andrea ference

storyteller | memory maker 🇨🇦

457 posts 145,567 followers 232 following

I don’t know if I have ever fallen so hard so fast for a mountain range. My time in the Dolomites wasn’t near long enough - I don’t know if a lifetime here would be long enough though. I am sitting the the airport waiting for another flight to meet up with @michaelmatti and explore another alpine town, after a few weeks hiding out at home I am more than ready for this week with good friends running around the mountains. I am curious, what is your favourite winter activity?


I took this photo on one of my first visits to this place - completely enamoured by its beauty. I dreamt of climbing to the top of that mountain and then swimming in the water below and so a few short months I did just that. There are a few places that seem to never lose their magic no matter how many times I see them and this is definitely one.


Winters in the Rockies are unpredictable - on this morning our plan was to wake up at an ungodly hour and watch the sunrise from the top of a mountain. At 3am my alarm went off - I checked my weather apps from bed and then the avalanche report - my screen lit up red, which meant the alpine was a no-go. I rolled out of bed, packed my #WoodsExplorer Moraine Jacket from @sportchek and headed out the door - @ryanclenett and I drove to Canmore for a cup of coffee and sat down figuring out an alternate plan. Not our Plan-A but nonetheless another magical morning in the Rockies. #MyBetter #ad And for those ever-changing plans check out the Moraine Jacket via the link in my bio.



I spent today working at one of my favourite places to escape, with internet barely strong enough to send a text - at least an hour drive from a cell phone signal, my only disruptions were a fire that needed stoking and a coffeecup that kept running low. I like to think that I spend a lot of time alone, that when I am home I focus on recharging my batteries. But living in a city I don’t know if that is always the case; I wake up and practice yoga with a few dozen people, I have coffee with my neighbours and then spend the day on my computer - intermittently conversations pop up on my phone screen and the man who lives above me has been playing the same song on repeat for two weeks (should I go up and make sure he’s alive?). I came to the mountains this week to find some grounding before my next trip. Yesterday was uncomfortable, I had forgot the feeling of silence. So today I hopped in the car and drove, somehow I ended up here, in a corner beside a familiar fire. For those of you who have been following me for a little - this place once considered me a regular but time got away from me and somehow the last time I was here was a few months ago; @ryanclennett and I had just finished hiking to this vantage point, its trailhead only a few hundred meters away from where I am sitting. I think my intention for 2018 may be to find more days like today - what about you?


It was cold, I crawled out of my sleeping bag to frosted car windows (the really glamorous parts of road trips) before the sun rose, I wanted to watch the alpenglow cascade across the Sawtooth Mountains from this idyllic vantage point. Everything was working in our favour, the water was hot and the river babbled a few feet away, we watched blue hour on the mountains but unfortunately the fog had other plans. Just as the sun was to crest the horizon the mountains were gone not to be seen again on this trip. Perhaps if I had my perfect morning the burning desire to return to this place would have never gotten to the point it is, perhaps its a blessing in disguise… but I honestly can’t wait to return to the little town of Stanley, climb some of those mountains and have my sunrise.


I think that playing hooky is one of the most underrated forms of therapy. @ryanclennett and I skipped out all of on our responsibilities for a day at in late spring. We watched the alpenglow on the ten peaks, climbed a mountain and didn’t take anything too seriously. I fell in love with this view and promised I would be back before the season’s end - I would set up a tent and spend the night under the stars. The season came and went, instead of campfires on mountaintops and pesky squirrels that steal snacks this lake is just about ready for hunting bubbles frozen between layers of ice.



‘Rest is important for your winter health, hibernating* bears know this instinctively.’
Earlier this week I was laying in bed about to fall asleep when I looked at my clock and realized that it was only 6pm. It was dark and I was tired... The next morning in yoga our teacher was talking about how the ancient Chinese believed that humans should live in harmony with the natural cycles of their environment. How the cold and darkness of winter urges us to slow down. It got me to thinking about how true this is, and how as a westerner I am guilty of fighting it tooth and nail. This trip to Italy with @michaelmatti in June we slept maybe three or four hours a night and never felt tired. The sun had us up early and out late running around the mountains. Today the sun was out for just over 8 hours, two thirds of the day was spent in darkness and apparently my body is taking full advantage of this time to take a sep back, rest and catch up on the sleep lost in those sunny months of summer. And on that note, I’m going to bed.
*bears do not actually hibernate, instead, they go into torpor


After completing my first winter hike in the Rockies I am ready to admit that the weather is changing and it may be time to put my summer gear into storage. At -25C with winds over 35km/h I ended up in snow as deep as my hips, thankfully I brought along my #WoodsExplorer jacket from @sportchek and with the right gear and a few cups of coffee the cold and lack of visibility didn’t really matter. #MyBetter #ad
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ps - I know a few of you guys asked about the jacket from my stories so check it out via the link in my bio


I’m curious, what is on the top of your (travel) bucket list right now? I was fortunate enough to knock the top two off of mine this summer and need some suggestions!
My top beach bucket list place for years was the Maldives - never in a million years did I think I would be able to visit these islands (and they were every but as amazing as I had imagined!). Check out the link in my bio to see more of my trip with @dennisstever and!



