Blog.

Cotton Candy Eye Candy

I haven’t had much time to write lately due to some video projects that have been taking a lot of my time but I thought I’d share just a few images from the end of last year. They were all taken around Canmore, one of my favourite places to visit. Thank you for your continued encouragement during this slow time of photography. I really hope that as things warm up I’ll be able to make more time to get out and photograph the environments I love. Out of curiosity, which photo below is your favourite?

First Camping Trip of 2018: Jasper.

     Below are a few photos from our camping trip in Jasper National Park. We spent three nights at Pocahontas campground and went on a few hikes around the area. Our last morning there we  tried out a 10km summit called Sulphur ridge and for the ease of the hike, the views were stunning! I would have loved to camp up there if it was permitted but just getting to look out over the mountains and forest was gratifying enough. Sometimes I think I enjoy the forests more than the mountains, which would make sense since they provided us clean air. I hope you enjoy the photos and have a great week!

2018: The Year of Living Well!

     I'm sure you're thinking a more intriguing title should have been 'The Year of Adventure!' And of course I wish that was something I could promise or had plans for but at this moment there really isn't much on the calendar when it comes to adventures of grandeur. This being said, it's pretty much inevitable that I'll go on some sort of trip to somewhere new and exciting. Since I first started traveling in highschool my life has been filled with relatively regular excursions. I feel beyond privileged to have already been exposed to such a vast variety of cultures, and bucket list worthy experiences. From traveling overseas for 9 months, bungee jumping, a multitude of hikes in gorgeous locations, camping in the Tibetan Autonomous region, white water rafting, snowboarding in the Caucasus, and many more thrills have all provided me with a unique perspective on what it means to live. Some people have an unquenchable thirst for adrenaline, others yearn for more knowledge, and then there are those who crave irreplaceable relationships. There's so much value in each pursuit and people go their entire lives seeking fulfillment through various means but what does it mean to live a well lived life? I'm not only referring to a morally good, or an exciting, or productive life but merely a life that was spent well and responsibly. This lone, deeply perplexing question is one that I think has been on my mind for a long time and only recently have I been pondering it in such a stripped down form.

(side note, I figured this post can be a little longer because I took a long break from writing and have a lot of thoughts building up. Now lets hope I make sense)

     Most people would think that this question could be answered in a variety of ways depending on ones geographical region, religious experience, financial situation, race, gender, etc., but if we are all human should there not be an objective answer for what it would look like to live well during our finite time on Earth? This is where I feel some internal conflict because I want to say there is, objectively, a correct way to progress through life that transcends our personal experiences. Although from what I've observed in so many unique cultures and what society is pushing towards, I don't know if I can stand firm on such a claim without inescapable pushback. It's easy to look at certain actions and concur that it was a good choice. For example, being environmentally responsible, doing helpful things for others, opposing injustice, or even just positively contributing to your community. But I'm unsure if it's possible to rate or scale life achievements in a way that would show what living well could optimally appear as. If there's a farmer in rural China who has an intimate understanding of their crops, the land, their community, and contributes unsparingly to others in need, in what way would we compare that to someone living in a North American city who buys ethically or locally made goods, feeds the poor, helps the elderly, and volunteers inexhaustibly?  

     Even for myself I've worked through various aspirations, all the way from wanting to be a professional soccer player, to a high level commercial photographer in marketing, to now possibly a farmer  or something environmentally related. Each time I'm going down one of these paths I have to ask how can I use that career or choice to positively impact the world around me. I know that sounds like a stereotypical millennial sentiment but I genuinely think that's one of the greatest convictions our generation has to offer the planet. It poses the question of how can we make choices that result in living well so that others can also live well? It forces us to make conscious decisions that intentionally influence our communities directly or even indirectly. Now going back to the question of what does it mean to live a well lived life: wouldn't the logical conclusion be to live in a way that is moving towards restoring Shalom on Earth?

     Thanks so much for checking out the first post of 2018 (especially the McLean's haha). I've included photos from my favourite adventure last year where Celine and I road tripped to Kamloops and our truck broke down literally the furthest spot from home. Lastly, if you have any comments or thoughts I'd love to hear them!

Ptarmigan Cirque.

