11 Months.

It’s been 11 months. 11 months since I’ve published my thoughts, experiences or trip reports. 11 months I’ve been cruising along in life all the while I was laying out words, but not on paper. I was reliving wilderness trips, but only with myself to grow and learn. I was creating albums, but only in my mind. My memories and experiences have been shared with countless new friends, cemented in my mind and relived with old pals, but they have not been catalogued or published.  How did I let it slip so far out of my control? How did I allow one of my greatest passions to fall by the wayside?

It’s quite easy it seems.

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I unplugged.

That’s not to say I fully went off the grid, I just took a huge step back.  After the van that I was living in died I drifted among couches for a few weeks before settling into a tent in the forest. Nestled among the foliage I made home atop a driftwood platform that protected me from high water on the river. I enjoyed morning sun on my private sandy beach, ciders soaking in my own pool with submerged seating, and midnight skinny dipping during the hottest nights just steps from my door.  Only a few individuals knew of my whereabouts and most of them hardly spoke English. I found myself spending nights around the fire with Mexicans and Spaniards after walking too many kilometers every day. I walked everywhere, with my life in a backpack. We walked to town, to the chief, back to town, to the slacklines, to climb, to the river, up the river, and back down and all throughout the forest. I scampered over logs crossing the river like a puma, and chased bears away with Frank by my side. With no phone or wifi, no vehicle or electricity we lived in the forest for months.

Then I grew tired.

I grew tired of walking everywhere, and getting nowhere. I grew tired of constantly trying to outsmart the bear, and the mice. I grew tired of being alone for many, many hours at a time in the forest. And I grew tired of the uncertainty of continuing this lifestyle into autumn.

That’s when Kiki came into my life, a peppy little Mazda minivan to call home. I continued to live in the tent, but escaped to the mountains first chance I got. Frank and I first headed northbound scrambling Grouty Peak and Locomotive Mountain in the Coast Ranges, enjoyed countless lakes, and hiked many trails. We bouldered in Pemberton then headed south. We climbed Mt. Brunswick for sunrise, and summited the wrong peak on Rainbow Mountain. We spent evening after evening enjoying the circus that is The Chief campground. There were crazy potluck dinners with new friends from around the globe, slacklinging, acro yoga, music, chess and campfires in the cave. Bounties of free food would appear and all the ‘dirtbags’ would rejoice and share. Frank and I enjoyed a great summer of climbing, mountains, friends, and culture.  We watched meteors streak across the sky, and sent our hardest projects yet.

And the circus left town.

September came signalling the end of the climbing season in Squamish and as quickly as the circus arrived, it vanished.  Frank and I moved camp to be closer to our remaining forest friends, and to escape the rising river, but by then we were mostly living in the van. With each adventure we went on Kiki felt more and more like home. Custom curtains made for my old van in golden orange, and rainbow paisley were rigged to fit the new van. The old bed foam and supporting plywood were cut to fit in Kiki next to my crash pad and supported by repurposed wooden drawers. Frank and I settled into our new, very tiny, home just in time for an autumn adventure. We spent our free time experiencing the whole of the Squamish Valley, mostly in peace and quiet finding new places to park and views to enjoy.

Wet Coast with Super Dave

The entirety of November was spent exploring the Sunshine Coast and Northern Vancouver Island with my great friend affectionately known as ‘Super Dave’. Together in the tiniest of spaces we took Frank bouldering on basalt, and climbing routes on pristine Limestone, we went caving and hiking. We passed days lounging on the beach watching seals frolic, and nights watching the stars pass overhead. We had a great time exploring at leisure, and enjoying more climbing that one could hope for during a west coast November. That is until we ran out of money and returned to Squamish.

Winter  arrived.

At least in a relative sense it could be called winter. Not being a skier I enjoy a mild winter, and this year was one of the mildest. With December now upon us I focused on work, and photographing rivers in my free time. I became an expert tarp erector, and was joined by my wonderful friend Megan in vanlife. My vanlife skills continued to improve, with even the local newspaper (<– link to article) taking note. I hustled at work and work made itself suite my life even better. I am now so lucky to be able to with cooperation) write my own schedule working as much or a little as I want to be able to explore, and afford the lifestyle I enjoy.

Home up the valley
Home up the valley

A new year was upon us.

