Flying High in Revelstoke

Today I was lucky enough to get to go for an amazing helicopter ride just outside of Revelstoke in breathtaking British Columbia. I just wanted to quickly share some of the photos from the flight.

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Gear Review: Keen Uneek Sandals

I have lived in Keens forever. My first pair of hiking boots were keens and I have been wearing Keen Newports for as long as I have been canoeing. I have always loved the quality of Keen footwear, as well as the fact that it all looks great. I have big feet (size 10 womens) so I have always been pretty cautious about what I put on my feet because I really don’t want them to look any bigger than they already are. I also work jobs where being on my feet is critical and blisters or sore feet would be detrimental.

I love my Keen Newports (you know, the classic canoeing sandal with a hard toe that makes them great for hiking and saving your toes from encountering hard objects) but they can be heavy and not the prettiest for wearing off-trail.

Let me introduce you to my new favorite light summer shoe:

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The Keen Uneek. These sandals are very different looking, but I have to say I love them. They are two pieces of paracord and a sole. End of story. They are incredibly light weight, but the foot bed is super supportive and comfortable. I started out just wearing them around casually, but have since started doing light hiking in them. They are the perfect all around summer shoe for non-technical wear. Since I got these, I get complimented on them every time I wear them (I also get a lot of people who want to touch them and tell me how odd they are). In my opinion, they are super photogenic and make a great ‘I was here’ photo since they are such a distinctive shoe.13092489_258354097850109_682641639_n

For example, I snapped this from the lookout over Banff on the way up to Norquay. I needed something to put everything into perspective, and my feet were about all I had. The day that I took this, I was touring friends around Banff on their first ever visit. It was a long day of walking and exploring (and also one of the hottest days of the year so far!) so these sandals were the perfect shoe for the job. They also make it super easy to stick your feet in a stream or lake to cool down without the effort of peeling off shoes and putting socks back onto wet feet.

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I am definitely looking forwards to lots of adventures in these adorable, funky shoes! Watch for my feet in my photos 😉

 

Dancing Skies

Last night I was treated to the experience of a lifetime. My night started off pretty low key; I went home from work and was just sitting down when a good friend of mine, Sara, from back in Ontario (she lives in Jasper now) texted to say she was in Banff for the night, along with another friend from back home in Ontario. I raced out to Banff to grab a quick drink with them (margaritas at Magpie and Stump, I highly recommend it if you’re in town) and stroll around the down town. While we were walking, my friend Amanda who is visiting from Ontario mentioned that she really wanted to see the Northern Lights, that it was on her bucket list for while she was out here.

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Because its light out until so late these days, I hadn’t bothered checking an aurora forecast in awhile, but since she mentioned it I thought I should take a look. I opened it up in my phone and to my surprise the forecast for that night was almost off the charts! I showed Amanda and Sara and gave them a couple of ideas of where to go and look later on in the night once it was dark. We parted ways and I drove home to Kananaskis as the sun sunk behind the mountains.

As I pulled onto my street, out of habit I glanced to the north, and to my surprise I could see movement in the sky, a faint dancing.

A lot of people don’t really know what they are looking for when it comes to spotting the Aurora. They expect it to look in real life like it does in all the photos, but in reality it often appears as a faint white-ish moving cloud-like object in the sky. A lot of nights, the aurora is just  thin band, low on the horizon, or sometimes an arc across the sky. It takes some practice to spot it. Now don’t get me wrong, there are some nights where it looks in real life exactly like it does in the photos. And last night was one of those nights.

As soon as I saw the movement, I pulled over and grabbed my camera and tripod (this is why I ALWAYS carry my camera gear) and started shooting.

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^This was one of my first shots I took last night. Whoa. I had never seen that much aurora, right overhead so early in the evening. As I stood there and kept shooting, the sky just kept getting better and better. It was a difficult choice to make, but I wanted to get to Barrier Lake and shoot there, but I didn’t know how long the show would last and it would take me 15 minutes to get to the lake. I decided that it was a risk I was willing to take, packed my gear and headed back up the highway.

The risk paid off and the aurora just kept getting better and better. I found myself sitting on the sandy beach at Barrier Lake, watching a sky full of purple and green dance over my head.

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I have never seen the aurora like I saw it last night. It was right over head, seeming to pulse with light particles at they raced and danced. Just when I thought it was quieting down, or was ending, it would pick right back up again. I was even lucky enough to photograph an elusive phoenix.

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You never remember the nights where you get lots of sleep. Nights like last night are the moments I live for. Such an incredible and humbling experience, a sign that this universe we call home is a marvelous, magical and beautiful thing.

The Calgary Firefighter Stairclimb

So as a lot of you know, on Sunday, May 1st, my team and I participated in the Calgary Firefighter Stairclimb. The climb was a fundraiser for Wellspring Calgary and involved over 300 firefighters running up the Bow Tower (1204 steps!!!) in full bunker gear.

I just wanted to take a quick moment and update my followers on the how the stairclimb went.

I am so incredibly proud of my team. Look at us. Look at those smiling faces.13100812_1575789782718395_3165533962216552659_n

And this picture was taken post-climb. That shows you what the people on my team are made of. We kicked butt. All of us successfully completed the climb and we were overall the second highest fundraising team for the event.

So what does it feel like to climb over 800m straight up with 60lbs of gear on in a greenhouse of a stairwell? It felt hot. Really, really hot. The heat was definitely the biggest challenge. As one volunteer so kindly pointed out to me, it got a degree hotter for every floor we climbed.

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This was me on floor #26, just under half way. At this point. Yup, I was as sweaty as I look.

You know whats harder than handling the heat and the stairs? Fighting cancer or losing someone to cancer. It is almost one year ago to the day since I lost my grandmother to cancer. I dedicated my climb to her, and carried a photo of her (chosen by my grandfather) in my bunker gear pocket.

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All in all, the stairclimb was an incredible experience, and I am already looking forward to doing it again next year! Thank you to everyone who supported my through donations or emotionally; I couldn’t have done it without you guys!

On a side note, I was blown away by the support and love we got from the members of our fire family who weren’t competing; one of the captains, Martin, from our hall came out and volunteered with his family. Hitting the 47th floor and seeing a familiar and friendly face cheering us on was awesome! Also a big thanks to Rob for bringing your lovely wife and children who cheered us on and to my cousin Breanne for coming out with your friends to be waiting for me when I got back to the ground. You guys are what keep us going.