Why I Am Taking a Social Media Vacation

My dear friends,

Starting tonight, I am taking a month-long social media vacation. No Facebook. No Instagram. No Twitter. No Blogging.

After my dad passed away in September, I have been much more of a wreck than anybody would be able to tell from the outside. For those of you who do not know, my father battled with alcoholism for over twenty years, and eventually it was that severe chronic alcoholism that took him from us at only 54 years old. 

He was not the type of alcoholic you might picture when you close your eyes. He was not a stumbling drunk. He was not abusive. He was not a mean-spirited man. Instead, he was a singer, a cook, a businessman, and a loving father. He was my best friend, my biggest fan, and my strongest pillar of support. He hid his problem from everybody for more than twenty years, and he managed to keep it together pretty well on the outside. But eventually, that kind of substance abuse will catch up to you, and the body will begin to shut down if sobriety is not achieved.

Watching somebody suffer this way for so long is unlike anything I can even begin to describe. So I won’t try. But those of you who have tried to help an addict before can probably understand in some way what it’s like. For the past two years, I only saw my dad when he was either in hospital, or just coming out of a treatment centre and beginning to relapse. In order to protect myself, I set boundaries and told him that I would no longer visit him until he was sober. It was simply too painful to see him in that state. The last time I saw him in person was in February, when I said my goodbyes to him in his hospital bed, because I truly thought he was going to die right then. He didn’t. After that, we talked on the phone at least once a week.

Once he did pass away, on September 14th, I tried my best to hold my life together by its fraying threads. People needed me. I was told to stay strong. But eventually, the threads began to snap, and the fabric of my very existence began to unravel.

Between working full time (talking to people about it all day long as a hairstylist), training for and running my second half marathon, keeping up with my blogging and freelance work, blowing through my entire financial nest egg with funeral expenses and unpaid time off work, handling the stresses of building our first home, traveling for work, and managing all kinds of grown-up things that happen when your parent dies, I have been scraped raw. Some days, it feels like there is nothing left of me but tired bones and a heavy heart.

I have also been dealing with some fairly serious health issues. I have learned that I have a problem with my heart, and have been undergoing numerous tests to try and find out what’s wrong. I have been dealing with a chronic wrist injury that is pushing me towards a major shift in my career, which is devastating, uncertain and confusing. I have been battling the fiercest anxiety of my life, sometimes having multiple episodes of panic in a single day. I have also developed sciatica. It’s all just too much.

Now, at this point, I feel it is necessary to point out that the intention of sharing this information with you – my readers, friends and family – is not to earn your sympathy. I have had enough damn sympathy over these past few months. My intention is to break myself open and expose my deepest, darkest and most honest emotions, so that hopefully someone, somewhere will read this and understand that it is okay to take a step back sometimes.

“You Cannot Serve From An Empty Cup.”

Like the majority of people out there, my life’s work is to serve others. I live for it. At the salon, I work to make people look and feel beautiful, inside and outside, serving up to 8 clients in a single day. Through my blog and social media channels, I strive to inspire, offer support and advice, and make significant, lasting connections with like-minded individuals. And in my personal life, I try to be the best friend, girlfriend, sister, daughter, niece, granddaughter or cousin that I can be. But sometimes, somewhere in there, we lose ourselves. We become so caught up in caring for others that we completely disregard our own self care altogether.

I am not well. My body is tired. My soul is bruised. My heart is no longer ignited with that passion that it normally is set ablaze with – for anything. I am really struggling. My health has taken the back seat, and I don’t like the way that it’s making me feel.

Normally, I can turn to friends, family, and social media to inspire me and reignite my passionate heart when I begin to fade. But lately, when I scroll through posts on Instagram, I am met with a lot of ‘fluff’ and falseness. And I know that these perfect pictures of fabricated lifestyles are not authentic, yet I still allow them to hurt me. I become enraged when I see someone post about their ‘poor liver’ and joke about being an alcoholic after a night of partying. I become jealous when I see photos of people enjoying fun, sunset-lit adventures on a beach somewhere. I often cry in agony when I see a post about someone’s father. And I carry around this unshakable feeling that something is wrong with me and my messed-up life, which is awful, because I actually have a hell of a lot to be grateful for. My life is beautiful, and I am blessed. I just can’t see that right now because I am so deep in my ego, so deep in my grief.

And so, I am taking some time off. Away from my blog. Away from Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Away from silly, mind-numbing distractions that permit me to avoid my emotional pain instead of feeling it. Instead, I hope to give myself the time and the space to read, write, run, love, and heal – not with the intention of posting about it on Instagram or writing about it on the blog – but just for me.

Some people self-medicate with drugs, alcohol, sex, shopping or gambling when they are grieving. I have realized that I’ve been doing the exact same thing – only with distractions. With social media. With stupid, mind-numbing games on my iPhone. With food. With anything I deem ‘not harmful’ as a way to keep my brain busy and feed little morsels of approval to my sad, starving ego. These are all one in the same, because they are all methods of short term relief that lead to deeper pain and emptiness in the long run.

