Off Observe Journey’s Finest Adventures in 2023

And right here we’re, one other 12 months executed. With life feeling very regular once more, 2023 glided by in a flash for us.

The 12 months began with a bang once we booked flights to Japan (my dream journey vacation spot) on 2nd January. For the discount worth of $500 return from our native airport. Significantly!

The remainder of 2023 adopted from there, with some actually superb journey and outside journey experiences throughout Western Canada and past.

Although nonetheless based mostly in Penticton, British Columbia, we travelled far this 12 months. Most journeys have been work-oriented, although I used to be glad we additionally match some fully non-work associated adventures in there too!

This put up will share our memorable moments of 2023, of which there have been many!

Gemma and JR standing looking at each other on mountain trail in Kananaskis Valley, with large mountains vbehind
Backpacking within the Kananaskis Valley, Alberta (July)
Picture taken by Leigh McAdam, HikeBikeTravel

Beginning the winter in British Columbia

By the second day of January, we had already accomplished our first-ever Polar Bear Dip and secured these ridiculously low-cost flights.

Quick ahead to the tip of the month and it was time to re-visit one among our favorite native locations – Boundary Nation.

Highlights included snowshoeing to the standard Dacha (shelter), attending the Christina Lake Winterfest and watching the solar rise from Remark Mountain.

We additionally had the tough job of touring Grand Forks’ cafes and eating places to check Scorching Chocolate Competition entries.

Back view of JR standing with backpack and microspikes on snowy mountainside in front of city view, covered in snow at sunset
Dawn at Remark Mountain, Grand Forks, British Columbia (January)

Ending the winter in paradise – Fiji!

Again in July 2022, we secured low-cost winter flights to Fiji. Sure, low-cost flight offers actually did form this 12 months for us!

After an evening on Fiji’s mainland, we headed to the Yasawas, a sequence of small volcanic islands. Or in different phrases, paradise. Assume palm timber, golden sand seashores and vibrant coral reefs. And no large resorts.

We stayed on two totally different islands at two very totally different locations. The primary was owned by a Fijian household, the kindest and most welcoming individuals. We have been the one visitors for 5 straight days.

After per week, we moved onto the Blue Lagoon Resort, a bigger however nonetheless intimate property. Sadly, a cyclone moved in as properly and the latter few days of our journey have been characterised by excessive winds and waves.

It could have ended with unhealthy climate, however we actually beloved our time in Fiji. We snorkelled or dived virtually day by day and took the chance to fully change off from screens.

Water view of Blue Lagoon resort with calm ocean, loungers on beach and palm trees on shore
Blue Lagoon Resort, Fiji (February)

Exploring our yard

Spring was somewhat late in its arrival this 12 months, nevertheless it didn’t cease us from having fun with our favorite mountaineering season.

And in 2023, we determined to make Kelowna our focus. Whereas we’ve explored the Okanagan Valley fairly extensively, Kelowna has by no means actually appealed. I at all times figured it was too busy and too populated.

I used to be proved flawed by the many wonderful trails we discovered, together with Mount Boucherie, Goat’s Peak, Scenic Canyon, Kalamoir and Johns Household Nature Conservancy.

Sadly, it’s possible that the summer season wildfires broken or doubtlessly destroyed a few of our favorite trails similar to these round Rose Valley and Bear Creek.

Later in spring, we have been gifted the chance to discover extra of our yard when Lindsay from I’ve Been Bit Journey Weblog came visiting from Ontario.

I beloved taking part in tour information and we stored busy with kayaking, mountaineering, brewery touring and consuming ALL the meals!

Back view of Gemma hiking along dirt path above the city of Kelowna, which sits below next to Okanagan Lake. Snow capped mountains are visible in the background
Mountain climbing in Kelowna, British Columbia (March)

Athens and Kalamata, Greece

Appropriately guessing the following TBEX (Journey Weblog Alternate) Convention location earned us two free tickets and a complimentary resort keep at that very same convention. The vacation spot? Kalamata, Greece!

With a visit to my residence nation lengthy overdue, we determined to mix Greece and England into one late spring journey.

This was our second journey to Greece’s mainland, after first visiting on our large UK to Turkey street journey again in 2011.

We stopped in Athens for a number of days earlier than heading to the convention and I used to be pleasantly shocked to love town much more than I anticipated. Tremendous buzzy, wonderful meals (JR is now hooked on taramasalata) and Greek and Roman ruins seemingly in all places!

