Skate Art – Ilona Kate Customs

Recently I have started drawing on longboards. My boyfriend, Andrew, bought me a beautiful Land Yachtz pintail longboard last year which I adore! But it got me thinking… maybe I could find some blank decks and draw on them!

My experience with art is quite minimal, I never studied it at school. A few years ago, however, I started drawing mandalas as a way to ‘reset’ after attending some difficult jobs as a Paramedic in North Queensland. Originally, they just started as some random patterns on scrap pieces of paper, but then I enjoyed it more and more. Whilst in Whistler, I drew on a few snowboards which was quite the learning curve! Obviously, snowboards are a little more hard to come by in Australia, so skateboards, cruisers and longboards are what I have progressed to. Hopefully some surfboards will be coming up soon!

All of these boards are fully functional. I source them from local skate shops, remove the grip tape, lightly sand the surface, draw on a design with POSCA paint pens, and then spray a layer of clear coat on the board. Some of the boards have then had clear grip tape applied and the trucks and wheels reattached.

I would like to start selling some of these decks, either as functional longboards or pieces of art. I have sold one already… but I don’t think it counts when it’s Mum buying it for Andrew as a Christmas pressie.

Enjoy the photos below, you can visit my shop here

Just Another way to see the Rockies

The Canadian Rockies attract a lot of tourist attention with over 3 million people visiting per year… for good reason! It is one of the most beautiful locations in the world and there is something for everyone to enjoy. I recently had the pleasure of visiting the Rockies and was blown away by the beauty we encountered. With so much to see, deciding on a route can be super tough. After a lot of research and Google Mapping, we settled on our path through the Rockies and I reckon it was a bit of alright! There are soooo many ways to plan your trip, but here’s a little food for thought…

We started our Rockies adventure from Whistler so headed North toward Kamloops. There is a lot to see on this stretch alone; Joffre Lakes, Seton Lake, etc. The scenery will blow you away!

Next we made our way up to Well’s Grey Provincial Park which is approx 60km off the highway via a gravel road. It was so beautiful and quiet with excellent camping facilities and has a wide range of hikes available. Helmcken Falls is a must see if you venture out that far.

Our next stop was in Valemount so that we could prepare ourselves for the Berg Lake Trail in Mount RobsonProvincial Park. Whether you’re planning on doing this hike or not, Valemount is a beautiful little town to visit with a wide range of activities and events available throughout the year.

Continuing our road trip, we next visited Jasper. On the way there you will cross over into Alberta and also enter Jasper National Park. At this point it is necessary to purchase a Parks Canada Discovery Pass or appropriate day passes if you haven’t already done so. You may know Jasper for its hikes, mountain biking, lakes and nearby hotsprings, but after visiting, you will remember it for its laundromat. Yep. In the main street there is the most wonderful laundromat with the best coffee. For some reason we just had to keep going back for something we forgot to wash. Weird. You’ll believe me when you see it. Another place worth visiting (more than once) is Jasper Brewing Company. You deserve it!

From Jasper, Maligne Lake is an easy drive with lots of amazing scenery on the way. We had planned to do some hiking at Maligne, however there had been some snow overnight and not as much melt as we thought. Playing soccer by the lakeside and having snowball fights was not a bad option.

Jasper is the gateway to the Icefields Parkway: 232km of mind blowing scenery. You can easily do this in one day if you are time poor, however it is definitely worth taking your time and exploring everything you can. There are so many places to visit along this road. Our highlights were:

  • Athabasca Falls
  • Honeymoon Lake
  • Waterfowl Lakes
  • Mosquito Creek
  • Bow Summit
  • Peyto Lake

 

If you stop at these locations, you will only be scratching the surface of the beauty this area has to offer. There is so much to do! We had quite poor weather during our Icefields Parkway drive, so did less hiking than planned, but the scenery was still stunning. We camped for two nights at Mosquito Creek which was beautiful and quiet. Firewood was provided, the toilets were very clean, and the camp sites were quite private. Be aware that you may miss out on a campsite if you arrive too late in the day. This is also bear country! A grizzly had been sighted the few days previous to our arrival, so be very careful to secure all your food and garbage. 