I don’t think any of the above things are necessarily ‘bad’. Everything has a time and a place, in moderation. I am not saying that you’re a terrible person if you drink, smoke, enjoy sex or like to shop. I am simply recognizing that none of those things can heal deep emotional pain. Self work. Self care. Self love. That’s what can heal.

Put simply, you have to look within.

And that’s what I am taking some time off to do. At first I was worried about silly things like missing out or losing readers. But I quickly realized that those who want to keep in touch, can. Those who want to invite me to something, will. Those who truly care about me and Adventure To Anywhere won’t unsubscribe just because I need to take a month off to work on my mental health.

If you’ve come this far, thank you for caring enough to read this. If you’re also feeling burnt out, please remember that it’s okay to be selfish sometimes. And finally, if you’re struggling with addiction, please, PLEASE reach out for professional help. I am begging you.

With Love,

Posted in Personal | 5 Comments

4 Reasons Why I’m Taking a Break from Running

I didn’t choose to take a break from running, a break from running chose me.

I will never regret running the Okanagan Half Marathon 3 weeks after my Dad died.  I honestly think that the (bare minimum) training, and the race itself, were therapeutic and healing in themselves.  I was so proud to cross that finish line and earn that medal.  But, I hurt myself in the process.

After the Okanagan Half Marathon

After the Okanagan Half Marathon

I was simply undertrained and overtired.  No matter how much active recovery I tried to do, how many rest days I took, or how much foam rolling I did..my body just would not bounce back.  I was in a lot of pain.  And then, this past week, I was away at a conference in Minnesota, and I pinched my sciatic nerve and have been dealing with intense lower back pain ever since.

Alright, world.  I hear you.  I surrender.  I’ll slow down.

For now.


I’m not sure how long my break from running is going to be, but I know that it’s necessary.  I have been “running on empty” (pardon the pun) since September, and there is only so much of me left at the end of the day.  I have a few 5k fun runs planned for December, which I still plan to participate in, and the San Diego RnR Half in June – for which training will begin in March – so that gives me at least a few weeks to take it easy.

Here are a few things I’m looking forward to during this time.

1. Rest

This one seems obvious, but I am just so excited to rest my hardworking running muscles.  At first, I was afraid of “back-pedalling”, but I have developed a newfound compassion towards my shins, calves, hips and IT bands.  Rest, my dear, sweet, abused legs.  Rest.

2. Trying New Workouts

Especially while I was training for Seawheeze, I became extremely one-track-minded when it came to my workouts.  If I wasn’t running, I was wasting time and energy on something that wasn’t giving me what I wanted.  Now that I have time, I’m excited to try some new classes at GoodLife Fitness (my running friends are always RAVING about BodyPump!), spend more time at yoga, take up swimming, and enjoy long, gentle walks.

3. Revisit my Nutrition

I definitely fell victim to “eating like a runner” over the summer.  Basically, I would eat whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted, with the exception of the day before a long run.  To be fair, I was a revved-up, hungry machine all. the. time. but what I found is that I continued to eat that way even when I wasn’t training heavily.  This led to guilt, weight gain, and other silly things such as poor sleep quality.  I’m looking forward to focusing more on what goes in to my body, instead of just “oh my God get me some pizza before I kick someone”.  I want to experiment more with a plant-based diet (no, I’m not becoming Vegan.  Me and Bacon are too tight.) and new recipes.  Food should be fuel, not a reward.  Well, most of the time anyway. ;)



4. Reignite my Passion for Running

I was talking to another running friend a few days ago, and we both agreed that we are the kinds of people who lose steam and passion when we don’t have enough time between races.  She ran the Calgary Police Half in April, and then the Centaur Subaru Calgary Half in May, and found herself entirely devoid of passion and motivation afterwards.  I think I’m the same way.  Seawheeze and The Okanagan Half were almost two months apart, but I still feel like I didn’t have enough time between races to take some down time.  In all fairness, this could also because I was dealing with the death of my father in between, but I’m not sure.  Maybe I’m not a back-to-back race kind of girl.  All I know is that, lately, running has become a chore.  Sean has even commented on it, because usually I would wake up excited, motivated, and ready to run, but more recently it has been a serious struggle to lace up and get out the door.  I am hoping that, after a brief absence, my passion will return with a vengeance, as it usually does with most things.

Photo taken during my first run after my Dad died

Photo taken during my first run after my Dad died

– – – – –

Have you ever taken a break from running?

How do you like to stay active in the winter months?

– – – – –

*This post was written in part for the GoodLife Fitness Ambassador Program*

Posted in Running Tips | 8 Comments

BMO Okanagan Half Marathon 2015

On Sunday, October 11, I ran my second Half Marathon in the beautiful city of Kelowna, BC.  I lived in Kelowna for 8 years, and left to move to Alberta shortly after I turned 20, but my family and many of my friends remained in Kelowna, so I go back to visit quite often.  It’s not exactly a bad place to visit, but due to some complications in my family situation over the past few years, I had developed a bit of a complex around returning to Kelowna for visits.  It was just hard.