Kalamata turned out to be a cute coastal city on the base of a formidable mountain vary. Although greatest recognized for olives (which positive have been tasty), we have been extra impressed by the native seafood.

Selfie of Gemma and JR on hotel roof patio in Athens at sunset, with rocky Acropolis in the background
Sundown on our resort roof patio in Athens, Greece (Might)

Strolling the Northumberland Coast Path

On our approach again to Canada, we stopped over in England. Often visiting in winter, we have been excited to be there throughout a hotter month.

And a really heat month it was, with the solar shining day by day with temperatures hovering round 20c. It was an England I virtually didn’t recognise!

Our primary vacation spot for the journey was Northumberland, England’s most northern county (it sits slightly below the Scottish border). I’d chosen to stroll the 100km Northumberland Coast Path to stroll because it featured three castles proper on the route.

JR is each an enormous fort and ocean fan, so this appeared like an ideal match. And I used to be proper; mixed with the wonderful climate, this was a spectacular journey. I feel it could have ruined me for all future long-distance walks!

It meant quite a bit that we have been in a position to share the expertise with my mother and father. That they had by no means been to Northumberland both. Earlier than returning south, we additionally visited Newcastle and Durham.

JR stands with arms oustretched in front of medieval gate at Warkworth Castle on the Northumberland Coast Path
Visiting castles whereas strolling the Northumberland Coast Path, England (Might)

Mountain climbing and diving on Vancouver Island

We have been lucky to return to Vancouver Island this 12 months, one among our all-time favorite locations. And twice too!

The Juan de Fuca Path had been on my ‘to-do’ listing for years and but it nonetheless impressed me. Seaside tenting, large timber, the roar of the ocean…simply fantastic.

Consider the JDF because the West Coast Path‘s shorter, extra approachable southern cousin. I’d advocate mountaineering the route, or not less than some sections of it, whereas driving the Pacific Marine Circle Route.

On our first journey to the Island, JR was in a position to tick chilly water diving off his listing. He had needed to do that since we moved to BC (12 years in the past!) For sure, I feel he’ll be again within the water quickly.

We at all times make some extent to go to Campbell River and the Comox Valley once we’re on Vancouver Island and this 12 months, I believed it was about time to jot down about them too.

Looking east on rocky coastal beach on the Juan de Fuca Trail, with a hiker walking towards camera. The beach is bordered by forest to the left and ocean to the right
Mountain climbing the Juan de Fuca Path on Vancouver Island, British Columbia (June)

A foray into Alberta

In our 2022 round-up, I discussed that we have been hoping to spend extra time at residence through the summer season months this 12 months. And it occurred! We spent the vast majority of the summer season having fun with the new climate and the lakes in Penticton.

In late July, we headed out to Alberta to discover two distinctive communities – Alix and Stettler. It was enjoyable to return to this rural space and go to two new-to-us locations.

On the best way again, we managed to slot in a spectacular backpacking journey within the Rockies with our buddies from HikeBikeTravel. I had by no means heard of the Turbine Canyon Loop till this 12 months and but it now ranks extremely in our prime journeys.

Side view of Gemma with backpack hiking down steep partially forested slope into a valley with view of massive mountains in the background
Backpacking the Turbine Canyon Loop, Kananaskis Valley, Alberta (July)

Mountain climbing and paddling within the mountains

Our alpine adventures didn’t cease there, nevertheless. We additionally managed to slot in some day hikes in Glacier Nationwide Park and Kootenay Nationwide Park on the best way to and from Alberta, in addition to a brief paddling journey between Invermere and Radium.

The place I used to be most stoked to discover this summer season was Kokanee Glacier Provincial Park. This excessive alpine park, situated close to Nelson, at all times dropped off our precedence listing in earlier years. And I remorse that a lot!

I beloved the few days we spent right here, mountaineering the alpine and swimming within the lakes. We had the paths and campground all to ourselves.

In late September, I toured my mother and father across the Canadian Rockies. It was an unimaginable journey and I’m so glad that the timing was good for the autumn colors!

JR joined us for the primary a part of the journey after which headed residence to New Brunswick to see his circle of relatives.