      I'm not sure how I missed posting the images from this hike but lets just call it a throw back Thursday! By far Ptarmigan Cirque was one of the most rewarding hikes I've been on for how relatively easy the trail was. Once you get to the plateau there are gorgeous scenes in every direction. Not only were the views on point, but the people on the hike are what make the day even more memorable. Celine, Caleb, and Nic are all so much fun hiking with and spending quality time around them is revitalizing! Currently Caleb and Nic are down south and it's been quite the adjustment not being able to hang out with them on a regular basis like we were able to at Prairie. Needless to say, I miss them and our other friends down south immensely with hopes of seeing them soon! 

I'd love to hear where some of your favourite hikes are and what the views are like. I'll probably be taking a break from mountains for a while and begin posting a few of the many sunset drives I've gone on since moving back to Bonnyville. 

My Friend Isaiah.

     Isaiah and I grew up together and lived only a few kilometers from each other. I recall countless bike rides to hang out, innumerable hours jumping on trampolines, and various other activities. Not only did we grow up doing a bunch of classic kid things, we also played soccer together and seemed to know what the other was going to do better than we knew ourselves. Without a doubt some of my fondest memories from my childhood are with Isaiah.

     One story that cracks me up every time I reminiscence involves a hot summer day, a small trashcan and a hole. On this memorable day Isaiah and I were hanging out at my place with not a lot to do. As sweat perspired down our foreheads we formulated a plan to make ourselves a pool to cool off in. Our game plan was to dig a hole in my back field deep enough to put our legs in, then we were going to take a small trashcan, fill it with water, carry it 100 meters to the hole, dump it in and then have a nice cool pool. As you might expect, there were a few holes in this elementary plan. I don’t remember how old we were at the time but I don’t think we were strong enough to carry the selected water vessel that distance with any amount of ease. Regardless of our lacking strength, we made up for it with ambition and hauled the water out to the hole that we just spent approximately 30 minutes digging. I had imagined digging a nice 4’x4’ hole that would be roomy enough to sit in but my naivety bested me. Exhausted, we settled for a humble hole that merely measured 2’x3’ and dumped our little bit of water in. Now I don’t recall if we dumped multiple trashcans of water in or if we made this decision but we came to the realization that the water would just seep into the ground. Again, I’m not 100% clear if we made the ‘logical’ choice or if it happened by accident but some how the trashcan ended up at the bottom of our mud hole. It fit perfectly and provided the solution to our seepage dilemma. The only problem now was that it fit so seamlessly in the hole that it was now stuck. So much so that our prepubescent muscles couldn’t retrieve our water vessel that doubled as my family’s bathroom trashcan.

     Since it was so many years ago I don’t precisely remember the details and Isaiah might remember them differently but what happened next I think is a testament to how far my logic and reasoning has come. Needless to say, I had some anxiety because I had just lost my moms pink plastic trashcan in the hole we created. To add to my building anxiety we had to head to town for errands and were covered in mud. While experiencing a plethora of panic permeating through me, we manically mustered up plans that could possibly solve our multiple problems. The one that stands out to me, and maybe the most ridiculous, was to stand on a giant ant hill, which would then allow the ants to systematically removed the mud off us. I think my logic was that they would need mud to rebuild their home that we just destroyed and our legs were the closest source so obviously they’d removed the mess for us. Unsurprisingly, they just bit us and we had to shamefully walk back to my house to explain to my mom what shenanigans we got into. My memory concludes with her frantically trying to clean us off enough to get into the vehicle and head to town but maybe they remember more details.

     I didn’t expect that story to be so long but I love reliving many of the nostalgic memories I have had growing up with friends and especially Isaiah. Our friendship has grown and developed so much over the years and even though we don’t see each other too often, when we do it’s always special for me. The images below are from his birthday this past March when his girlfriend, Deeyana, invited Celine and I to go on a surprise hike with them in Banff. We decided on Tunnel Mountain and then went for food after at Elk and Oarsmen in town.  Overall it was a wonderful day.

B.T.W.

I realized that over the past year I’ve had the fortune of going on hikes or excursions with many of the people I care about most. Rather than merely talking about the photography or some random thoughts in my blog posts, a genuine reflection or simple acknowledgment of the people I love could have significant value for others and myself. I should also clarify that if you're a friend of mine and I don’t write a blog post to you, you shouldn’t be insulted, I just haven’t adventured with you recently or I just thought of this idea (haha).