As many of you probably know, less than a month ago, my Dad passed away.  He spent the final few years of his life between Kelowna, Salmon Arm, and finally Lake Country, where he died in his home of Acute Cardiac Arrest as a result of his Chronic Alcoholism on September 14, 2015.  I had registered to run the Okanagan Half Marathon back in the spring, but when my dad died and my life transformed into a hurricane of uncertainty, grief and stress, I wondered what I was thinking planning to run this race.  Being in the height of your training in the midst of funeral planning, handling the estate, cleaning out the place where he lived, and grieving like you’ve never grieved before are not exactly prime conditions for race prep.  But, like so many times before, I found solace in running, even though I couldn’t get many of my training runs in.  I decided to release all expectations for the Okanagan Half Marathon and run it anyway with only one goal in mind; to finish.


I flew in early on Saturday morning, had coffee and spent some time with my mom before we headed downtown to pick up my race package.  The package was fairly simple – a technical t-shirt, race info, a few promotional flyers and a mini flashlight and pen from Flaman Fitness.  We didn’t spend much time at the expo, and it was fairly small.  So we made our way back to the hotel where I had planned to stay before the race, and mom hung out for a bit before she left me alone to relax and do a few of my little pre-race rituals in my hotel room.  I spent the evening watching TV, scrolling through social media, hydrating and eating spaghetti and meatballs.  I was exhausted, so I went to bed around 9pm, and according to my sleep tracking app, I got about 4 hours of sleep on and off throughout the night until my alarm went off at 4:30am.  Let’s be honest, I was already awake.

Elevated Legs & Carb-Loading at the hotel the night before the Race

Elevated Legs & Carb-Loading at the hotel the night before the Race

Flat Ashley laid out for the morning

Flat Ashley laid out for the morning

I still don’t know why, but I had never been so nervous for anything in my running career ever.  My stomach was turning all morning.  The pain in my shin had returned, and I dreamt about fracturing it during the race all night.  I could hardly choke down my bagel.  And then, as I was getting ready to go, the power went out in the hotel and all the surrounding area.  So I finished getting ready by flashlight, and before I knew it my mom was texting me to tell me she was waiting in the lobby.

Breakfast of Champions

Breakfast of Champions

Ready to go!

Ready to go!

Once I arrived at the race grounds, my nerves kicked into overdrive.  I was visibly shaking.  I cursed myself for being undertrained.  I used the porta potties THREE times in the hour before the race.  I nervously chatted with a few other runners, and that helped a little bit.  When it came time to line up in our corrals, I decided to start with the 2:15:00 group since that’s the time I ran at SeaWheeze.  I was pretty sure that I wouldn’t be able to pull that time off today, but who knows, right?

The Start Line before the sun came up

The Start Line before the sun came up

Silently, in those quiet few moments before the gun, I had a chat with my Dad.  I told him I was angry with him, but that I loved him.  I told him that I needed him.  I told him that I missed him.  I told him that I was afraid.  I told him that I wished he would be at the finish line that day like he said he was going to be.  I asked him to keep an eye on me.  And then, I told him we were going to go for a little run.

The first few kilometres of the race felt really good.  I was taking it easy, trying to feel out if the pain in my shin was going to be a problem.  At the 5k mark, I could tell that it was going to be okay, so I began to push a little harder.  It was windy, warm, and dry.  The course was almost completely flat, and took us through downtown, around the industrial area, up by Knox Mountain park, beside the lake front, all the way around the bridge, in and out of the streets of mission, back under the bridge and into city park.

I was surprised at how strong I felt, and I wondered when that strength might start to fade.  Between the 14 and 15 kilometre mark, it happened.  Pain took over my hips, shins and hamstrings, fatigue took over my breathing, and emotion took over my heart.  By the time I hit the 15km aid station, I took water and began a run / walk regime that would last for the remainder of the run.  It was actually very interesting to run in tune with my body for once.  I would run for a few minutes and walk when I needed it instead of pushing through every agonizing step.  My spirit had faded, but I was okay with that.  I shed a few tears of gratitude because I was there.  I was running the race that I thought I couldn’t run.  And hell, I was almost finished.  I was going to finish.  I was kind to myself.  I released my expectations.  I watched the time tick by that confirmed that I wasn’t going to PR.  I didn’t care.  At the 20km mark, I fired up all the strength I had left in my weary legs, and pounded to the finish line as strong as I possibly could.  On the final stretch, I saw my mom on the sidelines, which brought up all sorts of emotion for both of us.  I crossed the finish line with an official time of 2:18:46.

Pushing to the Finish

Pushing to the Finish

This race taught me so much.  It taught me about myself, it taught me about love and loss, and it taught me about the strength of the human spirit, but most importantly, it taught me about self-forgiveness.  I’m usually very hard on myself when I don’t push my hardest and run my best times.  But on that Thanksgiving Sunday, I allowed myself to take what I needed – Time.  Softness.  It was amazing.

Post-Race Bliss (and Relief!)

Post-Race Bliss (and Relief!)

I watched so many runners PR that day.  I saw men and women qualify for Boston.  I met people who were running their first race.  I saw laughing, crying, hugging, cheering.  It was such a cool experience.  I don’t think I’ll ever get tired of the feelings that come with race day.