 

From there we made our way to Lake Louise. We had three nights here which was great to dry everything out after our wet camping experience, but we definitely could have spent less time here. The ‘township’ is much smaller than we expected and has very limited eateries and groceries available. That’s not to say we didn’t love our Lake Louise experience! Lake Louise and Moraine Lake are absolutely stunning. With their beauty brings a lot of crowds! Our tips would be to start early! Moraine is so beautiful at sunrise… it is definitely worth a look – even in the freezing cold! This will also put you in the perfect position to access some hiking trails before the crowds arrive. 

There are so many hikes available for all sorts of fitness levels, but our favourite was the Plain of Six Glaciers and up to the Teahouse. This hike takes you up behind Lake Louise and provides the most spectacular views. It’s a fairly consistent uphill hike to reach the Teahouse so a couple of scones went down a treat. If you’re planning on going up to either Teahouse, make sure you have cash!! There is no phone service up there and everything is packed in and out – no choppers! You can still pay by card but there is a fee attached. Just take cash.

From Lake Louise we continued down to Banff. Johnston Canyon is on the way, but it was extremely busy. When you see Banff, you will understand why staying here and driving up to Lake Louise may be the better option in terms of town size. Banff has everything you can think of adventure wise… white water rafting, hiking, gondola rides, rock climbing… the list goes on! We accidentally found the Cave and Basin Historic Site which is very interesting! You can use your Discovery Park’s Pass to get in for free.

Again, due to our arrival slightly early in the season, a lot of the hikes in the area were not yet open due to avalanche and rockslide risk. However, we were able to venture down to Kananaskis Country and do the Rawson Lake to Sarrail Ridge hike. WOW. This was by far my favourite adventure of the trip and is well worth the drive out there. The hike to Rawson Lake is quite tame, but as soon as you walk around the lake toward the ridge you are faced with what appears to be a vertical wall. It was tough! But, the views at the top are absolutely spectacular.

We stayed the night in Canmore after our hike and I would highly recommend it! Canmore is approx 15km from Banff but soooo much more chilled out. We all agreed that we could live there forever. There are some great eateries and their markets are amazing too.

From Canmore, it was an easy drive to the Yamnuska Wolf Dog Sanctuary. This was an amazing experience. We had a guided tour and were able to enter one of the enclosures with the wolf dogs behind a smaller fence. There is also a tour available that allows you to enter an enclosure and have no fence between you and the wolf dogs, but this tour books out fairly quickly so be sure to reserve your tickets here. Whether you book a tour or not, the staff at the sanctuary are extremely knowledgable and it is amazing to see the refuge they are providing these wolf dogs.

Our trip from here involved us driving back home via Golden and Kamloops. All up we spent just over three weeks on the road and had a brilliant time. Hopefully this can give you some ideas on your Rocky Mountain adventure!

If you want to see how much fun we had on this trip, feel free to check out my video of it for more details!

 

 

 

Mount Robson: Berg Lake Trail

The Canadian Rockies and the National Parks that encompass them are (not surprisingly) some of the most popular areas in Canada. It is easy to see why… the towering, jagged mountains are so beautifully framed by turquoise lakes and fields of grassy plains. One area within the Rockies that may be a little less traveled is Mount Robson, and in particular, the Berg Lake Trail.

The Berg Lake trail is 42km round trip trek that covers a beautifully diverse range of scenery. The final destination gives you glorious views of Mount Robson, which is the highest peak in the Canadian Rockies. Just give it a stalk on insta and you will see what I mean! Over the course of the hike you will gain 850m (ish) in elevation. Compared to other hikes (eg. Wedgemount) this sounds super easy! Do not be fooled… 500m of this elevation gain is over 5km. With your hiking pack on, it will have you puffing for sure!

The first 7km to Kinney Lake is a nice gentle stroll through the forrest floor with Mount Robson peering down at you through the trees. This is a very ‘easy’ first stage and can even be done by bicycle! If you are time poor, this is a great option as a day hike. After following the Robson River you will eventually pop out at the Lake. It is absolutely magical. There are shelters at the far end of Kinney Lake and this is a perfect spot to stop for a snack.

