BACKPACKING DAY HIKING GEAR GEAR REVIEW

GEAR REVIEW: KEEN PYRENEES HIKING BOOT

I have had my KEEN Pyrenees* hiking boots for over a year now and figured I had enough mileage on diverse terrain with them to write up a review.

When I was looking for a new pair of boots I knew that I wanted something supportive and versatile. I hike on a bunch of different trails ranging from the prairie grasslands and rocky mountains of Alberta to the coastal rainforests and beaches of British Columbia and everything in-between. I wanted something that could withstand full days of hiking without wanting to throw my boots off the side of a mountain and my North Face Hedgehog Fastpack Hiking Shoes were just not cutting it anymore.

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ADVENTURE AMBASSADOR CAMP FOOD

KUJU COFFEE – THE BEST ADVENTURE COFFEE

Every adventure that I embark on will always start with a cup of coffee as I drive to our destination. But if you want to get into technicalities of what is in my cup, it is either going to be a vanilla latte or a caramel macchiato. I don’t usually enjoy coffee without copious amounts of milk so the coffee usually stops there as travelling with a tiny carton of milk has disaster written all over it. No one wants to deal with spilled milk in their vehicle, or risk it spoiling. I’ve tried powdered milk – it’s just not the same, and settling for a cup of gas station “cappuccino” is always full of regret. (Yes, even at 3:00 AM with 21 hours of driving down and three hours to go…)

Cue Kuju Coffee, a pocket pour over coffee founded by two Eagle Scout brothers who were tired of watered-down, bland instant coffee who set out to create an ethically-sourced, single-serve pour over that is not only lightweight and easy to pack, but is easy to use and full of flavour! All you need is hot water, your favourite camp mug or Hydro Flask and you are set for some tasty coffee wherever your adventures take you.

Kuju Coffee Hydro Flask sitting on a log
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BEFORE + AFTER PHOTOGRAPHY

BEFORE + AFTER PHOTO EDIT – RAVEN

This is probably my favourite wildlife photo I’ve ever taken, and on one of my favourite road trips! I had pulled over at a rest stop along the highway to take a break after driving through some sketchy winter conditions through a high mountain pass when this beautiful raven sitting on a signpost in front of my Jeep caught my eye. I knew if I stood on-top of one of the rocks a few feet away I could maybe get up high enough to take a decent photo of it. I quietly got out of my vehicle, grabbed my camera out of the back seat, shutting the door ever so gently and walking slowly to my vantage point not to frighten it.

I didn’t start taking photos right away, I just watched it do its thing looking off into the snowy, mountainous landscape before snapping a few shots (as I usually do when taking photos). I want to enjoy living in the moment before seeing life behind my lens. Doing this will typically make me miss a shot, but in my opinion life is about living, not living to get “the shot”. (I’ve been there before) So if the shot happens, I am obviously going to be stoked and if not it’s really no big deal. It’s the experiences that I am having that matter the most.

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ADVENTURE BACKPACKING JOURNAL

CALL OF THE WILD

The moment I painfully limped out of the humid, temperate rainforest and into the parking lot at the end of my last backpacking trip, tearing off my overly heavy backpack and sweaty hiking boots and throwing them into the back of my Jeep and plopping myself into the driver’s seat I muttered the words “I am NEVER going backpacking again!” I was sore, tired, blistered, chafed, and mentally exhausted.

I was defeated.

Unbeknownst to me at that moment in time that six months later I would be planning and anticipating my next backpacking trip (which is just over two short, and very quick months away). However, this hike is going to be somewhat easier on a technical perspective with very minimal elevation gain than my previous backpacking attempt (it is on the pacific coastline after all!) and although it can technically be done in two days (one there and back) we will be adding an extra day to explore parts of island that we will be on, to just relax, drink ciders by the fire, and take in the ocean views.

With it being a moderate hike there are still going to be some stresses, challenges, and fears along the way. Navigating unfamiliar territory and terrain that both Josh and myself haven’t hiked before, the threat of predatory wildlife (cougar, wolf, and bear), tide charts to track, tsunami risk and unpredictable weather. However, with the right awareness, food secured correctly, and gear in place for survival none of that should be too much of an issue. (Except the things we can’t control, like the weather and natural disasters)

So what changed my mind on planning a backpacking trip so soon?