After the race, my mom and I grabbed some coffee and then headed home to shower and clean up before an epic Thanksgiving Dinner at our friends’ house where I indulged like a person who had never seen food before.  It was an awesome weekend and a beautiful course.  The volunteers were amazing and so organized.  I will be back to run Okanagan again.


– – – – –


1km – 6:24

2km – 6:33

3km – 6:24

4km – 6:26

5km – 6:21

6km – 6:18

7km – 6:16

8km –  6:16

9km – 6:18

10km – 6:10

11km – 6:22

12km – 6:07

13km – 6:31

14km – 6:25

15km – 6:49

16km – 6:42

17km – 6:41

18km – 7:12

19km – 7:03

20km – 7:57

21.1km – 6:06

– – – – –

Have you ever run the Okanagan Marathon?

Has running helped you through hard times?

What is your favourite Fall Race of all time?

Posted in Race Recaps | 14 Comments

Bear’s Hump, AB

This past Sunday, as the girls and I were wrapping up our incredible Alberta Blogger Retreat in Waterton, we decided to squeeze in one last hike up the iconic Bear’s Hump.  Ange had to duck out early for a long run, so it was me, Brie, Jo, Kris, Danielle, Becky & her son Liam, Kaella & her son London, and Rachel – who I finally got the chance to meet in person after nearly two years of online friendship.


Bear’s Hump has to be one of the most rewarding hikes I’ve ever done, and the best part is that it is only a little over 1km long!  There is a lot of “up”, but it’s nothing even our little 3 year olds couldn’t handle.  The entire trip took us about one hour top to bottom.  It was a breeze compared to our hike to Bertha Lake the day before.


Becky & Liam Tackling the Trail together


Forest Friends

The trail is mostly treed, and there is lots of gravel, so if you have hiking boots, wear them, but running shoes would also be okay.

Once we arrived at the top, we were speechless.  The views were absolutely stunning…we could see the entire valley all the way down into Montana.  It was incredibly windy at the top, so we took our photos, drank some water, and prepared to head back down.  Be careful when stepping to the edge of the rock face when it is windy…a few times I felt like I might blow right off.

At the top of Bear's Hump

At the top of Bear’s Hump

Jo, Becky, Kaella & London, Danielle, Rachel, Me & Brie

Jo, Becky, Kaella & London, Danielle, Rachel, Me & Brie

Bear’s Hump will now become my number one Waterton Lakes National Park recommendation.  It is quick enough to be accomplished in an hour, provides unbelievable photo opportunities, gives a fresh perspective of the park, and has some of THE most beautiful views I have ever seen.  Don’t miss it.


* This post is a part of a series that is sponsored by Chinook Country Tourism, who were kind enough to provide the opportunity for myself and 8 other Southern Alberta Bloggers to spend an amazing weekend in Waterton Lakes National Park in exchange for sharing our stories. *
Have you done the Bear’s Hump Hike before?  Did you love it as much as I did?

What is the most rewarding hike you’ve ever done?

Posted in Hiking & Camping Recaps | 4 Comments

Bertha Lake, AB

This past weekend, I was lucky enough to be included in an Alberta Bloggers Retreat in Waterton.  I’m just going to give you all a heads up now; the next week will be full of Waterton spam.  My Instagram feed is flooded with the photos I took on the trip.  I’m also planning to write a total of six (yes, six) separate articles to properly capture this weekend experience while maintaining the structure I’ve set up for my posts on this blog.  I’ll be touching on a few of my favourite things – Hiking, Eating, Activities, and, of course, Selfies.


During our first day in Waterton, a few of the girls (Jo, Kris, Brie) and I decided to tackle the Bertha Lake Hike.  Trailpeak lists Bertha Lake as a moderate, 3 hour 6km round trip.  I’d agree that the hike is moderate in difficulty – but it took us closer to 4 hours when all was said and done.  It’s probably because we stopped for selfies.  And wine.


The trail is mostly treed, with a few little views of Waterton Lakes poking out here and there.  It hailed on us a lot of the time, but we weren’t really bothered because we were protected by the trees.  Along the way, there are a few scenic view points where you can stop and take photos, and also the majestic Bertha Falls, which is the end point for a lot of hikers.  And I can see why – personally, I found the Falls more impressive than the Lake itself.


Taking in the beauty of Bertha Falls

Jo, Brie, Kris and I

Jo, Brie, Kris and I

The fall colours were in full swing – which was absolutely spectacular for photos.  I have been to Waterton in the summer time before (read about that here) but I think that Fall might just be my new favourite time to visit.  Explosions of crisp orange, fiery red, deep yellow and emerald green surround the park, and it is impossible not to be rendered speechless by the beauty.

Stunning Fall Colours on Bertha Lake Trail

Stunning Fall Colours on Bertha Lake Trail

I really struggled on this hike.  I think it was a combination of being hungry, tired, dehydrated, and sad.  I think it’s really easy to get stuck in your own head when you’re suffering from personal loss, and all I could think about was my Dad.  It hurt.  The girls were so kind and patient with me as I huffed and puffed and cursed and cried my way up the mountain.

