This summer was full of exciting things all around, including the wedding of the lovely Charlotte & Andy! Charlotte’s a dear friend, so it was a huge honour to photograph their special (and beautiful!) day, and we had a blast taking wedding party photos at the Ulster Folk and Transport Museum – so many fun places to shoot! Enjoy a sampling of their joy-filled day!

  

  

  

It’s been an exciting few weeks with lots of mini-adventures and new design endeavours, so I wanted to take a minute and fill you in on what this summer is shaping up to look like!

I suppose the big thing is that I’m kind of relocating to Chile on Wednesday…
Bet you didn’t see that one coming!

I’m pretty excited to say that I’ll be headed to Santiago to spend at least a few months working with the folks at Only Bloody Human. They are in the process of making some pretty rad interactive adventure films, and I’ll be jumping in and helping out with the visual side of things, which is pretty exciting! I’m sure there’s a lot more that could be said about that, but in honour of keeping things simple, I’ll just say I literally couldn’t be more excited, and look forward to exciting adventures in design! (Also, did I mention that means I’m going to Chile??)

I’ll also be working with Rustic Pathways for a few weeks later this summer, doing photography, videography, and guiding for high school students in their Spain programs (including a stint on the coast and in the Pyranees!). If you know about my interest in adventure-based learning, you’ll understand why I’m pretty excited about this opportunity as well! (Creo que necesito a practicar mi espaƱol mucho! Tal vez a hablar con fluidez al fin???)

Spain will be followed closely by a 12,500ft trek up Western Europe’s tallest Mont Blanc, with a handful of friends from Belfast! Some of which also happen to be the folks at C2SummitAdventures, whom I also happen to be partnering with and selling a couple prints in their online shop (shameless plug?)! So give them some love and pop over and check out some lovely photos in their new shop (including the one below, from Mt. Blanc, by Steven Carmichael!).

And in other news, in case you missed it, I’m honoured to have been asked to contribute an article about last year’s Yukon Quest adventure to Sidetracked Magazine – have a read here if you’re interested and/or want to see some cute dogs!

So there you have it – looking forward to a summer of challenges, opportunities, adventures, and endless creativity!

#Epic2013

We set out on a mission: three people, three countries, one day of adventure.

Because who says you can’t adventure with friends even though they live on other continents? The idea was simple: we each pick a place nearby and go on a microadventure at the same time. Fellow adventurers Steven (check out his microadventure recap here) and Emma would simultaneously explore in England and Northern Ireland, respectively, and I was off to the Superstition Mountains, a nearby mountain range, locally known for its gold-filled folklore. The plan was to hike to the highest point, Flat Iron, and camp for the night.

Running a little late, I set out just before sunset and raced the light up the mountain. The sunset made the mountains seem almost golden, and eventually there was just enough light left in the sky to make out the jagged silhouette of the mountain ridge below. Ultimately, the last half of the hike was completed by the light of my headlamp.

Hiking by a single light source at night was an interesting experience. I could only see what was right in front of me, forcing me to focus solely on the next step. About a mile in, the trail slowly opened into a canyon, and the path turned into a solid series of incresingly vertical boulders leading the way to the top. Everything seemed so much more tedious at night, especially with the increasing presence of slippery ice and snow left as a result of the freak cold-front we’d had earlier in the week.

At one point, I heard a faint shuffle ahead and looked up, revealing a pair of tiny, beady eyes staring back at me, with a super long, striped tail flicking behind them. While I’m sure it was only seconds, it felt like minutes before the eyes vanished and the mysterious creature darted up the mountain ahead of me. If I’m honest, after the fourth encounter (and in a moment of weakness) I wondered if I’d actually lost the trail and was about to wander into the lair of these mysterious fluffy-tailed creatures, never to be seen again.*

Thankfully that wasn’t the case, and eventually the full moon cleared the peak of the Superstitions causing a faint glow of light to fall over the path for the remaining trek. The last ten feet to the top was almost completely vertical, so I hurled my pack over and pulled myself up after it.

Alas, I’d made it. As I heard something howl in the distance, I picked out a spot and set up my tent for the night. Enjoying a cup of tea while admiring the gorgeous view of the glowing valley below (which I could see through the opening of my tent), was definitely a highlight!

With wind bursts up to 40mph throughout the night, perhaps camping on the edge of the highest point wasn’t the brightest of plans, but it sure was exhilerating. The wind was blowing so hard it was distorting the tent, eventually popping the tent poles out of alignment twice in the middle of the night. I resorted to weighting down the edges with giant rocks, which weren’t super helpful in the end, but I didn’t blow over the edge so I guess they did their job.

The wind didn’t let up all night, but I slept surprisingly well, waking up to the much-welcomed warmth of the morning sun; the desert sure is beautiful in the morning! 9am was the scheduled time for simultaneous cooking and conversation with Emma & Steven, but of course, the one flaw in our plan was the lack of signal – too hardcore for 3G! I rocked out my classy camping meal of pasta and broccoli for breakfast anyway, and it was rather delicious, if I may say so myself.

  

After admiring the view a bit longer, I packed up (nearly losing the tent to the wind yet again), and headed back down.

I must’ve passed a dozen people on the way down who were shocked that I’d camped alone at the top, and I’m not sure if it’s because of the fact that I was camping alone or because I’m a girl (or both), but I guess that proves why adventure is such a special thing. It’s such a change from the norm, diving into something unexpected and challenging to experience something new and beautiful. Even if you think it’s crazy, that probably just means it’ll be that much more rewarding.

All in all, my little trek had all the components of a lovely microadventure – looking forward to the next!

*I later consulted Google, which revealed that the ‘mysterious creature’ was a not-so vicious Coati, often kept as pets and able to be litter-trained… Seems a lot less dramatic in retrospect!

I think the cold got to us a bit at Zion.

Maybe camping in below-freezing weather with a fireball-spitting heater does something to the brain… I don’t know. Regardless, we took advantage of the side effects of the frigid weather, and had an immense amount of fun at the expense of the giant icicles that had formed on the walls along the trail we hiked. Icicle walruses – how could we resist, really? (There were also icicle unicorns and wolverine re-enactments… so many possibilities!)

Zion in the winter seems like a completely different place. Bright blue skies were replaced with a constant threat of snow and instead of people everywhere you turn, I think we saw a total of maybe a dozen others. So silent. Yet somehow in its emptiness, the stark contrast of the giant red walls and the bright white of the snow combine to make it stunning in its own way. It’s an almost eerie kind of beauty.

The night we arrived there was a full moon – the crazy bright kind that casts scarily definitive shadows at 2am. It’s such a strange thing to look up and see the mountains almost as bright as the stars. So, despite it being quite a bit below freezing, we stocked up on tea and I took another crack at star trails. There were some interesting results with the gorgeously odd lighting, but I think my favourite part was how the longer we sat in the dark, the brighter the stars seemed to shine – I love how that works!

  

Somewhat begrudgingly we decided climbing was out of the picture since everything was coated in a layer of snow or ice (or both), so instead we planned to conquer a surely stunning sunrise hike…for which we overslept and missed sunrise. Oops. Even so, the view was still beautiful! It even started snowing just as we were getting to the top, which was pretty stunning!

From there, we slid back down the trail, raced the snow-storm out of Zion, and headed onwards to the Grand Canyon…