa”, spontaneity, windy hair, constantly changing light, love and laughter.

Monday, March 06, 2017

Spring snowfall in Canmore.

This is spring in Canmore. The temperature still hovers anywhere between a low of -25ºC and a high of -11ºC on some days, or a high of 3ºC and a low of -7ºC on other days. I'm more an admirer of weather in the Rockies than I am of weather in Vancouver: give me cold, snow and sun vs. warm, rainy and grey any day. It's been mostly sunny nearly every day we've been here up until this weekend's snowfall: we got about 20cm in one day on Saturday, and it snowed consistently for the whole day.

That morning Martin and I went for a slow walk despite the flurries, on a trail not too far from home. Not more than a few minutes into our walk we found ourselves high enough to get great view of our whole valley town, sitting quietly at the foot of the mountains. We walked by house upon house with huge windows and I imagined what it would be like to live there, seeing the entire town from above, living almost as if one were in the woods. They were definitely causing an ache in my heart that felt as if it could only be soothed if I lived in these dream homes.

I watched as the clouds moved swiftly across the mountains; bright blue sky and sunlight on one side, and dark, thick grey clouds on the other, a sign of the snow about to hit the town in full swing. We walked carefully, slipping as our shoes moved fresh snow off ice. We made it home and sat down with some hot chocolates just in time before the snow started really coming down.

Sunday, March 05, 2017

Winter in Maligne Canyon, Jasper National Park.

An extension of our epic winter roadtrip story, here's a dedicated photo story from Maligne Canyon, Jasper National Park. We decided to visit Maligne after winter highway closures changed our plans while we were on the road to Canmore, and we had absolutely no regrets. The canyon was like something out of Frozen—the waterfalls, creeks and riverbeds were solid and glass-like, and the rocks and trees were covered in fluffy, untouched snow. We even got to see a few ice-climbing groups (definitely on my to-do list for while I'm in Canada!).

We took ourselves on a self-guided tour (read: not on a marked trail with an experienced guide) into the canyon, and although we made it in and out just fine, I think next time we'll pack a pair of ice cleats, microspikes or crampons. Walking on ice even in decent winter hiking boots was treacherous at times and we went at a snail's pace. Given my ankle injury, my cousin and Martin suggested that I shouldn't enter the main canyon, as the surface leading to it was pure ice. Nevertheless, I got some great photos from where I was standing. I found taking photos to be quite challenging that day, as the white balance (the colour temperature of light) changed all the time depending on where I was in the canyon (thank goodness for editing). Now that I know what to expect, I look forward to returning, this time with those ice cleats, a tripod and maybe some hand-warmers.

An epic winter roadtrip story: Vancouver to Jasper to Canmore.

It's been three weeks since our first Canadian roadtrip and our journey from Vancouver. Even crazier still, it's been almost 3 exact months since we left Australia. The day-to-day looks and feels and smells so different, but better yet, it feels like home. Everything about it sits right with us.

As you may have read from my earlier blog posts, we got hit with some wild winter weather in Vancouver, with some serious and unexpected snowmageddon hitting British Columbia & Alberta the week before we moved to Canmore. What was meant to be a simple, scenic roadtrip to the Rockies turned into a pretty eventful journey.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Gastown with Megan (A Hint Of Vanilla).

I count myself extremely lucky to have come across people in my short life that I've instantly connected with. Megan is one of those people. We connected through Porsha, who is one of my long-time uni friends, and Megan's cousin. Creative talent clearly runs in the family, and I could not believe how quickly Megan and I bonded over food, photography, hiking, dogs, and other random topics. We ended up hanging out twice in the same week before I left for Canmore. In the summer, I'm hoping Megan can join me over in the Rockies for some beautiful backcountry adventures.

Megan, much like me, is at a bit of a crossroads in life, having just left her job as a professional pastry chef. She's just started experimenting with her photography, deviating from food and entering the realm of portraiture & adventure photography. I think you'll agree upon looking at her work that she's certainly one to keep an eye on! Head over to Megan's blog & Instagram to check out her work and most likely drool over her beautifully styled food photography & recipes.

Here are some photos from one of our days together, hanging around Gastown despite the forecast for flurries and “freezing rain”. Photos of me were taken by Megan.

Friday, February 17, 2017

Vancouver Snow.

The sound of white. A quick (lest we lose our extremities) adventure down the park to enjoy our Vancouver neighbourhood blanketed in snow—we got 6 days in a row of snowfall, which is unheard of in Vancouver. The locals said they hadn't seen snow in Vancouver (much less in February) in maybe 30 years. I think we were pretty lucky, although I will say that transport/commute becomes a bit of an issue especially in more suburban areas where snowplows aren't regularly cleaning up the streets.

Don't forget to keep an eye on my Instagram/Instagram-story for more regular, real-time updates.

Sunday, February 05, 2017

Bowen Lookout: Cypress Mountain.

This is definitely one of my favourite experiences in Vancouver to date: backcountry hiking in Cypress Mountain. Martin, my cousin Julien and I had made a plan to visit Cypress after a week of good weather and our trip to Grouse. Unfortunately at the last minute Martin came down with a cold after weeks of us feeling rundown and exhausted, so Julien and I went alone.

The drive to Cypress takes about 40 minutes from where we are in the greater Vancouver area. It wasn't a particularly sunny day at the start, but as you'll see in the photos, that certainly changed (and with a maximum of 11ºC that day, it truly was a pleasant day for it).

Hiking in snow is unfamiliar terrain for my feet as it is let alone with my recent ankle surgery, so Julien picked an easy, but no less beautiful track: the Bowen Lookout trail. A relatively easy 5km return, the Bowen Lookout trail rewarded us with stunning, clear views of Howe Sound, Bowen Island & the Gulf Islands, not to mention boundless beauty along the way. I can just imagine having a little picnic at the lookout during the summer (although you'll see the snow certainly didn't deter a group of four from sitting down to share some Earl Grey tea during theirs, I overheard).