Eventually, the views made it all worthwhile, and so did the red wine that Jo carried all the way to the lake.  We had a toast, huddled under a tree to get out of the hail, and headed back down after taking in the views.

The girls at the Lake - Photo Credit to Brie

The girls at the Lake – Photo Credit to Brie

When Women go Hiking - Photo Credit to Kris

When Women go Hiking – Photo Credit to Kris

Would I do the Bertha Lake hike again?  Probably.  I’d be interested to see what the lake itself looks like on a sunny day.  I’d also consider camping at the Backcountry Sites at Bertha Lake because they looked really private and serene.  However, if I was short on time or didn’t feel like doing the 20-something switchbacks to the Lake, I would absolutely hike to Bertha Falls only.  They were incredible.

Scenery from the trail

Scenery from the trail

* This post is a part of a series that is sponsored by Chinook Country Tourism, who were kind enough to provide the opportunity for myself and 8 other Southern Alberta Bloggers to spend an amazing weekend in Waterton Lakes National Park in exchange for sharing our stories. *

Heavenly Autumn Trails

Heavenly Autumn Trails

Have you ever been to Bertha Lake?

What is your favourite hike in the Waterton area?

What is your favourite season, and why?

Posted in Hiking & Camping Recaps | 3 Comments

Taking a Break.

Dear Friends & Followers,

On Tuesday, I found out that my father, my dear friend, and my guiding light has passed away.

I am drowning in grief and overwhelmed with emotion and an endless to-do list. I am currently in BC to assist my family with everything, and will be here for a while.

I won’t be blogging over the next few weeks, and I just wanted to let you all know. If you want to keep in touch, please follow along on Instagram. I am trying to be as open and honest about everything as I can while still respecting the sensitivity of our situation.

Have a good weekend everyone! xx


Posted in My Adventures | 2 Comments

Mabel Lake, BC

Let’s rewind waaaayy back to the first weekend in July.  It seems like ages ago now, doesn’t it?  I’ll tell you one thing – as I sit here in my fluffy sweater watching the rain fall outside on this chilly September day, the sweltering days of the summer seem like they were forever ago.

Sean and I traveled to The Okanagan over the first weekend in July for a friend’s wedding, and after a few days in and around Kelowna partying with friends, we took off for some much-needed solitude in beautiful Mabel Lake Provincial Park in BC.


The campground in the Provincial Park is pretty remote and limited – no cell service or showers or anything, but they do have power sites for RVs.  There is a little floating store on site that sells essential foodstuffs, ice cream, random beach gear, ice, toiletries and fishing equipment.  We were tenting, so we were “roughing it” – although as soon as we got to our beautiful lakefront site, we didn’t mind one bit.

Our little piece of Paradise

Our little piece of Paradise

The Floating Store

The Floating Store

We stayed at Mabel Lake for two nights, and spent our time fishing (make sure to get a BC fishing license before you go!), reading, swimming and relaxing.  It was absolutely beautiful and peaceful and exactly what we needed.  As a matter of fact, I hardly even have anything to write about.  That’s how chill it was.

Sean in Relaxation Mode

Sean in Relaxation Mode

It’s definitely a family friendly place.  There were lots of kids and dogs.  There is a boat launch, and the lake is really big, so there are always lots of waterspouts to watch.  The lake was beautiful, sandy, and perfect for swimming.  One day I went out and literally treaded water for two hours.  Just because I could.

The most intense game of Jenga we have ever played

The most intense game of Jenga we have ever played

Lake Lovin'

Lake Lovin’

If you’re looking for a little bit more action, there’s a place called Mabel Lake Resort on the other side of the lake, but we never got to see it.  However, I hear there’s a golf course, a restaurant or two, and tons of stuff to do.

Sean Fishing

Sean Fishing

Heaven on Earth

Heaven on Earth

– – – – –

Have you ever been to Mabel Lake?

Do you like to unplug completely when you’re camping, or do you prefer to stay connected?

What is your favourite camping spot in BC?

Posted in British Columbia | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

You Asked: How do you keep up your Energy on Long Hikes?

How do you keep up your Energy on those Long Hikes?  This question came to me from a friend as a part of my reader survey that I held back in the summer.  I felt it was quite valid, as I know it can be a little overwhelming trying to decide what sorts of snacks to pack, what kind of gear you need, and how much to push yourself during those first few outings when you’re a new hiker.

Since you’ll likely only be doing day hikes in the beginning, I have provided some tips related to day hikes.  If you’re looking for tips for overnight backpacking trips, that’s a whole other story!  Maybe something I’ll touch on in the future.


1. Pack Epic Snacks

Not only are snacks important for keeping your energy up as you burn calories, but they can also be something to look forward to.  I often use snacks as a reward after a particularly tough climb.  You’ll want your snacks to contain some sugar for a quick energy hit, but also some protein for long-lasting satisfaction.  If you’re especially hot and sweaty, you’ll want something salty, too.  You’ll notice that you’re lacking salt if you’re starting to get shaky legs, or if your skin is starting to feel salty and gritty.  Just don’t forget to drink water!