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GIFT GUIDE

VALENTINE’S DAY GIFT IDEAS FOR THE OUTDOORSY TYPE

* Disclosure:  The links in this gift guide are affiliate links. This means that if you purchase something from one of these links, I will receive some compensation. Purchasing through these links will never affect the price you pay, and it will be the same whether you use my affiliate link or go directly to the vendor’s website using a non-affiliate link.
 
Valentine’s day typically means expensive flowers, awkward fancy dinners, and picking up a last-minute cheesy heart-shaped trinket from the drugstore’s seasonal aisle (that let’s be honest, will end up collecting dust, get tossed in the “sentimental items” box, and end up in the next moving day purge). But for the outdoorsy type, receiving thoughtful, practical gifts that increase the stoke to get outdoors and that evoke inspiration to plan that next wild adventure will remain unforgettable throughout the years to come. So skip the expected, tacky, and unnecessary items and give these gifts to the outdoor lover in your life instead.
 

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JOURNAL VIDEOGRAPHY

1 SECOND EVERYDAY – 2018

Back in late 2016/early 2017 I started a one second a day video project but I failed in completing it. I was using a mix of clips from all of my video recording devices (iPhone, DSLR and GoPro) and was using Adobe Premiere to create a compilation – it was honestly a nightmare. Files were everywhere, and it was a lot of unnecessary work. I gave up trying to create a video like this until late 2017 where I had seen someone had posted about their own one second a day video, and that they were using the 1 Second Everyday app. I knew that using this app was going to be SO MUCH easier! So once 2018 started, I was going to give this a solid try. All you do is record some video on your phone and then place in the app on the day it belongs to, select your one second clip, give it a caption if you’d like and continue on tomorrow. (Even if you forgot to do add the videos in the app everyday, it makes it really easy to get the video for that particular day.)
 

 


I am pleased to say that I have completed my own 1 Second Everyday for 2018! Some days were definitely a challenge, and some days I forgot to record when I was doing something exciting and had to film something less cool – like what show I was binging on Netflix that evening, but it is really neat to look back on the year in one second clips in about 6 minutes. It’s a great way to reflect on the best parts of your year (as well as the shittier times). And to see how much we actually eat tacos and pizza! On this version I am sharing below, I did take out a few clips because they were work related stuff that I cannot publicly show, or that they are projects in the works that have not been announced yet. I honestly could not have done this project without the help of Josh! He recorded any video that was taken while in a vehicle as well as kept on me to make sure I completed this challenge that I set out for myself.
 

 

 


 
* All videos that were taken while in a vehicle were recorded by my passenger (Josh). Please do not record video while behind the wheel. Distracted driving is dangerous and against the law. Do not risk your life or other people’s lives just for a video.

 

Be sure to follow my adventures on my social media accounts! I am over on instagram, twitter and facebook.

JOURNAL

18 RAD THINGS THAT HAPPENED IN 2018

2018 was a blur and it felt like it flew by incredibly fast! I decided to come up with a list of 18 rad things that happened to remember 2018 by. (Roughly in order by date they happened)

– I got a new job at an amazing company (Shopify) and love it!

– I quit my job that I spent 9.5 years at and could not be any happier about it!

– I got my first pair of legit hiking boots.

– I got a fishing license for the first time in my adult life and started fishing again (Got Josh into fishing with me). I still haven’t caught anything yet… Josh caught a flyswatter once though!

– I started tying my own fish hooks.

– Josh and I road tripped to Vancouver Island for a few days.

– Josh and I celebrated our 10 year wedding anniversary!

– Josh and I did our first multi-day backpacking trip!

– Got rid of a lot of useless things/clutter in my apartment. (I had boxes of things I didn’t even open since we moved here)

– Revamped my storage room into a kick-ass walk in gear closet. (I still need to organize it a bit better)

– Experienced some incredible sunrises and sunsets.

