Highlights of My Year (2012) in Photos

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It’s been an interesting year – marked by hard work, loads of North American travel and five photography courses. Throw in a huge new writing/travel/book project, plenty of house renovations, lots of house guests, a new city to navigate and quite frankly I’m a little pooped. But I’m also proud of the progress I’ve made and an upcoming three day cross country skiing escape should do much to rejuvenate my soul.

Here’s a look at the highlights of my year in photos.

We started the New Year off with a fabulous day of cross country skiing in Peter Lougheed Park in Kananaskis Country  just outside of Banff National Park. It was bloody cold but otherwise glorious.

"View from the top of Blueberry Hill in Kananskis Country"

View from the top of Blueberry Hill in Kananskis Country

That was to get us primed for a weekend ski trip to the rustic backcountry Skoki Lodge where Will and Kate (yes THE Will and Kate) spent a few nights just after they were married.

"Skoki Lodge under a cloudless night sky"

Skoki Lodge under a cloudless night sky

We made it through the month of January with our first ever dogsledding outing – great fun that left us wanting more.

"Blue eyed sled dogs"

Blue eyed sled dogs

By February I was ready to trade in our frigid days with Jack Frost covering the windows…..

"Jack Frost paying a visit in Calgary"

Jack Frost paying a visit in Calgary (shot using a macro lens)

for Arizona. I drove the Apache Trail – an incredible one day drive not far from Phoenix, hiked the Ramsey Canyon Preserve southeast of Tucson and checked out the wild west towns of Tombstone and Bisbee.

"Grand Canyon like views but it's Apache Lake in Arizona"

Grand Canyon like views but its Apache Lake in Arizona

"Cowboy driving a wagon in Tombstone, Arizona"

Cowboy driving a wagon in Tombstone, Arizona

March was mostly spent at home though we did manage a long weekend of cross country skiing at the incredibly situated Lake O’Hara Lodge.

"Cross country skiing around Lake O'Hara Lodge in Yoho NP"

Cross country skiing around Lake O’Hara Lodge in Yoho NP

The minute April hit we were out the door and on our way to check out the low country from St. Mary’s, through to Savannah and Charleston. Highlights included a visit to Okefenokee Swamp and a kayaking trip over to Cumberland Island.

"Savannah's haunting looking night sky"

Savannah’s haunting looking night sky

'Fishing for crocodiles in Okefenokee Swamp"

Fishing for crocodiles in Okefenokee Swamp

"The skinny wild horses of Cumberland Island"

The skinny wild horses of Cumberland Island

The bulk of April and May kept me busy with photography courses and house renovations. But by the end of May we had time for a long weekend of hiking in Elk Island National Park.

"Canoeists paddling in Elk Island National Park at sunset"

Canoeists paddling in Elk Island National Park at sunset

June was nuts. I had a very enjoyable houseboating trip on Shuswap Lake with Shuswap Tourism, followed immediately by a trip to Boulder, Colorado for a wedding. The month ended on a high note kayaking Maligne Lake in Jasper National Park.

"Quintessential Boulder Flatirons view"

Quintessential Boulder Flatirons view

"Turquoise coloured Maligne Lake in Jasper National Park"

Turquoise coloured Maligne Lake in Jasper National Park

July was also crazy. We had a houseful of guests around to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Calgary Stampede. That was followed by hiking weekends in the Rocky Mountains – with the Iceline Trail a total delight. Following that we were off to central British Columbia for two weeks of adventures; kayaking Murtle Lake, whitewater rafting the Clearwater River, hiking in the Rainbow Range and a memorable fly in visit to a remote backcountry lodge.