My go-to hiking snacks are usually a few of the following;

  • Apples & Cheese
  • Trail Mix
  • Snack Bars
  • Baby Carrots
  • Peanut M&Ms
  • Beef Jerkey
  • Fresh Fruit
  • Jelly Beans
Don't forget snacks for your Canine Hiking Companions, too! | Bodie snacking on Sweet Potato at Grassi Lakes, Canmore, AB

Don’t forget snacks for your Canine Hiking Companions, too!

2. Take Lots of Breaks

This is especially important for new hikers.  I cannot stress enough how important it is to rest when you need it!  I remember when I lived in Kelowna and I first started hiking, I would push on through dizziness and extreme fatigue, and I got myself into some not-so-great situations.  If you’re feeling exhausted, take a few minutes.  I’ll usually allow myself a little break (5-10 minutes) before big climbs to collect myself, and a snack break (15 minutes) at the top if I’m feeling spent.

The beautiful thing about hiking is that you can go at your own pace!  Don’t feel like you have to hike at any specific speed.  Take your time, take it all in, and stay healthy and happy!

Bonus Points if your breaks look like this! | Goat Lake, Waterton, AB

Bonus Points if your breaks look like this! | Goat Lake, Waterton, AB


This really should have been number one on the list, because it is THE most important thing.  A hydrated hiker is a happy hiker.  Lack of hydration can be seriously dangerous, and the results can be devastating.  Morgan from Beauty In The Backcountry said it best – The Best Place to Carry Water is In You.  Drink lots of water before you go, and continue to drink during and after your hike.  Invest in a good Nalgene or Camelbak.  Generally, I carry 1 litre of water for every 2 hours that I’m hiking, and more if it’s super hot, but everyone is different.  It’s always better to have more than you need than not enough, so take plenty and learn what works for you.

Taking a break at the top of Buller Pass, Kananskis AB

Taking a break at the top of Buller Pass, Kananskis AB

4. Play Games

This little trick has gotten me through many a gruelling hike.  Whether you’re fading fast on an incline or becoming restless on a super long hike – playing simple games with your hiking partner can be a really fun way to distract yourself and pass the time.  Our go-to is usually Twenty Questions.

Easy Livin' in Waterton.

Easy Livin’ in Waterton.

* This article is a part of an ongoing segment called “You Asked”, which allows readers to submit their running, hiking, traveling, or lifestyle related questions.  If you’ve got a question, submit it to admin (at) adventuretoanywhere (dot) com with “You Asked” in the subject line. *

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What are your favourite hiking snacks?

Do you have a favourite game to play when you’re on the trails?

Posted in Hiking Tips | 1 Comment

Three Isle Lake, AB

Last year, Sean, his dad, Gord, and I ventured to Waterton Lakes National Park for a three day backpacking trip.  We did it to celebrate our birthdays, which all fall between the dates of July 1 and August 1, and a tradition we call “Backcountry Birthdays” was born.  Waterton was epic – perfect weather, stunning trails, amazing moments.  You can read more about that here.

Anyway, when the time to do Backcountry Birthdays came again in 2015, we had to wait until the last weekend in August since we all had such crazy busy schedules.  We are all runners, so between all of our races, our summer travel plans, and our social commitments, this was the only weekend we could nail down.  We thought it would be perfect, though – it was right before the kids would be going back to school, so it probably wouldn’t be busy, and it would likely be a little bit cooler than the rest of our abnormally hot summer.

Our plan was to hike into Three Isle Lake, camp there, do the Northover Ridge and hike into Aster Lake, camp there, and then hike out on the final day.  The forecast was calling for 20% precipitation with a low of 6 degrees overnight.  I threw together my pack, making sure to bring a warm base layer for sleeping and a light rain coat, just in case.

Here’s what actually happened…



We set out at 7:30am on Day One, driving from Calgary to the Kananaskis Lakes parking lot.  It was really windy, and I began to wonder if my rain jacket was going to be enough to cut the wind, too.  Upon arrival, we had some time to layer up (it was a lot colder than we thought it would be), use the bathroom, and adjust our packs before we set out on the 10km ascent to Three Isle Lake.

Approaching Kananaskis Lakes from the Car

Approaching Kananaskis Lakes from the Car

Taking a load off

Taking a load off on the trail

The first 7ish km of the trail is super easy.  This leads to The Forks backcountry camp site, which is an extremely popular spot due to its accessibility.  A lot of people will use it as a base camp to explore the surrounding area.  We stopped along the way for a snack and a bathroom break, because we knew what was ahead – the Three Isle Lake trail “Head Wall”.  I had been warned.  I was nervous.

Approaching the Head Wall

Approaching the Head Wall

There’s nothing like coming to a sheer wall on the side of a mountain, and being told that you have to climb it.  You find yourself saying things like “How the hell!?” and “Why the fuck!?” a lot.  About the time we began our ascent of the Head Wall, it began to sprinkle rain.  There’s out 20% chance, I thought.  I put my rain jacket on, slipped my rain cover over my pack, and charged up the side of the mountain.