The next stage of the hike traverses along the valley bottom to Whitehorn Campsite (4km) before beginning the 5km climb into the Valley of a Thousand Falls. This is the most challenging section of the hike, but the scenery is stunning. Once you reach the top you will find yourself at a junction where you can follow the trail toward Berg Lake, or take a small detour to Emperor Falls. I can’t stress enough how beautiful these falls are! It is not far at all… maybe 500m return at most, and you will be rewarded with one of the most beautiful waterfalls I have ever seen.

Next is the final 3km before reaching Marmot Campsite. This is where we camped as it is much smaller than the Berg Lake Campsite and sits right on the water’s edge. The hike to this point is absolutely spectacular. The trail is cut into the side of a mountain and weaves its way right to the shore of Berg Lake.

Because we did this hike out of season, there were not too many other hikers and we had dibs on the seven tent pads available. We went to sleep to the sound of grumbles and groans as pieces of the Berg Glacier calved into the lake below.

To make things a little easier, we left our tents set up at Marmot Campground and hiked the final 2km to Berg Lake Campground with day packs the next day. We unfortunately did not have the greatest weather, so didn’t hike up to Toboggan Falls, but I have heard it is stunning if you have the time to do so.

By spending two nights at Marmot Campground, we were able to truly appreciate the greatness of this area, realise just how cold glacier water is, and most importantly; eat lots of snacks. This hike can definitely be achieved in two days, however they would be two very long days!

Things to remember:

  • It is mandatory to purchase a camping permit for the Berg Lake Trail. This must be done at the Mount Robson Visitor Centre where you will receive additional information from a very old orientation video.
  • Booking is essential between June 14, 2018 and September 30, 2018. There is a maximum number of people allowed on this trail at a time, so be sure to check out the BC parks website for more information.
  • The weather can change very quickly in the mountains, so be prepared for all conditions.
  • There are food lockers available at each campground. Be sure to use them and of course pack out what you pack in!
  • Although we didn’t see any, this is bear country so make sure you have bear spray and are making adequate noise on the trail.
  • Some of the campgrounds have shelters, however these are not for sleeping in. You will need to bring appropriate camping items.

This is a spectacular hike with amazing rewards for your efforts. Enjoy and be safe!

 

Tulips of the Valley… Is it Worth the Drive?

Recently, I took a drive out to Chilliwack to see the Tulips of the Valley. This farm is located in the Fraser Valley and is the oldest and largest in Western Canada. To get to these wonderful fields, you’ll need to drive about 1.5 hours east of Vancouver… is it worth the drive?

Absolutely!

The season begins in early April with seventeen species of Daffodils and ten species of Hyacinths stealing the show. These blooms will last for approximately two weeks.

Then, it’s the Tulip’s turn!

We pre-empted the arrival of the Tulips on our first trip to the Festival, so we just had to go back for another look. Somehow, it was possible for these flowers to be even more vibrant than the Daffodils and Hyacinths. The perfectly lined rows seemed to go on forever and ever. There are 20 acres of Tulips and once you start walking down the designated pathways, you will feel like you’re in an ocean of colour. This amazing scene lasts for approximately three weeks depending on the weather.

The organizers at Tulips of the Valley have been showcasing their hard work since 2006 and have created a wonderful festival. There are a number of food vans on site, a swing set for the perfect photo, and plenty of information boards describing the life of a Tulip.

My advice from being at the festival:

  • Weekends are very busy, so aim for a week day if you can. Week days are also cheaper
  • Buy your tickets online to save some extra dollars
  • Try to plan your visit in the later half of the season to ensure you can see all of the Tulips in full bloom. The Daffodils and Hyacinths may not look as spectacular at this time, but you will still get to see some of them
  • If you have one, take a good camera. There are lots of contests organized by Tulips of the Valley and you’ll be treasuring these photos for a long time!
  • Check the Tulips of the Valley website before you go as it has lots of updates on bloom status as well as weather and events.

This is the perfect Spring excursion for the whole family – including the dog, and I could not recommend it more highly!

A Perfect First Hike of the Season: Wedgemount Lake

Upon arriving in Whistler, we were overwhelmed with the number of hikes on our doorstep. Choosing which to do first was a very difficult decision only made easier by the amount of snow still on the trails. By mid July, we heard that the hike to Wedgemount Lake was clear.