Sunset Astotin Lake Elk Island National Park Alberta

– Went trail biking for the first time and loved it! (I also got a bike rack for the Jeep, so we can go biking outside of the city)

– Josh got a new job (and quit his former job) – super stoked for him!

– I launched an online store. (and have plans for a couple others)

– Paid off my LOC!

– Starting to shoot video of my adventures (quite late in the year) still practicing and have a long way to go.

 

– Did a 1 second video a day project.

 

– I did not have a major allergic reaction! (If you know how bad the last few years were – this is a huge accomplishment)

 
And because highlight reels don’t share the full picture, here are the misadventures of the 2018:

– My desktop computer broke down, and I lost A LOT of photos. (Friendly reminder to back up your photos often!)

– Was halfway up a mountain trail (after driving nearly 5 hours) and was like – nope, not feeling it today…

– A bison charged at my Jeep while waiting patiently for another one to cross the road. (It was a false charge and he stopped a few feet away) but my window was open and it was pretty scary!

– Drove 3 hours just to turn around due to a severe thunderstorm that was not dying down where we were going to go camping for the weekend (also hydroplaned a bit on this drive – the rain was absolutely ridiculous) we sat in a parking lot contemplating to continue to turn around for quite some time, stopped at a rest stop on the way home to ponder some more – but the clouds were really sketchy and there was a lot of electricity in the air. We did not want to be hiking up mountains or camping in that weather.

– I didn’t book campgrounds in advance (as plans can change on the fly and I’d rather not deal with cancelling/rebooking campgrounds while travelling) and we had some pretty close calls on our road trip with no campsites being available and last minute searching.

– We were camping near the beach on the ocean, and a siren went off – no one knew what it was (or seemed concerned about it which was very unsettling) – it could have been a tsunami warning. There was no cell service where we were, so we were communicating to a friend via text feature on my GPS and got him to check for warnings (there were none) but we definitely did not sleep well being on alert. (Thanks Brad!)

(Photo by Josh)

– I got sick on my road trip and decided I just wanted to go home (and I drove 24 hours straight to get home as soon as I could from Tofino – I do not recommend doing this! Thankful for long summer nights we only had a few hours of sheer darkness)

– My backpacking trip to Berg lake was a bust – we didn’t make it to our first camp in time and had to stay at the one before (thanks to the wonderful couple who let us use their tent pad!) and we turned around the next day due to massive blisters and mental unpreparedness.


– My Jeep and I got rear ended. Thankfully (and surprisingly) there was no damage and no one got hurt.

– The ceiling in our apartment started leaking in multiple spots (again!) For a few days our place was an obstacle course of buckets and towels all over.

– Josh and I’s schedules rarely matched up for quite a few months. I still got to see him on his days off as I work from home – but we didn’t have much days outside of our vacation days to get out and do things together.

 
Here are to the adventures (and misadventures) of 2019!

Be sure to follow my adventures on my social media accounts! I am over on instagram, twitter and facebook.

ADVENTURE DAY HIKING

ELK ISLAND NATIONAL PARK

Over the course of the year, I headed to Elk Island National Park quite a number of times. I posted about my earlier trips here so I figured that I will share the latest photos as well! Elk Island is one of my favourite spots to enjoy nature at any time of the year – it is super close to Edmonton, and each visit is always a different experience.

This particular morning, we headed out just to see the sunrise (I had a vacation day on this particular day, but I wanted to see if there was time for even just a little adventure before work – and there totally is!) We arrived before the sun started peaking above the horizon and were at Astotin lake as the pink hues started lighting up the sky. The shore was full of birds (until our presence scared most of them away)

It was amazing arriving at the lake with the water so still (aside from the waterfowl splashing about), the crisp air slowly warming, and the night sky turning into day. I was so fixated on trying to capture photos of birds on the water and I turned around to look towards the sunrise and was blown away. The sky was vivid and looked like it was on fire. The colours were so rich. I was left speechless – this is what waking up early is all about!

I spent some time just gazing off onto the calm waters, this would have been a perfect morning for a paddle (I am hoping to get a kayak next year, so I can experience these early morning calm waters from a different perspective.