I didn’t know what a Chinook was until I spent a few winters longing for them from University on the East Coast. Over the past few days in Calgary the temperature has increased by over 30°C - and contrary to some celebrity beliefs it’s not global warming. But it IS one of my most favourite things. For those of you who aren’t familiar with the phenomenon, “Chinooks are warm, dry, gusty, westerly winds that blow down the Rocky Mountains into the mountains' eastern slopes and the western prairies. The chinook, a native word meaning "snow eater," belongs to a family of winds experienced in many parts of the world where long mountain chains lie more or less at right angles to the prevailing wind. Examples include the foehn in Europe, the zonda in Argentina and the berg in South Africa. The temperature rise at the onset of the event is abrupt and steep; an increase of 27°C in 2 minutes has been observed.” (Thank you ⠀ ⠀
This week’s warm weather had me wandering around the city in flip flops dreaming about mornings like this one in the North Cascades sipping coffee, watching the sun rise and hoping that @michaelmatti would pack up camp if I lallygagged long enough (he didn’t).


We had our thanksgiving up in Canada a few months ago - the lakes were open and sunrise canoe rides with @marisaanderson and @tashwood were my favourite way to spend a Saturday morning. But any chance to reflect on the past year filled with big changes, amazing adventures and the most supportive friends and family anyone could ask for… I’ll take it. Happy (American) thanksgiving! Say yes to that second piece of pie for me!


I was on the road nearly all of this year - I told myself that it was okay because in 2016 I made a point of spending all but three weeks in Alberta/BC. But when September hit and I had not seen hardly any of my most favourite places in the world I panicked. I called @ryanclennett and told him all of the things left on my to-do list. The snow was already starting to fall so we were running out of time. We didn’t have time for everything and the first on the list was this 40km+ day, it was fuelled by ramen noodles, instant coffee and dad jokes… I ended this day with achilles tendonitis and the rest of my must-see list was left untouched. But whats amazing about all of those places that i love is that they are waiting under a blanket of snow for me to visit next summer, and the summer after, and even the summer after that.



I could try to write something deep and meaningful and profound. But instead... tonight I am going to spend some time dreaming about summer nights, beautiful sunsets and full moons. Nights spent running down mountains under a blanket of stars, the only sound, our laughter echoing over the water.


Living in the sunniest city in Canada more mornings than not the light reflecting in my morning coffee is somewhere in-between the colours of cotton candy and a crimson red. It’s time on the road that makes you really appreciate what you have at home, after a snowy/rainy/foggy two weeks away my first morning back the sky lit up to one of the most beautiful sunrises. From one of the most unexpected mornings in the mountains, a coffee and baileys in one hand sitting on the edge of the water - this was just a afterthought, a quick stop on the way to wherever we we going...


Often asked what my winter activity is I can confidently say now that it is avoiding the cold at all costs. I don’t think it’s ever been a conscious decision - this year at the first sign of turning weather I hopped on a plane to the west coast and ended up taking a route home that happened to take two weeks and include two countries, three states, two provinces, well over 3,500km and an abundance of hot springs - check out the link in my bio for all of the details (map, locations and hot spring rating included).
Let me know which one you would want to visit the most!



No words made such a reoccurrence over the past few weeks as these: “No man ever steps in the same river twice, for it's not the same river and he's not the same man.” Maybe it is because I spent the shoulder season avoiding avi terrain by trading mountaintops for waterfalls and heated pools of water or maybe it is because I knew that this adventure would change me. But every time I unlock my front door after time on the road it feels something like coming back to your hometown after being away at university... somehow both everything and nothing are quite how I left them.


I made it home, it’s been two weeks, well over 2,000 miles, a dozen or so hot springs and a few failed attempts at sleeping in a fire lookout. I think this has been one of those experiences that will stick with me forever. Hopping in a car with someone I had only known for a few hours, set up with a loose itinerary and a vague timeline. After this immersion of time I’ve gotten to know @bruinexander pretty well - but what’s surprised me more is how our conversations have taught us things we didn’t know (and maybe didn’t want to know) about ourselves. I’m not sure if this trip felt more like three days or seven weeks... but isn’t that just the sign of time well spent?


