Nature Therapy & Alpine Lakes

A lot of us are feeling the weight of the world these days.

With the current state of the world due to the pandemic, politics, climate change, and SO many additional factors, its easy to get lost in a state of despair. As important as it is to stay informed about the global events, self care must always remain number one. And for myself, that meant turning off the news, logging out of my social media, and spending time in the great outdoors for some much needed nature therapy.

One silver lining of this pandemic,

was that it forced us to really appreciate what’s around us. At first, when cancelling my travel plans for 2020 (Faroe islands, I am still coming for you!) I was feeling so incredibly discouraged, as many people were. However, I kept having this lingering feeling that maybe 2020 was a good year for me to stay in BC and explore my own back yard a little more. And even though it wasn’t my choice to do so, I am very thankful that the pandemic forced me to stay put.

There is nothing more therepeautic than breathing in that fresh mountain air

If it werent for my daily dose of nature, I would have lost my mind during lockdown. And i can thank my beautiful dog for getting me out of the house daily. But there was one hike in particular, that was without a doubt the highlight of my summer, and perhaps even my year. This hike, was to the base of the Comox Valley Glacier, to a beautiful aquarmarine coloured lake called Century Sam.

Now, this hike is not a hike for beginners

It had my friend Alison and I cursing a fair bit on our way up. But man, was it EVER worth it! To me, there is truly no better feeling than completing a challenging hike. I had just gone through a breakup and had spent weeks moping on the couch in a pit of despair with zero motivation to do the things I love, including hiking. But as soon as i got a wave of motivation i decided it was time for some nature therapy, and to finally accomplish the hike that had been on my bucket list for years.

it is important to note that this trail is only accessible on weekends as access to the trailhead is on an active logging road that they keep shut to the public during week days. Four wheel drive is definitely a must for accessing the trailhead as there are some pretty significant potholes and ditches that require a high clearance vehicle to pass. For some directions on how to access the trail, there is an excellent article on The Outbound.

The trail was absolutely stunning. It started out relatively flat and weaves through the forrest next to a beautiful flowing river. Hearing the sound of the water flowing was such a calming way to begin the hike. Next up, you begin to do a little bit of “bush-wacking” and this is when the hike started to get interesting.

Pretty quickly, you begin gaining elevation.

From this point on, its basically straight up until you get to the top. There is lots of area’s where you are required to use your hands, and proper hiking boots are definitely a must!

My favourite thing about this hike was the amount of happy encouraging hikers we met along the way. Every person we passed that was on their way down as we were going up, expressed little phrases of encouragement, which gave us the motivation we needed to keep going. And once we finally reached this lake, we could not believe our eyes.

As much as i love popular spots like Lake Louise or Moraine Lake, the fact that you can drive right up to them takes away from the experience for me. Knowing that i had to put in some hard work and sweat my buns off, made the summit THAT much more rewarding.

Nothing but smiles and good company

Its safe to say that spending this day in the alpine with one of my closest friends, was a major highlight of the summer. This day will forever be remembered as a day of great accomplishment for me. It was also a very important reminder to keep pushing through the mud even when you feel like giving up. The end result is almost ALWAYS worth it, and i mean this in more ways than one. And also, never underestimate the power of nature therapy.

What do you do when you feel the need to reconnect and ground yourself? Let me know in the comment section below!

The soundtrack to our adventure

Connectivity & Self Isolation – What a Time to be Alive

A phrase i have often said sarcastically, and now find myself repeating daily. What a time to be alive.
Being in self-isolation, you’re given so much time alone with your thoughts. Yet I am still finding it difficult to wrap my head around whats going on with the pandemic of Covid-19. Every morning that i wake up, i have to remind myself of whats happening. Growing up on a tiny gulf island on the west coast of Canada, you never expect something like this to actually effect you. Yet here we are.
I have been doing my part by social-distancing in hopes to “flatten the curve” and i hope you all have to.

I am a firm believer that with any negative situation, there will always be at least one silver lining.