The Wedgemount Lake trail head is about 12km north of Whistler. Once turning off the Sea to Sky Highway, the road becomes dirt and is quite bumpy for the final couple of kilometres to the car park. A 4WD is not necessary, however we had to pick our way around pot-holes carefully. From this point, there are no facilities until you reach the lake and mobile phone reception is scarce.

The trail starts at the far end of the car park and follows Wedge Creek for a short time before beginning the steep 7km ascent. I had read articles about this hike prior to going and thought they were all being a little dramatic…. they weren’t! In total, you will gain 1200m of elevation, and with our overnight packs on you could feel every step!

 

 

For most of the ascent, we were surrounded by beautiful trees with the sun just peaking through the canopy above. This meant there were lots of tree roots to avoid tripping on and considerable concentration was required. At the 5km mark, the trees opened a little allowing us to see Wedgemount Falls. Despite being a fair way in the distance, it gave us some extra strength for our tired legs!

Another kilometre on and the trees were now very sparse. The soft, mossy ground had changed into sharp rock and what appeared to be a solid wall loomed in front of us. A quick break here gave us the energy we needed to make the final climb.

Good thing it was the last ascent because we were spent! The joy felt by our whole group was so intense as we saw the most beautiful blue lake in front of us. We made the short scramble down to the lake foreshore and set up camp. Our aches and pains of the arduous hike were immediately forgotten as we settled into our home for the night. It was the perfect spot to open a cider and share some cheese and crackers.

 

After feeling somewhat rested, we explored around the lake. There is a basic yet rustic hut available on a first come-first served basis which is also a good spot to store food if you are not carrying your own cache. Whilst we didn’t see any, bears are around this area so it is crucial to pack out what you pack in. A pit toilet is also available, however there is nothing glamorous about it!

Perching ourselves on a rocky outcrop, we were able to witness one of the most spectacular sunsets I have ever seen. Perhaps it was the fact that we were the only people there to see it, or that it had been such a struggle to get there, but there was something magical about it.

The remainder of the night was spent eating dinner – consisting of instant noodles and semi cooked lentils, and chatting amongst friends. It was not long before we had all crashed out like a light. The night time temperature plummeted a lot lower than we had anticipated and despite extra layers we all ended up quite cold! The morning sun seemed a long time coming and was welcomed with open arms when it appeared. Some of us were so thrilled with the sight of the sun that a morning swim seemed like a good idea… it wasn’t! Turns out glacier fed water remains very brisk.

With lighter packs, our hike back down was much easier, although our knees still felt a lot of strain. Arriving back at the car was a welcome relief; we had done it! Our first hike of the season and it was a banger!

Things to remember:

  • You will need to make a reservation with BC Parks. This costs $10 per adult
  • There are no garbage facilities at Wedgemount Lake. Pack out what you pack in
  • Take plenty of warm clothes. Warm day time temps do not mean warm night time temps
  • Carry lots of water. There are few fill up points until you reach the lake. It is recommended to boil or treat water prior to drinking
  • This hike can easily be done as a day hike – having much lighter packs would be a bonus! However, being able to camp right on the lake makes it 100% worth it.

If reading isn’t your jam, you can watch my video recap!

 

Welcome!

It is no secret that I enjoy travelling, and as most of my friends would tell you, I hardly ever go on an adventure without a camera! The concept of being able to capture a moment and turn it into a memory that lasts forever makes me so thrilled. With this is mind, I have decided to put a few more words to my photos in the form of this blog.

On this page you will be able to enjoy the various adventures I have participated in whilst living in Whistler, British Columbia, Canada. Prior to arriving in Canada, I resided in North Queensland, Australia, working as a Paramedic. I was able to go travelling on occasion, however my partner, Andrew, and I decided in order to see more of the world we needed to pack up and move overseas! This has not been without its challenges, however we have learnt so much and are so glad to be on this adventure.

Aside from Andrew, my most common travel companion is my trusty Sony RX100iv. This camera has enabled me to capture the most beautiful scenery and remember the most special moments. All the photos featured on this page are thanks to this little camera.

Please join me on this journey of adventure, travel and fun!