Top Ten of 2017

With the closing of another calendar year, like many others, I've been reflecting on all the changes, growth, amazing encounters and wild adventures that occurred this past year.  This year has been one of the best yet and I am so grateful for everything that has come my way. Now looking ahead into 2018, I don't think we need the reason of a new calendar year to incorporate healthy changes, work towards new goals or plan to break old habits.  We're continually growing and changing and should strive to enhance our lives and the lives of those around us every single day - no matter what the time of year! 

That in mind, I do believe this time is great reminder to look back at the wonderful and not so wonderful experiences from the year and reflect on the lessons learnt.  After leaving home and taking on a grand adventure, this past year has proven to be the craziest, most challenging and adventurous year so far.  So below, I thought it would be fun to share some of my highlights from the past year. 

 

a list of SOMe of my top memories from 2017

1.  Finishing university and completing my Bachelor's Degree in Ecotourism & Outdoor Leadership.  Though I finished classes last December, didn't attend my convocation in the spring and technically haven't even seen or even held my degree, I did complete the program (you can ask my parents, haha).  The learning and insight, incredible friendships, travel and adventures were well worth the 3.5 years of hard work.  

2.  The decision to sell nearly all of my belongs, leave behind a comfortable life in Calgary and pursue bigger dreams and travel long term by bicycle with my partner, Brandon.  It was exciting and scary to start, but has lead us to some of our greatest adventures.

bike-tour-british-columbia
yukon-summer
cycle-tour

3.  Embarking on this 'daring adventure' only to flip over my handle bars, smash my face into the ground, be rushed to the hospital and end up right back where we started less than 48hrs after pedalling away from the house. The terrible bike accident turned into quite the humbling experience of what we were getting ourselves into.  (I'm so thankful we could begin again two weeks later, even if I still looked like a bruised peach).

bike-accident
bike-accident
bike-accident

4. Exploring absolutely breathtaking parts of my own country and being in complete awe of the majestic, pristine areas within Northern Canada. Even after travelling this whole year, I can't be more thankful to be from such a beautiful and wild country. 

 Photo by Brandon Hartwig

Photo by Brandon Hartwig

yukon-canada
 Photo by Brandon Hartwig

Photo by Brandon Hartwig

northern-canada
 Photo by Brandon Hartwig

Photo by Brandon Hartwig

5. Exploring Kamchatka, Russia and it turning into a complete shit show.  On a beautiful backpacking trip, while soaking in the natural hot springs late at night, we returned to our campsite after a bear had completely thrashed apart our tent and a huge portion of our gear.  Maybe not the best highlight or memory, but hey - it's funny now right? 

 Photo by Brandon Hartwig

Photo by Brandon Hartwig

kamchatka-bear-attack
 Photo by Brandon Hartwig

Photo by Brandon Hartwig

6.  Cycling the last original portion of the Road of Bones in Eastern Russia.  This section of our bike trip was probably the most epic part of our entire journey.  The remarkable natural landscapes, complete solitude, and challenge of this ride was well worth the effort. 

road-of-bones
 Photo by Brandon Hartwig

Photo by Brandon Hartwig

 Photo by Brandon Hartwig

Photo by Brandon Hartwig

road-of-bones
road-of-bones

7.  The people I met and connected with this year.  This may not be one specific event, but one massive combination of memories that made this year so special.  Kind strangers stopping us along the road, reconnecting with a close friend I met in Costa Rica, creating new family in Alaska, unbelievable hospitality with people all over Eastern Asia, endless 'selfies' with excited locals, keeping in close relations with loved one back home,  connecting with the few cyclists we met along the way, emails of encouragement from people we met on the road cheering us as we went, staying with amazing new and old friends, being invited to stay for food and to sleep in peoples homes we met only moments before, love and notes from back home... seriously, I can't even begin to scratch the surface of each encounter and what they have meant to me this past year.  There truly is so much goodness, light and love in the world.  Even while traveling, when it can feel lonely and isolated at times, I'm reminded of the people I've had the joy of connecting with this year and my heart bursts with gratitude.

 Photo by Brandon Hartwig

Photo by Brandon Hartwig

DSC03674.JPG
 Photo by Brandon Hartwig

Photo by Brandon Hartwig

 Photo by Brandon Hartwig

Photo by Brandon Hartwig

 Photo by Brandon Hartwig

Photo by Brandon Hartwig

eastern-russia
alaska-family
 Photo by Brandon Hartwig

Photo by Brandon Hartwig

 Photo by Brandon Hartwig

Photo by Brandon Hartwig

8. Brandon and I completing our +10,500 kilometre bike ride from Calgary to Japan, via Alaska, Russia, Mongolia and China.  Each country we cycled through came with its only stories, experiences, culture, memories and struggles. It still doesn't really sink in that we rode our bikes the entire distance to come to Japan.  It's weird, but also pretty cool.  

 Photo by Brandon Hartwig

Photo by Brandon Hartwig

DSC03594.JPG
mongolia-bike-travel
DSC04272.jpeg
cycling-russia
 Photo by Brandon Hartwig

Photo by Brandon Hartwig

9.  Moving to Hokkaido, Japan.   It's so beautiful here with the endless snow - over 6 meters already! We've had a chance to settle down for a little while, go out snowboarding, we're working again, are making amazing friends, I can cook in a kitchen again, and we've become part of a great community. I'm also helping out at the local yoga studio which been an incredible journey in itself. 

snowboarding-japan
hokkaido-christmas
mount-yotei
niseko-snowfall

10.  That leads me to my last note.  I think one of the biggest highlights from this year is the self growth and discovery I experienced in this time.  I made it a huge priority to be more intentional, reflective and mindful.  It can undoubtably be difficult at times, but I know I've learnt so much about what it is I want in life and that I have the ability to actually follow those desires.  Some major shifts in this past year that really stand out is my growing meditation and gratitude practice, diving deeper into holistic health, leading a life of adventure travel, living more sustainably and conscious and most recently diving deeper into yoga and going vegan! 

nature
 Photo by Brandon Hartwig

Photo by Brandon Hartwig

And let's throw in one more - because why not.

11. A huge joy for me this past year has been creating this website and blog.  This has been an incredible source for me to share my adventures, be more reflective of my own growth, stay in contact with loved ones, meet new people and also be an outlet for me to write and create.  I'm so grateful to have a place to open up and share my story with those who are willing to take the time and listen. 

While this blog has primarily been used as a way to document Brandon and I's bike journey, I am excited to see where it will go this coming year.  For awhile I was nervous to share more personal thoughts or other topics around meditation, self-discovery, holistic travel and wellness that truly excited me, but this coming year I want to express, create and share all the outdoor adventures, stories, passions and thoughts that are the most real for me. 

So thank you for being apart of my 2017!  I hope you have a joyful and healthy year ahead, a chance to reflect on this past year, and take some time to be present in this moment now.

xx. 

 

KARA FOLKERTSComment