By being told to #StayTheFuckHome, Its encouraged some healthy shifts in my life.
I have began each day of “quarantine” by doing an hour of yoga, and then heading into the woods with Nala. I am so incredibly lucky that i live right next to the mountains and miles and miles of dense Forrest. The fact that taking my dog on a hike still counts as social-distancing and self isolation has been a saving grace. It’s times like this where i have the most overwhelming feelings of gratitude, to be born a Canadian citizen, living in an area with an abundance of wilderness.

I cant help but feel like this worldwide slow-down is so necessary for a number of reasons.

Number 1 being to obviously flatten the curve and reduce the spread of this terrible disease. However, i feel that it is so incredibly beneficial for us all to slow down and reconnect with ourselves like this every once in a while. We live in a world where we are constantly feeling the need to have every hour of our day occupied. We always are thinking about where we need to be next, what we have to do next, and we so rarely focus on where we are.
I am not trying to take away from the severity of the situation, but rather find light in an otherwise very dark time.
This has been a time of great discomfort for many. Not knowing when we will go back to work, or when things will improve can be incredibly daunting.

But this is what we need. To reconnect. To learn how to live again.

We need to be forced to stay home so we can focus on ourselves and our well-being. I have always said “i wish i could just have 2 weeks to get caught up in life and have no responsibilities”. well… ask and you shall receive!
We need to take this time to re-learn how to live.
Learn to cook the meal you’ve had saved in your Pinterest folder for ages but are always “Too busy” to make.
Paint that picture that you bought your paint supplies for but talked yourself out of.
Call that friend that you’ve been meaning to call for ages.
Fix that thing in the house you’ve been procrastinating fixing.
Do that yoga class you’ve had saved in your YouTube watch later playlist.

Or, do absolutely none of that.

Take this time to sleep in for as long as you need.
To simply just exist, and to breathe.
To do the things that make you feel happy, and make you feel alive.
You have nowhere to be, and nothing to do, other than exist.

The Earth is healing. And I hope we all can learn from this

It breaks my heart that it took a pandemic costing the lives of so many, for us to realize how badly we needed to stop. But The earth has been healing, and after all the years of damage, we must give it time.
CO2 emissions have significantly dropped.
The canals in venice are running clear.
The streets are quiet & the air is crisp.

Its Time to Create!

With nothing but time on my hands, I will be using this as a time to focus my energy on photography, and to create some new and exciting content!
Time to get the creative juices flowing, and see where this forced down time takes me.

What does Self-Isolation & Social-Distancing look like for you?

Let me know about the things that help get you through the self-isolation period in the comment section below!

And for anyone who feels like having a couple “Quarantini’s”… I’ve got the perfect playlist just for you.

A Perfect Weekend in the City

This weekend was one for the books.

My dear friend Madison and I escaped the rock and headed over to the mainland for a pretty perfect weekend full of good tunes, dancing, hiking and lots of belly-laughs. With a thirst for adventure, and a need to get out of town for a day or two, we could not have been more stoked. And, we kicked it all off by seeing The STROKES! Need i say more?
Well… probably.

For those of you that are not familiar with The Strokes, basically they never tour. Or at least its been a long damn time since they toured. So last year, when they announced that they were playing All Points East in London around the time that i was meant to be there, I had to go. I figured that id never get the chance to see them in Vancouver, so may as well! And well, it was amazing. We saw so many incredible musicians that day and it was an experience ill remember forever. But i had pretty much accepted that that would be the only chance i ever get to see The Strokes. Thankfully however, i was wrong.

In February they announced the show for March 5th at Rogers arena, Vancouver.

One month away. I couldn’t believe it! They only announced 3 tour dates: Vancouver, Seattle & LA. Super random, but i definitely wasn’t complaining!
Anyway, we boogied to Vancouver and danced our asses off. It was definitely a night to remember. Unfortunately, i did not take a single photo or video of the concert. Which I am now realizing is actually a beautiful thing. There’s something so freeing about turning off your phone or camera, and just fully immersing yourself in the experience. Unfortunately though, this leaves you with nothing to post on the gram! Oh the horror! (which is why i left you with a picture from All Points East) Pics or it didn’t happen right?

And then, we climbed a hill and saw the most incredible views.

