It’s hard to summarize a year in only 20 best moments of 2016 as so much has happened and changed.
This past year has been both challenging and amazing. Hard work has paid off and the freedom to jump on new opportunities as a freelance digital media content creator has allowed for some pretty epic adventures.
I was excited to cross off so many giant bucket list items from my list. And it may have been my most successful travel year yet, visiting more than 15 countries.
Reviewing this list after I wrote it, I realized that some of my favourite memories this year were the ones that challenged me the most and pushed my limits.
In no particular order, here are my top 20 best moments from the past year.
1. Winning $10,000 in the King’s Race: Saskatchewan
It was some of the most mentally challenging days of my year, but I manage to compete to the best of my ability to win $10,000 from Rosetown Mainline. In an Amazing Race style competition, my friend Mitch and I travelled across Saskatchewan competing against four other teams to be the first to cross the final finish line. If I have grey hair now, it’s most likely from this competition.
2. Diving Silfra, the continental divide in Iceland
It cost more than a quarter of my monthly budget, but money comes second to the value of incredible experiences. Particularly when it’s something I am so passionate about like scuba diving. Being able to be underwater with views up to 100 metres while touching both the North American and Eurasian continental plates was everything I could have dreamed.
3. Completing the 120km Boreal Trail Trek on my own
It was challenging carting a 50 pound bag 120km across the Boreal Trail on my own in Meadow Lake Provincial Park. But it was worth every step. The best challenges are the ones that push your limits and the Boreal Trail was very intimidating. Running into six bears, and an angry beaver and aggressive skunk just added to the drama of the hike. But this might be my favourite challenge of 2016 that I accomplished.
4. Hiking the West Coast Trail with Two Girlfriends
After completing the Boreal Trail only the week before, I repacked my gear and flew west to join two girlfriends on what may have been my favourite trek I’ve ever done. The best part was sharing it with two people who are equally as passionate about travel and trekking as I am.
5. Leaving on a cruise to my 7th and final continent in Antarctica before the age of 30
Technically I won’t step on my final continent until January but I will be Antarctica bound before the end of the month. This is one of the biggest life goals I have ever set for myself. The reality that it’s actually coming true has hardly sunk in! Only when I finally set sail will it truly feel like it’s happening
6. Winning a Permit to Hike The Wave in Arizona
A little luck and persistence were on my side when I spent three days trying for one of only 10 permits to hike The Wave in northern Arizona. On the third day, my number was pulled first and I jumped around in the parking lot afterwards in excitement to see such a beautiful natural wonder.
7. Visiting the Perito Moreno Glacier in Argentina
Most of my inspiration for travelling comes from seeing photographs over the years. The Perito Moreno Glacier in Argentinian Patagoina was one of those I needed to see in person. And it didn’t disappoint. The 75 metre tall (120 metre deep) slab of moving ice was even more spectacular in person. I splurged and decided to strap on some crampons and spend over 3 hours hiking on it. I could have sat watching chunks of ice drop off the vertical ice face all day.
8. Travelling to more than 50 Countries
This summer I stepped foot on my 50th country, a challenge I was hoping to accomplish by the age of 30. The best part was being able to celebrate it with my mom who joined me for a month of travel in Europe this summer.
9. Participating and winning NaNoWriMo by completing more than 50,000 words in 30 days
It was hard. So hard. There were so many days in the month of November that I just didn’t want to or didn’t feel inspired to write. But that was part of the challenge. To really put time and effort into putting words on the computer screen. By the end of November I had completed the challenge of 50,000 words in 30 days towards my first book. Editing it all will be my next challenge
10. Going on a luxury cruise on the Danube
I was very thankful to join the teams at WestWorld Tours, CAA Saskatchewan and AMA Waterways on a luxury cruise on Europe’s second largest river. An experience like I’ve never had before made for some pretty special lasting memories.
11. Cruising the Mediterranean with MDFV through Turkey and Greece and taking my Mom with me
On board to shoot some promotional video for the fitness cruise company, I was so excited to take my mom along for the two week cruise in the Mediterranean. Cindy and her crew were such great hosts along the way. Not to mention the amazing boutique shopping on the all the Greek Islands and all the cats!
12. Hot Air Ballooning with Family in Cappadocia, Turkey
On the same trip as the Mediterranean cruise, I was able to travel with two of my brothers and my mom to Turkey. Visiting the surreal landscape of Cappadocia, we went on a sunrise hot air balloon ride over the fairy chimneys.
13. Taking a white water canoeing course with the Prairie Summit Shop
It’s something I always wanted to do but also something that scared me. This summer I signed up with the Prairie Summit Shop to learn some new skills about moving water and navigating it in a canoe. Geoff and the crew from the PSS were so great to spend the weekend with and I came away a much more confident and skilled paddler. The next question is when will I be taking my next level course?!
14. Writing for travel magazines and newspapers in Canada about some of my favourite adventures
My dream of officially becoming a writer came true as I wrote for several Canadian travel magazines and landed my own travel column in Pink Magazine. I also had a few pieces in the local newspaper as well as blogs for Tourism Regina and a piece in the Tourism Saskatoon 2017 city guide. It’s always scary to pitch a story, but it pays off to reach out to people.
15. Roadtripping across Chile with my Mom and Dad
Travel for me is best experienced when I get to share it with the people I love in my life. Having my mom and dad meet me in Chile for two weeks was more than I could have asked for. We cruised across the Atacama Desert, through Chile’s vast wine region and even plane hopped over to Easter Island. The memories I made on this trip with the two people I love most in life are priceless.
16. Hiking and travelling across Patagonia
It was a goal I was hoping to share with a loved one, but sometimes you can’t say no to the opportunity when it arises right in front of you. I was able to spend more than three weeks travelling through the Patagonia region of Chile and Argentina. I hiked through incredible mountain-scapes, walked across glaciers and visited marble caves – all while meeting some beautiful people from all around the world to share the experience with.
17. Travelling to the most remote inhabited island in the world to Easter Island (with my parents)
A bucket list item for not only myself but my mom as well, I visited Easter Island for five days with my mom and dad. We travelled the entire island learning all the intriguing history on the giant Moai statues. A big highlight was watching the sunrise over 15 restored Moai.
18. Spending the night with friends watching the Northern Lights just outside my home city
It’s something I’m passionate about as very few people in the world have seen them. The best part is throwing in a pile of blankets, hot chocolate with a dash of Bailey’s and some of my favourite people to go adventuring and watch the northern lights dance across Saskatchewan’s skies.
19. Roadtripping through Arizona and Utah
Bryce Canyon, Zion National Park, the Grand Canyon. Those are just a few of the reasons I couldn’t help but add a road trip through Arizona and Utah to this list. Combine it with the fact that I got to roadtrip with a very good friend of mine and it was my favourite way to travel.
20. Spending time at home with family and friends
Being on the road isn’t always easy. I often miss birthdays, celebrations and time spent with friends and family. Which is why I was so happy and lucky to spend some wonderful days back at home in Saskatchewan hanging out with the people I love most.
2016 was so amazing and it will be difficult to top in 2017. But I’m also excited to see where the new year will take me, how I will grow and change and what I will learn!