Our next trip involved heading out on Thanksgiving day. We were finally going to be hiking the Shoreline trail – the other two attempts were failed from being the end of winter and way too wet and melty, and the second being ridiculously hot. After not seeing much wildlife on our last visit, this trip was full of wildlife!

I was watching an American Bittern on the shores of the lake for quite some time, it was amazing at how camouflage they are!

Our next trip was a bit different, we went biking down the Hayburger trail. I have never biked on a nature trail before (always either paved trails or gravel roads) so this was a bit challenging. Needless to say, we didn’t quite make it as far as we wanted (we were racing against daylight) but I would love to come back to this when the days are longer and make a day out of this.

We saw a number of ruffed grouse on the trail, it was definitely an accomplishment to have gotten so close to this one as we were cruising down the trails making a bunch of noise (This photo is taken with a 200mm lens, and cropped – I was probably 10 feet away from it)

Our most recent trip involved heading out at 10:00 PM to catch the Geminids Meteor Shower! (I am pretty sure this is the first time in my life that I went out to a dark sky preserve to watch one – and it was STELLAR!) The amount of stars you could see was unbelievable! And of course the meteors were amazing! (I didn’t keep track of how many we saw in the time we were out, but it had to have been around 30) I brought my camera (obviously!) to try to take some photos of the meteors, but unfortunately none ended up in my frame. It’s been a while since I’ve last tried my hand at night and astrophotography so I was definitely spending the time experimenting. (Just means I have to go out at night more to do photography!)

Photos were taken over the course of four different outings to Elk Island National Park (September 28th, October 7th, October 18th, and December 13 2018)

More park information can be found on the Elk Island National Parks page on the Parks Canada website.

 

*Please leave no trace when enjoying the outdoors!
*When photographing wildlife, please keep your distance. (Parks Canada recommends 30 meters from large animals and 100 meters from bears.) Never bait, call, crowd, chase, or capture an animal to get a photo. (For most of these photos I used a 70-200mm lens and cropping to get even closer.)

Be sure to follow my adventures on my social media accounts! I am over on instagram, twitter and facebook.

ADVENTURE DAY HIKING ROAD TRIP

A QUIET MORNING SPENT AT LAKE LOUISE

I won’t say no to an alpenglow sunrise or a drive down the Icefields Parkway late in the season. The crowds are much lower, there is next to no traffic, and it is always so serene!

Late October, I decided that I wanted to head out to Lake Louise for sunrise (which was just after 8:00 AM) this meant that I would have to be on the road by 3:00 AM (slightly ridiculous, but I almost prefer driving during the early morning) We arrived at the lake just after sunrise (missing it by just a few minutes) and took in the chilly lake views with less than a handful of people. I didn’t capture any photos of the sunrise, as I was driving – but it was stunning!

It was wonderful being there so early, and having what is usually a very busy location to nearly yourself. Originally we had planned to hike to the Tea House but even with our IceTrekkers the slight incline up, paired with the sheer ice was not an easy task. We opted to walk the paved trail along side the lake to the end and back instead (which I didn’t even know existed until we started walking) and took in the quiet, peaceful calm of an early, crisp autumn morning. It had only started to get busy on our way back to the Jeep.

After our hike, we headed to the village for a quick stop to buy a pin (I collect patches and pins from the places I go, and had not collected one from Lake Louise yet) I opted for a snowflake with Lake Louise written overtop to symbolize the snowy morning we had, and we headed down the Icefields Parkway to start our way home (Might as well take the scenic route, right?!) We didn’t stop at too many spots along the way, as the parts of the road with higher elevation were snow-covered and we were already not making the greatest of time, we wanted to make sure that we were in Jasper before the sunset just in case we had run into any problems on the road. (Thankfully it was smooth sailing!) But I couldn’t help but stop at Bow Lake gazing into its icy blue waters, I cannot wait to paddle this in the summer! (either stand up paddleboard or kayak – depending if/when I get my kayak.)

Have you been down the Icefields Parkway off-season? It’s something I do recommend! I did it last year as well – and it will always be a trip that I will remember forever!

Be sure to follow my adventures on my social media accounts! I am over on instagram, twitter and facebook.