It’s been a little while since I’ve seen the inside of my house. A few weeks ago I found a gap in my schedule and some cheap flights to Vancouver... so I asked @bruinalexander how he would feel about a visitor for a few days. Well a few days turned into a few weeks and a visit turned onto an international road trip with the sole mission of hunting hot springs. We are just over half way and seven hot springs into the adventure but I can’t help but to think that my favourite dip might actually be the first... this glacial lake that provided a very speedy wake up after a chilly night camping along the shoreline.



Not everything has the luxury of being planned, that’s one of the tough lessons I’ve had to learn on my journey - embracing the discomfort of the unknown. We drove 87km down a sad dirt road to find a set of warm pools along the river, it was bumpy, we had no idea where or how far the road would take us and my patience was tested a few times. But upon arrival we knew it was worth it. I sat in the pools, playing my best goldilocks alternating between temperatures to find the one that was juuuuust right as @bruinalexander took photos, once I was satisfied with my decision I turned my back and coiled my hair away from the water and enjoyed the morning. Sometimes not planning means 174km (108 miles) of hardly kept roads to a hot bath on a cool morning. But I guess that’s the beauty of it all isn’t it?


After a few days on the Slovenian coast this was our first stop in Triglav National Park - it was the first time I’ve had to desaturate water to make it look less like the river of kool-aid that it appeared to be( don’t worry - I hopped down and taste test myself). My trip with @michaelmatti @jess.wandering and @itsbigben to @feelslovenia is up in my blog (link in my bio) - I promise the photos alone are worth checking it out.


I am currently on a plane over the Rockies on my way back to Vancouver. It’s hard to not think of my last trip here, things weren’t working out the way they were supposed to - I flew out to visit my best friend after not seeing one another for a few years but instead we were forced with the reality that we had long since outgrown our friendship. It was not the easiest realization to make and I was pretty bummed out. But on my last night before flying home @joelschat (whom I had only ever met through a series of DMs) invited me on this hike for sunset I jumped on the chance to turn the trip around. He showed up with Tacofino in tow and I knew we were going to be fast friends. We hiked to this point just in time for sunset, along the way we may up with a group of gems from the area, the light grew low and the stars began to emerge yet the conversation flowed freely. We stayed up far later than we had anticipated, there is something special about warm evenings in the early season that draw you in, keep you wanting more.


This week’s Chinook proved to me that all hope may not be lost for autumn in Alberta. But just in case, we snuck out to the mountains last weekend, commandeered a canoe held haphazardly together by duct tape and went for one last paddle before the cold weather settles in and its months before we see all of my favourite lakes show their true colours again.
#DoingThings @OutdoorVoices #ad
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Two and a half years ago I went on my first backpacking trip to the bottom of the Grand Canyon. Nearly two years to the date I went back, this time to Havasupai, to celebrate big changes and big accomplishments with an inspiring group of women. I wrote all about my decision to quit my corporate job and see a little more of the world in my blog today, check it out!
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📷 - @elisabethontheroad


Every once and a while I read something or hear murmurs and wonder if I should be clicking the shutter button on my camera more often. And then I look at images like this and am brought back to how much I love collaborating with other people. I started this day in a tent, then proceeded to jump in an alpine lake, climb Aasgard Pass, set up camp and when @michaelmatti asked who wanted to hit sunset on a summit I jumped at the occasion. We made it to the summit where the wind was cold and strong, we hid from the elements until the light grew softer and we began shooting. I was just around the corner from this point when I needed a reprise from the cold. We crouched behind some rocks and from where I sat I saw this…I picked up my camera, hit the shutter button and leaned over toward Michael, after the better part of a year travelling together he didn’t even need to look at the the back of my camera to know what saw. I bolted out of the protection and perched myself in place as he dialled in his settings. I sat here as long as I could stand the cold praying that it looked as good as I had imagined. It did, and there is no way that either of us could have captured this alone. If he hadn’t suggested the summit, if the wind wasn’t so cold as needed to hide, if I didn’t find myself in that exact spot, if he wasn’t an amazing photographer, if I didn’t sit out there just right (I also can’t imagine I would have laughed as hard as I did if I were sitting up here freezing my ass off alone.)… Its one of my favourite things about this platform - working together to solve a problem. So thank you for capturing my vision better than I ever could have @michaelmatti, but even more so thank you for never making me question the number of times my shutter button clicks. #teamworkmakesthedreamwork