A wet and unhappy Sean almost at the top of the Head Wall

A wet and unhappy Sean almost at the top of the Head Wall

Almost there!

Almost there!

We all surprised ourselves.  I don’t know if it was because it was raining, because we are all in the best shape we’ve been in in a long time, or a combination of the two – but we absolutely destroyed that Head Wall in about half the time I was expecting it to take.  By the time we made it to the top of the wall, it was pouring.  We took a few soggy photos and trudged on through the mud to find our camp.



When we arrived at camp, we were soaked.  People who had been camping there the night before were packing up to leave, most of them pretty grumpy because of the rain.  We ran into hikers who attempted the Northover Ridge and turned back because it was so dangerous.  We were encountered by a male Conservation Officer who was happy to hear we weren’t attempting the Ridge that day.  We waited for a while, expecting the rain to let up, but when it didn’t – and it turned to sleet – we made a mad dash to get our tents set up while two of us held a tarp overtop, trying to keep things as dry as possible until the fly was on.  It was funny, but it also sucked.

Three Isle Lake

Three Isle Lake

Once the tents were up, I could hardly move my fingers, my toes were freezing, I was soaked to the bone, and my lips were turning blue.  It was about 3pm, but I took off my wet clothes and crawled into my sleeping bag, trying to warm up.  Sean and Gord eventually did the same.  One of the main problems that I have encountered in the backcountry as a woman is that my hair simply will not dry once it is wet, and if it’s cold out, it really contributes to the problem.  This was the case, so I did my best to wrap my wet hair in my buff to keep it off of my head, and I put on my wool toque.  No matter what I did, I just could not get warm.

God Bless The North Face.

God Bless The North Face.

Gord started dinner around 4, and we ate at about 4:30.  They did a great job of creating a little tarp shelter to cook under, right beside Gord’s tent.  Normally, this is a no-no in the backcountry, because you’re supposed to cook away from your tent to avoid attracting bears.  It was about this time that a lovely female Conservation Officer came up to us to tell us that there was a Grizzly Bear by the lake, about 100 metres away from where we were sitting.  Awesome.

Gord and Sean cooking dinner

Gord and Sean cooking dinner

Now would be a good time to tell you that I have an absolutely ridiculous fear of bears.  I know it’s surprising, since I love to be in the mountains SO much, but I am completely petrified of them.  Gord and Sean have both had countless bear encounters throughout their many years of backcountry hiking and camping, and not only have neither of them ever been attacked, but they’ve never even had to use their bear spray once.  I know the chances are microscopic.  I know that.  I know that if we run into a bear, as long as we don’t surprise it or get too close to its food or cubs, it will most likely take off running in the other direction.  I know.  I know.  But the thing is – it’s never happened to me.  I’ve never seen a bear on the trails.  So I have this massive, ominous, crippling fear of “what if” because I am famous for fearing the unknown.  So now, with this pretty little Conservation Officer telling me that “you most likely won’t even see her” – I began fighting off a panic attack.

I panicked for the rest of dinner.  I panicked as we were washing our dishes in the creek.  I panicked as we got into the tent.  I panicked when we left the tent to pee.  Surprisingly, I was still able to sleep (we were in the tent for 12 hours that night, so I should freaking hope so!) but every time I woke up, I was met with a new wave of panic.  I managed to keep it together pretty well, but I know that my anxiety is something that I really have to work on.  However, when we left our wet, frozen tent the next morning and I was alive and untouched, I saw this as progress.  Sigh.  I’m working on it.

It also doesn't help that there were signs like this around.

It also doesn’t help that there were signs like this around.

The night was pretty rough.  Gord was kind enough to give me his water bottle filled with hot water to bring in my sleeping bag with me, which helped immensely.  Snow fell through the night and it was extremely windy and cold – I was wearing every single dry item of clothing I had, and it still wasn’t enough.  None of us felt very rested the next morning, but that’s kind of the norm in the backcountry.

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We emerged from our tent to snow-capped mountains all around us, which was both beautiful and hilarious.  We met back under our tarp-shelter since it was STILL raining, had a nice hot breakfast and some tea, and debated what we should do.  We had three options.  1. Attempt the Northover Ridge, hopefully make it despite the snow and wind, and camp at Aster Lake.  2. Hike back down to The Forks and camp there for the night.  3. Cut our losses and go home.  I let the guys decide, because I really would have kept going if they wanted to, but I would also be okay with heading back home because we were very obviously unprepared for what we were up against.

Our soggy, wet tent

Our soggy, wet tent

I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t relieved when Sean came back to the tent to tell me that we were heading home.  I know that we were all disappointed, especially Gord, who looks forward to his time in the backcountry more than pretty much anything else ever, but it was the smart thing to do.  Just one look up at the Ridge, and we could tell that it wasn’t safe.  It was covered in snow and clouds, and the clouds were moving very quickly, which indicated extreme winds.

So, we packed up our camp and headed back down the way we came, quickly, quietly, carefully.  It was wet and slippery and nasty.  But the promise of a heated car, dry clothes, and a warm bed beckoned.

Ready to descend the Head Wall

Ready to descend the Head Wall

We arrived home in the middle of the afternoon, unpacked, showered, had a nice hot meal and went to bed, grateful.