2015 has been nothing but a blessed whirlwind of joy. I spent a week exploring, hiking and bouldering in Ucluete. I made new friends and was offered their homes as my own in Ucluete and on Gabriola Island. I inspired strangers, saw my first cougar and grew stronger in my values, integrity and depth as an individual. I returned to Squamish and then back to the Island where I climbed Mt. Cokely, enjoyed a great misadventure for my 30th birthday, and soaked in the Comox Valley outdoors. I returned back to Squamish and then was off again for a week in Kelowna. On the way Frank and I made a quick winter summit of Needle Peak, then enjoyed the Okanagan heat while bouldering at scenic locations with beta courtesy a new friend Andy.  Each time we return to Squamish we explore new trails, enjoy nights by campfires under the stars and practice our slacklining. We cruise around town chilling with friends, and drinking way too much coffee. Actually, Frank doesn’t drink coffee, that’s all me.

And like that 11 months have passed.

Now Frank and I are only 1 day away from out next chunk of time off with no idea how we will spend it. I enjoy my job so much I could stay, but I won’t. We spend a lot more time on the dog ranch now that my computer has been given a home indoors. By being the best dog handler I could be I have found myself adopted by the family, and they have given me the ease of pursuing my passions of photography and writing yet again. It has been 11 months since my last post, and I’m sure you can see why. Without a home, without power, and without an extreme amount of discipline it’s pretty easy to let all the adventure, community, and spirit of living a simple life in nature carry you away. I may not be the best at sharing my experiences, but I am now among the best at living a life full of experiences.

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Living with the wind.

It can be a hard life in the van, full of uncertainty and loneliness at times, but a life outside is the right kind for me. I enjoy small spaces to myself and being a steward of a large yard. These lands of the Coast Salish I call my own, and protect them as such. I am just now, after more than a year in the wild, beginning find a balance where I can share a little more. I know this has hardly done any justice to the past 11 months so feel free to contact me, and I’ll do my best not to let it slip again.

 

Remember, life is for living. So get out there and enjoy!

(Note: After reading this I realize just how much was left out. From sponsorship and publication opportunities, to foraging and my first music festival experience (full on!). I missed an entire trip to the island and so much around Squamish. Most of all I missed all the lessons I have learned through my experiences and THAT is what I hope to share in the future. We can all help each other live simpler, more earth conscious, happier lives and I believe it’s my duty to you, my much appreciated reader, to do my part in inspire positive change.)

 

Homebase Studios @ Zephyr Cafe, Squamish BC

People are Inspiring

During the month of May two unique pieces I’ve created will be on display at Zephyr café in Squamish BC. They will be alongside works from the other four artists who I share a workspace with at Homebase Studios. My contribution is a mixed media display, an ideal that’s been brewing for years which I have only now begun exploring. I booked the space for us within weeks of moving into the studio, overwhelmed with inspiration and gratitude. After seeing so much inspiring art around I couldn’t resist an opportunity to say thanks by finding a display space.

 

Coming to Life

 

A Step in the Right Direction

Moving into Homebase Studios was the smartest, and most committing decision I have been faced with so far in my journey as a freelance photographer/writer/doer-of-random-things-that-help-people. This decision came at a time when my life was in a state of complete upheaval. My traditional work situation was not existent, I was abandoning conventional housing, and was tired of helping people that didn’t deserve it. After twenty-five years I was finally going to take the leap and hustle.

 

I’m hustling all right.

Spring Growth

Since giving up working a stable, regular job in exchange for pursuing my passions of adventure, photography, and writing full time my life has been blessed with countless opportunities. Despite the hardships the smile on my face grows daily, my kindness reaches further and I have been able to inspire more people than I ever imagined I would. No longer does my energy go towards helping others get rich, but instead it goes into spreading a message of honesty, environmental stewardship, and kindness.

 

After enjoying nearly two months on the Sunshine Coast the engine in the van I called home seized, so I returned to Squamish as a gypsy living out of a backpack. The freedom from home, work and vehicle has allowed for many great things to fall into place in my life. During the past month back in Squamish I have begun some casual work at a doggie daycare, a job which I love but will be passing along to a friend in need as my schedule has become extremely full. I have been hired to be a ‘ghost writer’ of sorts managing social media accounts, while also being bestowed a great honor as a content creator for another social media outlet within the community. A bouldering image of mine was chosen to be the advertisement for our local climbing store in the soon to be released updated bouldering guide book. I was asked to work through the summer at a local store, and despite my desire to have more free time it is a opportunity I cannot pass up as it will help open many door. I have joined the team at Squamish Adventure as their climbing writer, and most excitingly I was recently contracted as chief content creator for a new hiking and trail running map that is being created for Squamish. This job requires that in the weeks to come I hike or run all the best trails in the Squamish area taking photos, writing descriptions and mapping route details. It is a opportunity I could never have come across if it were not for my flexible schedule, and network of friends and allies I have formed in town. All this work is on top of shooting for fun and for clients, and my social initiative Pure Intentions Project.