I stood here and answered to myself a familiar question, “when was the last time you did something for the first time?” - wandering around the desert in Dubai was never on my bucket list. I flew across the world to see some friends from University, it was to be a layover between trips. How was I supposed to know that I would fall in love with this part of the world, be enamoured by it’s vastness, its beauty. I thought of this moment last night, I was taking care of my 8-month old nephew, we were watching my dad install a TV mount in my condo and Theo heard the sound of the power drill. I could feel him jump in my arms, he turned around and was so curious, a noise he had never heard before. And it made me realize how lucky babies are, that for the foreseeable future those moments, that feeling, will happen almost daily.
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📷 (and adventure)- @dennisstever


Some mornings are for climbing mountains, some are for sitting in bed watching Netflix and drinking coffee, this one started with a 5am wakeup for a girls trip to Emerald Lake with @tashwood and @marisaanderson. We paddled around the lake for hours taking photos and laughing as water slowly seeped in. There wasn’t really any conversation about careers or family or the everyday stresses we face. We each needed this break from real life for different reasons and it didn’t matter what they were, for a morning we were able to just be three girls from a small town in a sinking canoe.
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📷 - @rockin_a_photo


Sometimes going out on a limb is a little bit scary. Today I launched my website (sorry for the spamming for everyone who saw my story) - and I am terrified. I have always kept journals of my adventures - pages filled with weird shorthand notes of funny things that happened and lists of what I forgot to bring and what I carried all that way but didn’t need. This habit started when I was marathon training - every morning I would get ready for my run and have no idea what to wear - so I would go (and inevitably freeze my ass off or sweat buckets), upon my arrival home I would jot down the temperature/wind/humidity and what I wish I wore. It helped. Getting into hiking and backpacking that crossed over and expanded - and then my community asked me questions… questions I knew I could answer but didn’t know how. And thus began my website, a space to try and answer those questions, a place to share my stories. I am shocked and humbled by the response I have received in the past few hours and can’t wait to share more. (Oh, and shameless self promotion - if you haven’t checked it out you can hear all about this photo by clicking the link in my bio.)
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📷 - @ryanclennett


After nearly a month of doctor ordered (and sometimes ignored) bedrest I was finally cleared to run earlier this week. I figured as a marathoner it would be easy to run the 10km roundtrip to yoga Wednesday morning… boy was I wrong. I woke up Thursday to aches and pains I don’t recall ever experiencing - my body felt foreign to me. So I rested all day and tried again last night, I ran my favourite hill, and of course this morning I was sore, sore and frustrated with myself. Isn’t it crazy how quickly we lose our muscle memory? How after a winter on the snow your first day back hiking is likely one of the hardest of the season(and vice versa)? This photo was the sunrise after I injured my achilles - @ryanclennett and I were supposed to do our last guaranteed summit before the snow came, but I wasn’t able to put weight on my left foot without looking like Bambi. So we shifted gears, borrowed some coffee, made new friends and watched the sun rise over Emerald Lake.


One of the things I have been working on this year is learning to say no (in the most Canadian of fashions I was raised to believe that politeness trumps(almost) all else). But more specifically, learning to say no so that when an opportunity that makes you want to yell “F yes!” presents it’s self you have the space to do it. I am going to be honest, I have had a disproportionate number of those over the past several months (probably so many that I am out for the rest of my life) - and this trip was one of them. A few days the middle of the week spent in the backcountry with no cell phone reception and some of the most inspiring people… we stayed up way too late talking, watching the moonrise and the stars appear and a few short hours later beat the first sunlight on the mountain. We drank coffee, hiked through the larch trees and eventually took a swim in the lake. I ended the trip with an inflamed achilles, a tetanus shot, eight stitches in my big toe and not a single regret.
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📷 - @bruinalexander


We woke up at an ungodly hour on this morning to pouring rain, I protested leaving bed but was outvoted. So we drove high into the alpine, parked the car… and didn’t open a door for nearly an hour. It was our last morning in Italy and we were determined to find “the view” - eventually we layered up and made our way along the trail. As the rain began to let up a thick fog rolled in, we kept moving unable to see what was around us. (Very) slowly the fog began to dissipate and we were speechless, one of the most spectacular places I have ever laid eyes on began to reveal its self and we were in the middle of it. This morning I woke up in Nashville to pouring rain worried about a girl in a white dress but yet again... tonight under a starlit sky I watched the union of two of the most beautiful souls I have had the pleasure of meeting. Now is where I say something about rainbows after the rain and clouds with silver linings...but maybe it's all true, the best things require a little faith. ⠀ ⠀
📷 - @michaelmatti