"The RCMP in the Musical Ride at the Calgary Stampede"

The RCMP in the Musical Ride at the Calgary Stampede

"Views of Takakkaw Falls from the Iceline Trail"

Views of Takakkaw Falls from the Iceline Trail

"Our private beach on Murtle Lake in Wells Gray"

Our private beach on Murtle Lake – at least for a few hours

"The multi coloured Rainbow Range of mountains in Tweedsmuir Provincial Park"

The multi coloured Rainbow Range of mountains in Tweedsmuir Provincial Park

"Canada's 3rd highest waterfalls - Hunlun Falls from the air"

Canada’s 3rd highest waterfalls – Hunlun Falls from the air

Within days of returning from our vacation I was off to hike with Travel Alberta to the precariously perched Abbott Pass Hut on the BC-Alberta border. Hiking 2000 feet of unstable scree slopes felt like an accomplishment!

"The view down to Lake Oesa from Abbott Pass hut"

The view down to Lake Oesa from Abbott Pass hut

The month of August ended with a three day hiking trip to Waterton Lakes National Park. All hikes we did were superlative but perhaps the Crypt Lake hike involving a ladder, a tunnel and chains was the most unusual.

"Heading for the tunnel on the Crypt Lake hike"

Heading for the tunnel on the Crypt Lake hike

September in Alberta was glorious. On one weekend we took my just turned 80 mother-in-law up to Cathedral Mountain Lodge in Yoho National Park. She still raves about the trip every time we speak. The easy hike around Emerald Lake was a pleasure for all of us.

"The unforgettable turquoise coloured Emerald Lake"

The unforgettable turquoise coloured Emerald Lake

On another September weekend we hiked to Taylor and O’Brien Lakes in Banff National park to catch the larches in all their fall glory.

"Taylor Lake surrounded by golden coloured larches"

Taylor Lake surrounded by golden coloured larches

I finished the month of September off with a quick trip to Grasslands National Park in Saskatchewan.

"Big skies in Grasslands National Park"

Big skies in Grasslands National Park

When October rolled around I made the time for a visit to Dinosaur Provincial Park before they shuttered their guided trips for the season. For a non-dinosaur lover I found the place fascinating.

"Fantastic shapes cause by erosion in Dinosaur Provincial Park"

Fantastic shapes cause by erosion in Dinosaur Provincial Park

Our last big trip together for the year was one to southwest Utah. We had a fabulous week of hiking in Bryce Canyon, the Grand Staircase -Escalante Wilderness and Kodachrome Basin State Park. But our day of canyoneering was one of the highlights of my life. Scary but very, very rewarding.

"Bryce Canyon country"

Bryce Canyon country

"The infinity pool at Upper Calf Creek Falls"

The infinity pool at Upper Calf Creek Falls

"Working our way through narrow slot canyons"

Working our way through narrow slot canyons

By the time we got home from Utah I had no further travel plans. But at the last minute I booked a flight to visit my friend Jo who lives in Miss Moneypenny’s retreat outside of Espanola, Ontario. We squeezed in a November hike at Misery Bay Provincial Park on Manitoulin Island too.

"Northern Ontario scene outside of Miss Moneypenny's retreat"

Northern Ontario scene outside of Miss Moneypenny’s retreat

I decided on one more jaunt – this time to Scottsdale, Arizona to visit my father just days before he turned 80; or at least that was the excuse. I got a dose of warm sunshine that will have to last me for many more months.

"Sunset over the desert outside of Scottsdale"

Sunset over the desert outside of Scottsdale

And now with mere hours left in the year John and I have one more weekend trip planned. Tomorrow we’re off for a two night stay at Chateau Lake Louise. We’ll cross country ski some new trails, skate on a frozen Lake Louise and perhaps even put our feet up for a few hours.

To all my regular readers – a big thank you for sticking with me through the year(s). And to my new readers a warm welcome. Please come back and visit regularly.

And I wish you all a VERY, VERY HAPPY, SAFE & HEALTHY NEW YEAR – in case this is the last post of 2012.

For more travel inspiration check out the photos of other travel bloggers on Nancie’s Budget Travelers Sandbox website every Thursday.

Which  if any of my adventures over the past year would you be interested in doing?

Leigh

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