 

With my upcoming summer of constant work hiking, climbing, socializing, writing, and photographing I took today to spend a beautiful spring day in the forest with my good friend Megan Awesome. After enjoying a couple hours lounging in the sun we set off to wander through Crumpit woods, and Smoke Bluffs. We casually strolled through lush wilderness appreciating the bounty of spring and lounging at various viewpoints. I almost left my camera behind, but thanks to Megan`s reminder it came for the journey. We shared a magical day, and I`m happy to share some of my favourite shots with you.

When we live simply mother nature will provide all that we need. When we live honestly and spread kindness we receive blessing beyond our imaginations. I could not be more thankful for the friendships I have, and the people that help me along my journey. Without the support I receive I could not sustain my commitments to creating a better world for all to enjoy. As a single light we cannot overcome the darkness in the world, but by working together with pure intentions, integrity and personal sacrifice we can overcome fear, hate and destruction.

 

I Will Always Love You

On Sunday March 30th, 2014 at 5:02pm the bright light that was my beloved Gramma Marredy faded to darkness. She was my closest grandparent and my biggest fan. Being away from my friends and family makes it hard to sort out my feelings, so I headed to the beach to watch the sunset on her final day. I’m not always good at dealing with my emotions, but being in nature always helps.

I created this timelapse to symbolize the passing of a loved one. I know Marredy would have loved it, and I know she would be proud of me for finding peace in a difficult time. Although death is a difficult part of life to face it is an inevitable part of beautiful cycle, and one which allows for new life, change and growth.

Please take a moment while you watch this beautiful sunset to remember loved ones passed from your own life. Each day is a blessing, so experience life and follow your heart. It’s never too late to get healthy, live longer, and share more love

I love you Gramma.

29 Years of Looking Back

This Year is For You

Thank You

Today I enter the last year of my twenties, and what a beautiful day to start a new year it is. Snow fell in Squamish making today brightly overcast, dry, and white. A cold, calm, and beautiful day couldn’t be more appreciated than today as I move forward in life towards a bright future. Most people have a freak out upon turning thirty, but for me twenty-nine has got my wheels turning more than I imagined. I can’t help but remember back to how I imagined my life would be at various stages during my youth. It seems I have much to accomplish in the next year, that is if I hadn’t already realized I am exactly where I’m meant to be.

When I was five I imagined by now I would a famous Paleontologist working in far off lands helping to build the puzzle of our past. At ten years old I was very athletically driven excelling at most sports, I was destined to be a underdog in the Olympics. By the time I was fifteen all I cared about was being hot, rich, and famous; a fashion designer or actress it didn’t matter I just wanted to succeed at the ‘American dream’. As a twenty year old university student I imagined by now I would have at least one PhD, have my student loan paid off, be a cutting edge scientist, and married with children on the way. By the time twenty-five rolled around I had reconnected with my spiritual self, found the courage to leave a long-term relationship that wasn’t good for me, overcame my desire for wealth and fame, and found that my priorities lied in nature and community connections. By that point in time I had come to accept that my life is extremely eventful and that my nature of seizing opportunities and going with the flow made it impossible to imagine my future. Last year my life was in such extreme disarray all I could hope for was to not be in physical and emotional harm from myself and others. I don’t think any year has brought me as much change as the past. I’m extremely thankful for the hard times I’ve faced and for all the dreams that never came true.

Now I am ‘living the dream’, or at least the dream according many people within the world I play. Through taking risks, determination, creativity and kindness I have found myself in a place that seems world away only a year ago. I’m well on my way to being a profitable, full time photographer with a great studio space to work. I have a quirky and homey van that I own to share with me awesome best friend Squawesome Frank. Best of all is I’ve made kindness, generosity, and good-will a habit.

To me there is no better place to be than one where you are contributing to a better world. This wouldn’t be possible without all the love and support from my friends, family, and the community of people that support my dreams here in Squamish and across the world. So as I enter this year I want to say thank you to all.

This year is for you and the quest for love.

Chief Night Snow

 

 

Photography & Adventure