Eagerly we woke up the next morning, ready to tackle the day and ignore our lingering hangovers. We headed into gastown and enjoyed our morning coffee at Milano’s – to fuel us up for a day on the slopes.
We brought our snow shoes with us as we were heading up Cypress Mountain that day for a hike before heading home. Because the weekend just is not complete, unless you squeeze in a new hike.

As much as i absolutely LOVE the city

I will always be an island girl at heart. Because as we left downtown and began driving up the mountain and into the trees it was almost like a breath of fresh air. Don’t get me wrong though, I do love the city. I still love the hustle & bustle, and endless opportunities that you have in cities. But the mountains are and will forever be, my safe & happy place. Part of the reason I love Vancouver however, is it’s close proximity to the beautiful mountains and ocean. Which are necessities for this Island girl’s heart to be happy.
We had the most amazing weather which made for an incredible snow shoe up to the Bowen Island Lookout Point.

When we made it to the lookout point, my breath was taken away.

We were greeted by this beautiful bird… Which I’m guessing was a young eagle? But please correct me if i am wrong. He was beautiful. He stayed perched on this tree branch the whole time we were there. Obviously not a shy fella. I guess we weren’t the only ones soaking in the good views.

I felt as though i could have stayed here for hours.

We stayed up here for at least an hour just completely awe-stricken by these unbelievable views. There were blue jays everywhere, squirrels, and whiskey jacks. Oh the alpine, how i love you.
Being up here got me so stoked to do the Saint Marks Summit in the summer once the snow has melted. We initially thought that we could snow shoe up to the summit, but really that was just a fantasy. After being warned of the avalanche zone and having a ferry to catch in a few hours – we decided Bowen lookout would be much more suitable.
If you’re ever looking for a quick hike just outside the city – you have to do this one! It is not strenuous, very quick and amazingly close to the city. And of course, you get these views! This was my perfect weekend in the city. Anyway, enough from me. Now enjoy these photos, and let me know what you think!

After an amazing day in the alpine

We then made our way home back to the island. It was a jam packed 24 hour visit to the mainland, but it was filled with good tunes, great company, scenic views and the yummiest coffee’s.
Here’s to many more weekends like this one in 2020.
What is your idea of a perfect weekend? Let me know in the comments below!

Roadtrips & Puffins

Latrabjarg, the place of my wildest dreams.

A place of wide open wilderness. A place filled with the most adorable of sea birds – Puffins.

By now, if you’ve done any amount of research on Iceland, you will know that the weather can be completely unpredictable. After a rather snowy and cold day spent exploring Snæfellsnes Peninsula, we were a little apprehensive about driving in the west fjords the next day. We planned to head to Latrabjarg; the westernmost point of Iceland, and home to some of the highest cliffs and seabirds. With snow in the forecast, i was feeling anxious about the drive out there. Especially after reading about how treacherous the road can be. However, Latrabjarg was the place that i was looking forward to the most on this Iceland trip. So, Full send and we’re on our way out to the iconic cliffs. After briefly driving through a few clouds, we were greeted with the most warm and welcoming sunshine for our drive through the mountains.

The drive definitely was no easy feat.

If you ever decide to head out there, please make sure you drive slowly! The road is quite narrow and windy, and its unpaved. So its essential to take your time, soak in all the amazing scenery and enjoy the drive.

We arrived at these cliffs after about 5 hours on the road, and man was it ever worth it. The sun was beaming down on us – making it warm enough to walk around in a light sweater. Felt a bit bizzare, seeing as we were stuck in what felt like a blizzard the day before.
Standing on these magnificently tall cliffs on the ocean, truly felt like you’re standing on the edge of the world. And it also makes you realize just how tiny you are.

We began hiking up and searching for the puffins

We hiked up to the highest point of the cliffs and disappointingly had not seen a single puffin. But thankfully the views were more than worth it. We enjoyed the hike and frolicked around taking in this otherworldly scenery.
However, we came here with a purpose. And that purpose, was to find some puffins. So after soaking in some of the most breath-taking views in the world, we decided to make our descent.
The parking lot got closer and closer, and we still hadn’t seen a single puffin. Until, i spotted a fellow photographer lying flat down on the cliffs, immersed in shooting something. And there it was. I was initially blown away by how small they are. I’m not sure what i was expecting, but i definitely thought they would be bigger. And man, are these birds ever adorable!