The view from the top of the Head Wall once the clouds cleared

The view from the top of the Head Wall once the clouds cleared

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I found it necessary to include a day three because even though we cut our trip short, day three of Backcountry Birthdays was still pretty fantastic.  We still wanted to spend the day together, so we started the day with an hour long shopping adventure to our favourite place in the world, MEC, and then we drove up north to T&T Asian Supermarket for a sushi feast.  After that, we grabbed some snacks and went to see a Matinee of Jurassic World, which was unbelievable.  The fact that Chris Pratt is so damn fine might have had something to do with it, but the movie itself was actually really well done.  I’d see it again.  I will see it again.  Chris Pratt.  That is all.

So our weekend didn’t go as planned.  We were all bummed.  The Northover Ridge is supposed to be incredible, and I was really looking forward to seeing it.  But we’re a pretty flexible group, and we made the best of what we were given.  And the nice thing about mountains is that they don’t move much – so I’m pretty sure they’ll still be there next season when we attempt the Ridge again.

My favourite Adventure Partner

My favourite Adventure Partner

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Have you ever cut a camping trip short due to nasty weather?

What birthday traditions do you have?

Posted in Alberta, Hiking & Camping Recaps | 2 Comments

Spruce Meadows “Summer’s Gone, Run On” 10k 2015

On Sunday, I ran my second 10k race; the Spruce Meadow’s Run Series ‘Summer’s Gone, Run On’ 10k. The name could not have been more appropriate considering that we got snow in the city the night before and the race began in sub zero temperatures. It was a rude awakening and a harsh transition into cold-weather running, but we layered up and headed out anyway, hoping for the best.


Soggy Pre-Race Selfie

Soggy Pre-Race Selfie

Sean and I before the race. Can you tell he's slightly unimpressed?

Sean and I before the race. Can you tell he’s slightly unimpressed?

Me, Jen, Laura, Brie and Ange before the race!

Me, Jen, Laura, Brie and Ange before the race!

We arrived at the race grounds over an hour before the gun went off, but we stayed in the car to try and keep as warm as possible. Once it was time to head to the start line to warm up, met up with Jen, Ange and Brie, who were also doing the 10k, and Laura, who was doing the 5k. We quickly chatted through chattering teeth and bounced around like idiots trying to stay warm. It wasn’t long until the 10k began, and we were off.
Only 73 people showed up to run the 10k, and another 42 for the 5k, so it was a fairly small event.  Since it had been pouring rain for nearly two days straight before the race, the original route, which would have had us running through extremely mucky paddocks and fields, was tweaked a bit. This did mean that we were running back and forth through parking lots at some points (hello, Color Me Rad flashbacks!) but overall, the staff and volunteers did an incredible job given the circumstances.
A lot of the race was beautiful – we ran through the grounds, on the pathways, on the gravel roads, and past the horse paddocks – which was amazing because the horses got really excited and would run alongside you.
Excited Horses

Excited Horses

Spruce Meadows Beauty

Spruce Meadows Beauty and Awesome Volunteers

To say that this run was a struggle was an understatement. Between numb toes, old worn out shoes, freezing temperatures, and lack of a proper warmup, I was feeling pretty rough for the majority of the race. I hit a bit of a second wind between 6k and 8k, but the rest of the time I was cursing.
I mostly ran by myself. I started with Sean, Gord and Carie, but it wasn’t long before they made their way steadily ahead of me. And I was fine with that. I popped in my earbuds and took time to take lots of photos and videos along the way.
I didn’t go into this race with any serious goals in mind. Mostly I was just looking to run strong and have fun. The course was just shy of a full 10km at 9.73 by my watch, but I finished in 1:00:36, so I definitely wasn’t upset. For me, this was still a decent time – especially considering how nasty the weather was!
After the we collected our medals and snapped a few post-race photos, we grabbed some chocolate milk and breakfast sandwiches before heading to the car to warm up. It was just not a nice day, but we tried to make the best of it…and the volunteers and organizers were amazing in spite of everything.
Bloggers Love Medals!

Bloggers Love Medals!

The girls and I headed to Starbucks so we could change and grab a hot drink, and then we made our way to the Bow Valley Ranche Restaurant, where we met up with Sam and Joanna, and had an amaaaazing brunch.  7 out of 7 bloggers would recommend!  And definitely try the grapefruit mimosa.
The "Toasty Mushroom" that I had - wild mixed mushrooms on sourdough with soft poached eggs and jus. To die for.

The “Toasty Mushroom” that I had – wild mixed mushrooms on sourdough with soft poached eggs and jus. To die for.

Group Shot outside of the Bow Valley Ranche Restaurant

Group Shot outside of the Bow Valley Ranche Restaurant

After brunch, it was time to head home, have a proper shower, take an Advil and get on with our busy long weekend. I really enjoyed the run, and I look forward to running another Spruce Meadows race in December, and hopefully many more next year!
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Do you have any fall races planned?
What is your favourite spot for Brunch?
How was your long weekend?
Posted in Race Recaps | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments