Friday, August 04, 2017

Ha Ling Summer Solstice Summit.


The 21st of June marked the summer solstice—the longest day of the year. We decided to summit Ha Ling Peak for sunset. Myself, Martin, three of our friends and two dogs set off at 6:30pm, knowing the sun wouldn't set until close to 11pm. Despite having already summited Ha Ling in March—in harsher conditions—I was still nervous to start so late, knowing that with a group our size we would likely travel slower, not to mention it would get dark below the tree-line well before 11pm.

The weather was grey and foreboding. Despite it being the start of summer, I prepared for every weather condition, making sure I brought layers for the wind gusts when we reached the alpine zone and became more exposed to the elements. The wind and lower temperature at elevation is what makes the summit of any mountain unforgiving, and not something you're likely to sit and enjoy for more than a few minutes unless you're really layered up. It must have been 4ºC at the top of Ha Ling despite it being around 20ºC-25ºC in the valley, but the incoming hail clouds made it feel far more bitter. We found ourselves wishing we had packed gloves after all, shivering from the exposure.

June is still considered shoulder season around these parts—where many trails are still littered with snowy, icy patches and avalanche risks are high as the snowpacks become unstable and come crashing down. The trails on Ha Ling may have been well clear of snow, but the weather certainly tested our preparedness—we got hailed and rained on for the last 1.5 hours of our descent, performing the remainder of our hike in the dark with only the light of our headlamps and lightning. I was thankful we weren't scrambling down in those conditions, and wondered how the people at the top were faring. We made it back to the carpark at around 10:30pm, starving, cold and wet, but elated and somehow ready to do it again—hopefully in better conditions next time.

See below for highlights from the day.

Four lakes in a day.


The week before I left for my trip to the Indian Ocean for LUX* Resorts (more on that soon) was an...interesting one. We moved from our house, our first home in Canmore where we made many a great friend, to a condo deeper into the forests and mountains, further from town, but closer to the wild and the wildlife. A day later, Martin's sister and her boyfriend Andy came to visit, and so, as all good tourists do in the Canadian summer, we took them to Banff & Lake Louise.

First, we visited Moraine Lake—early—to avoid the seas of people that would inevitably arrive. Then we headed over to Lake Louise to do the Lake Agnes Teahouse Trail. Including passing by Mirror Lake, we managed to see four beautiful Canadian lakes in a day. Lake Agnes was still in the process of thawing completely, but that's not so surprising for the start of the season...

Friday, June 09, 2017

Camille Nathania x Workshop Australia x LUX* Resorts.


Well, I've been keeping this on the down-low since December last year (yes, that's right) but now it's time to let you know: in 2 very short weeks I'll be flying to the Maldives, Mauritius & Reunion Island to run my Everyday Storytelling photography workshops at LUX* Resorts, who are collaborating with Workshop Australia to bring unique and creative workshops to their guests.

When I received the call that I'd be going on this trip, I had to take a day to pick up my jaw off the floor before I could call them back and say yes. Who knew I was going to be going on an adventure within my Canadian adventure? My biggest thanks goes to LUX* and Workshop Australia for organising everything and making this happen—I doubt I would've ever been able to go to these beautiful islands otherwise.

I can't wait to share some of my tips on photography, creativity and storytelling with new people, and I'm looking forward to seeing this part of the world for the very first time and sharing the beauty of it with you. I'll be away for a whole month so the blog might be a little quiet, but just know there's more around the corner. Find out more on the LUX* website and stay up-to-date with my travels on Instagram story.

If you want to learn more about photography, I also offer one-on-one photography mentoring & workshops in Canmore and the Bow Valley. Don't hesitate to write to me to find out more: hello@camillenathania.com.

Sunday, June 04, 2017

6 months into a new life.


This month marks half a year living in Canada. Life is fuller than I could have ever imagined. Full not in the sense that it is chaos, but in the sense that each day feels more whole. Every day feels more and more like coming home to myself. As I adjust to the rhythm of a new life, everything falls into place. The love I have for this country and the people I've met will never leave me.

Our story started in Vancouver, touching down on the 15th January. We drove from Vancouver to Jasper to Canmore in February, encountering many a closed highway (read the full story here) and getting a very quick lesson on driving in the Canadian winter. We moved into a house of 8, with views of the mountain ranges out our kitchen window, and have since become friends & family with the people who have come in and out of our home. Our house of travellers has been inhabited by Germans, Czechs, Australians, Canadians, Kiwis, an American and two dogs.

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.