And just like that, a million appeared!

They were EVERYWHERE! had we just hiked past them without noticing?
We later found out, that puffins tend to stay closer to the shore on the lower lying cliffs, so the higher in elevation we got on our hike, the further away from the puffins we got. We also found out that they tend to hangout on the cliff’s in the mornings and mid afternoon to evenings. We started around 1 and it wasn’t until probably about 3 that we spotted our first one. All in all – i still definitely recommend hiking to the top at Latrabjarg, because it left me almost speechless. It’s a place that you just have to experience to believe.


Did you know, That puffins mate for life?

If that’s not the cutest thing, I’m not sure what is.

This was definitely a HUGE highlight of our Iceland journey.

And let me just say, The west fjords may be the most magical place i’ve ever been. On our drive home to our Airbnb we had booked for the night, we got to witness one of the most beautiful sunsets. We finished the day off, by bathing in a hidden hot spring right across from the cabin we were staying in.
Its safe to say this was one of the most blissful days i’ve ever had.

Adventures and Bears

After a busy and stressful week, feeling the need for some adventure, i decided a trip to the coast was in order. A co-worker of mine had recommended a place she knew of where black bears are known to hangout and feed, and where you can watch them from a safe distance. So i packed up the car and set off for a much needed day full of Adventures and Bears.

As I have mentioned in previous post’s, Tofino is a place that makes my heart feel so full. I always leave feeling so rejuvenated and refreshed. It’s quite possibly the best place for me to go if I am looking for mental clarity, or just need to decompress.

Our first stop was for a small walk at Little Qualicum Falls.

Next Stop, Bear Watching.

We arrived at the location my friend had told me about. While nala waited paitently in the car, I got out and began looking for bears.
When I first arrived, i couldn’t see anything. So I waited and explored the area a bit. After walking on the boardwalk that’s located on the river where the bears feed, I realized that I could hear the sound of something eating. And sure enough, underneath the boardwalk was a beautiful black bear feasting on a freshly caught salmon.
I was completely blown away. Here i am – standing 2 feet above this amazingly powerful beast, feasting on it’s fresh catch. How unreal!

I decided not to take any photos at this moment, as I felt it was important to just be as present as possible and take in this incredible experience for all that it was. That, and I didn’t have the clearest view of the bear either. It’s honestly quite difficult for me to explain what it felt like being this close to a bear, but it was amazing.

I was so incredibly fascinated and infatuated by this beautiful bear feeding

I was completely immersed in the moment and was paying zero attention to my surroundings. Then, I looked up for a brief moment and realized that there was a massive (and i mean MASSIVE) bear, staring straight at me from across the river.
This was the biggest black bear that i had ever seen, and perhaps the most magnificent creature I’ve ever seen.

I stayed with the bears for about an hour

Though I felt as if i could stay here forever. Since I had Nala-bear in the car, i figured i shouldnt stay longer than an hour. This hour was one of the most precious hours of my life.
You know that feeling you get in your tummy when you’re over the moon excited about something? I felt that for the next 3 days, every time i thought about the time I shared with these bears.

Leaving this experience, i couldn’t help but feel so incredibly lucky. To be able to be in such close quarters with such powerful creatures while feeling so safe is quite an indescribable feeling.

Bears are a source of fear and anxiety for many

But the more time i spend around these guys the less I fear them. It is so incredibly crucial that we all learn how we can happily co-exist with animals such as bears, because after all this is THEIR home and we are simply visitors. If everyone takes the proper precautions and does their research before heading into bear country, i believe that we can live harmoniously with these animals.

Staying calm when close to a bear is one of the most crucial things in my opinion. I am a strong believer that animals feed off of the energy you put out. And had i been uptight, stressed or nervous around these bears, who knows if they would’ve even stayed in the area. I felt truly honored that they were comfortable enough to feed and hangout in my presence.

For more information on safe bear encounters, Check out this link!

Would you want to go bear watching? Let me know in the comments below!

Reykjadalur Hot Spring River Hike

Reykjadalur Hot Spring River

I figured it was time for me to write a post about one of my favorite hikes to date. Big surprise, its in ICELAND. This hike to a hot spring river through the Reykjadalur Valley is an experience that you do not want to miss.

If you’re looking for a quick hike that you can do while staying in Reykjavik, i would highly recommend this one.

This is not a very difficult hike. I would say that it is accessible to people of most fitness levels.
Its about an hour drive from Reykjavik, and the closest town is Hveragerdi.

The name Reykjadalur translates to “Steam Valley”

Which is a very literal description of what you will experience on this hike.

Also, Be prepared to be smelling sulphur for the duration of this journey.

Most of the ascent is in the first kilometer of the trail, and then it levels out which makes for a lovely leisurely hike through the valley. It takes roughly 45 minutes to an hour one way.

After completing the initial ascent of the treck, you will come across a beautiful canyon to your left. Make sure to stop here and check out the beautiful waterfall in the valley.

Then, after meandering through these beautiful mountain valleys, you will begin to notice lots of little bubbling hot springs along side the trail. This means you’re very close to the river. Once you finally reach the river, and after you’ve adjusted to that yummy sulphur smell, you are rewarded with the best bathing experience ever!

As you can see in the image above, there are small stalls that you can change behind for a bit of privacy.

It was very cold and windy for the duration of the hike

And after stripping down to change in the cold wind, jumping into this hot river was the best reward.
It is a pretty indescribable feeling, being able to bathe in a completely natural hot river, surrounded by mountains. It is definitely an experience that you will never forget.

Though this isn’t a very lengthy hike at all, i would highly recommend taking your time once you arrive at the river. Pack a lunch and take time to enjoy the amazing natural surroundings.

Before doing this hike, I read a fantastic blog post by a lady named Regina – who posts for a site called “Guide to Iceland”.
Guide to Iceland is an excellent site with lots of great deals on tours/excursions etc. As well as lots of very helpful and informative blog posts. I highly recommend taking a peak before your visit to Iceland!

For more information on this hike, click the link below to read Regina’s Post on the Reykjadalur Valley!

Ucluelet is Never A Bad Idea

Life is swell, on the west coast

Taking time to reflect on that beautiful weekend we spent in Tofino last week.

Click the Link below to read my previous post about the amazingly adorable place that we stayed in.

After completing a small hike overlooking the beautiful Cox Bay, we began to take a little drive out to Ucluelet. We decided to stop at the Wild Pacific Trail to stretch our legs and give Nala a bit more of a walk. And what a fabulous choice that was.

We walked out to the lighthouse and were greeted with the some of the most magnificent waves. I was completely in awe of the turquoise colour of the water, and watching these massive waves crash behind the lighthouse.

It was every photographer’s dream conditions.

Not only were the waves mesmerizing, the sun was also peaking through the big thick navy blue clouds creating god-like sunbeams shining down on the ocean. I was in heaven. What started off as just a 15 minute break to stretch our legs, quickly turned into a 3 hour wave watching session until the sun went down.
Ucluelet is never a bad idea.

There really are no bad days on the west coast.

A road trip is not complete without a sweet playlist. So, I figured i’d leave you with the song and playlist that I had on repeat for this weekend.
What is your go-to music for road trips? Let me know in the comments below!

All images found on this blog have been shot & edited by Steph Gaul

Who wouldn’t want to wake up here?

Paradise is just a 3 hour drive from home

After a long sketchy drive in the pouring rain, we were lucky enough to wake up in tofino in the cutest hotel ever.

We booked to stay with The Shoreline for 2 nights and i cannot reccomend this place enough! We are staying in the pet friendly room so that we could bring nala – and they supply you with dog bowls, a dog bed, poop bags and treats. It is so amazingly cozy and situated right on the water. Also, conviniently located stumbling distance from not only the tofino brewery, but shelter – where you will find the most delicious calamari in the world.

The Shoreline was filled with the most thoughftul touches

The thing that i loved the most about this hotel – was the fact that everything inside was locally made. From the towels and blankets – to the locally roasted coffee and house made essential oil blends.

This was the absolute perfect place to hunker down for a weekend and watch the storms pass by.

All this being said , we came for tofino looking for some adventure, and we definitely got it!

We started our first morning by doing the cox bay lookout hike which was amazing. Once we got to the top we noticed some big dark clouds rolling in, and sure enough we got stuck in a hail storm a few minutes later. Thankfully though, that didnt last for too long and we were greated by the suns beautiful rays moments later.

Now, Time to get off my computer and enjoy the rest of our time here.
I’ll leave you with the song I’ve had on repeat this whole weekend.

Tell me, would you want to #wakeuphere?

All images found on this blog have been shot & edited by Steph Gaul

Why Iceland?

As you can probably already tell from my portfolio, i am extremely inspired by the cold northern landscapes and everything they have to entail. For as long as i can remember, i have always been so mesmerized by waterfalls, glaciers, beaches, volcanoes etc. So as you can imagine, Iceland seemed like a geological dreamland to me.

Anyway, i figured i may as well make a post giving some insight into my connection with Iceland, and why its my favourite place to photograph.

Lets start with my first trip to Iceland.

It had been about 2 years since i had extensively travelled abroad. My last trip prior to this, was when i went to work as an Au-Pair in Spain ; and what a trip that was. I was 18 at the time, and this trip definitely came with its fair share of challenges. Anyway – thats a topic for another time. However, my experience abroad left me with alot of feelings of anxiety and self doubt.

Needless to say, in my heart i knew travelling was something i not only wanted, but needed. And in order to get over my anxieties surrounding travelling, i just had to take the plunge, and book a trip.

My brother and I decided to drop everything and go backpacking around Europe for a couple months. While planning and coordinating getting time off work – i was able to get an extra week off at the begining of September. My brother unfortunately, couldnt leave Canada until a week later. And it was then that i decided, it was time to finally visit the Country of my dreams. Solo.

Iceland was all i had talked about for months

And when the day came for me to step on the plane, a bunch of dormant anxieties surrounding travelling came rushing back. I remember phoning my dad and telling him that i didn’t want to go anymore. And i will forever remember him saying to me “Steph, if you like you can turn around and come home. But i think you’ll really regret it if you dont at least try” and he convinced me to just take it one day at a time. He told me, to at least give it a week. And the next week, turned out to be the best damn week i’ve ever had.

I think its the fact that i pushed myself when my anxiety was telling me to give up… that gave me such a special connection to this place.

As soon as i set my feet down on icelandic soil, i knew i was in the right place.

It was over the next few days, that i fell in love.

I set off from Reykjavik and began exploring the south coast – undeniably one of the most magical places you will ever see. Around every corner you turn, there is a magnificent cascading waterfall, or a glacier, or a field full of horses running wild and free.

Its no wonder i became so enchanted by this country.

I have often felt as if iceland is the earth expressing itself in the most raw way. You have all of this untouched wilderness, and with the bubbling hot springs and waterfalls the whole country just feels so alive.

This whole week i spent in iceland, felt like it was just me and the earth. I felt this amazing connection that i still cant exactly put into words, but essentially (at the risk of sounding cliche) i feel like i found my soul in Iceland.

Anyway, Thank you for reading – and now you have the answer to the question that I get asked all the time “Why Iceland?”

Its interesting, how at home you can feel in a country that you’ve never even set foot in before.

Do you have a special place that feels like home? Share with me in the comments below!

All images found on this blog have been shot & edited by Steph Gaul

How it all began

I first picked up a camera at the age of 10, and havent really put one down ever since.

Growing up on a tiny island off the coast of Vancouver Island, Canada, gave me such a keen sense of adventure, and an immense love for nature. For as long as i can remember, I’ve been infatuated by waterfalls, glaciers, volcanos, beaches, you name it. (No wonder i fell in love with Iceland so much)

I feel the most inspiration when I’m outdoors. Which is why shooting landscapes gets me so thrilled.

That being said, i also love photographing people.
I love getting to know new people and learning about their stories.

Photography, travelling and writing are of my favourite things in the world. Being able to combine these 3 aspects of my life gives me nothing but joy.

Anyway – i am tired of talking about my self. But id love to get to know you.

If you read all of this, I’m glad you’re here.
Now let me know, what inspires YOU?

All images found on this blog have been shot & edited by Steph Gaul