The highlights of my year aren’t what happened at work or who won the sports championship; the highlights of my year are the time I’ve spent outside. Like last year, I hiked about 700 kilometres in 2015, took countless photos and spent a lot of time sleeping outside (34 nights in a tent!). And like last year, I thought it would be fun to revisit my favourite memories of the year through photographs.
I started the year with a snowy New Year’s Day walk around the cabin community on Hollyburn Mountain in Cypress Provincial Park. There are around 100 cabins in this area along a network of forest trails. They are all quite rustic and many of them are really cute.
Although I love the mountains, coastal hiking also has a special point in my heart. In January I did a wonderfully misty solo hike on the Admiralty Point and Jug Island trails in Belcarra Regional Park to prove that you can in fact go coastal hiking without leaving Vancouver and that solo hiking can be safe and fun.
February began with a fun road trip in the Fraser Valley to check out four different waterfalls. The best one by far was Cascade Falls in Mission which you can view from a suspension bridge.
Apparently I wasn’t tired of waterfalls yet, since I also hiked out to Kennedy Falls in North Vancouver, passing by the legendary Big Cedar along the way.
Later in the month we did one of my favourite bike rides: a visit to Westham Island to see the birds at the Reifel Sanctuary and a ride along the dikes of Ladner.
We had unseasonably warm and sunny weather in February which was perfect for my first visit to the Sea to Sky Gondola in Squamish (hiking up via the Sea to Summit trail naturally).
Since the weather was so mild this winter, in early March we took a quick trip to camp at Ruckle Provincial Park on Saltspring Island to go hiking and road biking.
Every year I start the backpacking season with an Easter trip. This year we went to a new destination: the East Bank Trail in North Cascades National Park in Washington.
I have wanted to visit Yosemite for ages and in April I finally got to go (even if it was just for a couple of days). It was early in the year so it wasn’t too busy and the weather wasn’t ideal (snow!). We still had a great time and we did the Mist Trail, the best day hike in the world (according to me).
I’ve hiked many of the easily accessible coastal trails in BC, but somehow I’d never hiked the Wildside Trail. After hiking it this past May, I can’t believe I waited so long. It’s beautiful! (I also put together a trail guide in case you want to hike it too).
In June we backpacked in to a new area for us: Tenquille Lake near Pemberton, BC and spent a couple days exploring the area.
I woke up on Canada Day at beautiful Joffre Lake. We had a pleasant couple of hours to enjoy the upper lake before the holiday hordes of hikers showed up. Our on hike out we took a break at the second lake to gawk at people trying out the rope swing.
I organized an all women’s backpacking trip to Elfin Lakes in July. All eight of us had a great time despite the persistant fog and rain.
In August I went ski lift-assisted hiking for the first time, taking in the High Note Trail on Whistler and the trail system on Blackcomb on the same day, with a trip on the Peak to Peak gondola in between. The weather was gorgeous and allowed for amazing views.
In late August we headed up to northern BC, the Yukon and Alaska for a road trip. The reason for our trip and by far the hiking highlight of the year was the Chilkoot trail. It traces the route the Yukon gold rush stampeders took from Dyea Alaska near Skagway, over the Chilkoot pass to Lake Bennett where they built boats and floated the Yukon River on to Dawson and the goldfields.
Fall comes early in the north and we were lucky enough to time our trip to the Yukon to catch the peak of fall colours in Tombstone Territorial Park.
Winter also comes early in the north and we hiked in freshly fallen snow on the King’s Throne trail in Kluane National Park in late August.
We continued our northern road trip by waking up on the first day of September at Liard Hot Springs in northern BC.
We wrapped up our road trip by spending a few days hiking around Jasper National Park, including more hiking in the snow on the Mount Edith Cavell Trail.
At the end of September I was finally introduced to the concept of Island Alpine on a backpacking trip to the Forbidden Plateau area of Strathcona Provincial Park on Vancouver Island.
One night in October by beloved bike was stolen but then just over 24 hours later the Vancouver Police found it and brought it back. It was a roller coaster of emotions and I learned so much about bike theft prevention and recovering stolen bikes.
The days were starting to get shorter and colder in October but we still squeaked in one last snow-free alpine hike to visit the newest darling of Instagram, Watersprite Lake.
In November I was hiking on the North Shore teaching a Leave No Trace Awareness workshop and knew I would be too busy talking so I didn’t even bring a camera. Thankfully my phone takes good photos since we saw the best forest sunbeams I’ve ever seen in my life.
Like last year, we hiked up to Garibaldi Lake in late November. It’s a great time of year to go since there isn’t enough snow to need snowshoes yet so the travel is fast, but you still get to see the area in winter conditions. And it’s gorgeous!
In early December I went to Victoria to visit friends and we headed out to East Sooke Park to hike part of the beautiful Coast Trail.
Unlike last year, we actually have quite a bit of snow this December. On our first snowshoe of the year we encountered over a foot of freshly fallen snow and even more falling. I brought along my Therm-a-rest Slacker hammock to give us a place to sit out of the snow.
It’s hard to believe that 2015 is nearly over but I’m excited for what 2016 will bring – I have so many outdoor adventures I want to do. What are your 2016 plans? Tell me in the comments.