JR sat on rock looking at camera, on top of Mount Giegerich summit in Kokanee Glacier Provincial Park - layers of mountains are visible behind him
Summiting Mount Giegerich in Kokanee Glacier Provincial Park (August)

Ending the 180km Sunshine Coast Path

The 2023 wildfire season was probably the most damaging in British Columbia’s recorded historical past. Whereas we have been very fortunate to not be personally affected, a few of our summer season plans went out the window.

When our Wells Grey paddling journey didn’t occur, we took the chance to complete the 180km Sunshine Coast Path.

We adopted the shore of expansive Lois Lake, climbed up Mount Troubridge (the very best level of the SCT, 1304m) and again all the way down to sea degree, with the previous few kilometres skirting the ocean. Alongside the best way, we stayed in two of the free huts – Golden Stanley and Wet Day Lake (a complete of 10 of 16!)

I used to be actually happy to lastly full this stunning path. We had hiked the center part in 2019 and probably the most northern part in 2022, so it was a very long time coming!

Back view of Gemma at Mount Troubridge summit, with views of ocean and islands below
Mountain climbing the Sunshine Coast Path, British Columbia (August)


In fact, I needed to end the journey portion of this round-up with Japan. As I discussed, it was prime of my dream journey vacation spot listing. Amazingly, my excessive expectations have been met and in addition exceeded!

We stored it easy, visiting Tokyo, Osaka and Kyoto. Neither of us are metropolis individuals in any respect however Japanese cities simply really feel totally different; the whole lot is ordered, individuals don’t rush round, and there isn’t a lot visitors.

Actually, our journey to Japan was one among our greatest journey experiences ever. Meals was a serious precedence for us and we tried so many alternative dishes – takoyaki, tempura, sushi, yakitori, kushikatsu, curry, ramen, sashimi, gyoza, udon, ekiben, mochi and extra. And amazingly, the whole lot was SO good!

Culturally, I beloved the combination of conventional and trendy. I’d return in a heartbeat. I’m undecided we’ll see $500 flights once more anytime quickly, nevertheless!

Front view of Gemma standing next to bamboo fence in bamboo forest, looking up at bamboo above
Bamboo forest in Kyoto, Japan

Private challenges

In 2023, I made a decision to push myself and get out of my consolation zone. I additionally needed to strive some new issues.

A few of my challenges have been small and enjoyable (flying a kite, making an attempt yoga once more) whereas others have been issues I had been laying aside for a very long time (dental surgical procedure, using a motorcycle once more).

Whereas in Fiji, I went scuba diving, not as soon as, however thrice (and loved it!) For me, this was fairly main. I had a nasty expertise getting my Open Water Certification in Thailand in 2019 and I wasn’t positive whether or not I’d ever strive once more.

One thing else I had been laying aside was getting licensed for kayaking. I hate falling into water and dreaded the thought of practising moist exits. When wildfires cancelled our summer season plans, I made a decision it was time to do it. We each handed!

In all probability my greatest private achievement of 2023 was operating a half marathon.

I ran my first timed 10k in Might and determined to purpose for one thing greater by the tip of the 12 months. Coaching is hard with our assorted schedule however I lastly managed it in late November!

Gemma and JR standing in winter coats in front of autumnal yellow tree with many leaves on the ground
We celebrated our twelfth anniversary of transferring to British Columbia in November

Extra enterprise success

Our enterprise continued to develop in 2023, with this 12 months being our greatest but. I nonetheless can’t imagine that we are able to totally help ourselves in a approach that we love.

We made an enormous enterprise resolution very early on within the 12 months to drop one revenue stream virtually solely, to keep up a greater work-life stability. It felt like a little bit of a dangerous transfer on the time.

Fortunately, I can report that it labored out for the very best. We could take one thing of a hybrid method subsequent 12 months, combining the very best of what we’ve discovered over the previous few years.

Trying to 2024

With the primary half of 2024 already deliberate out, I’m excited for the 12 months to begin.

Whereas the calendar seems busy, I feel we’ve organized it in such a approach that we’ve got a very good combine of labor and downtime.

Final 12 months, I hoped to spend extra time at residence through the summer season months. For probably the most half, that labored out and we’ve got deliberate an analogous schedule for 2024.

I at all times say it, but when the following 12 months is even half nearly as good as this one…I’ll be ecstatic.

Thanks a lot for the entire help and we’ll see you on the flipside (2024!)

Gemma and JR facing camera with arms out in front of spectacular basin view on Stanley Glacier Trail, with tall mountains all around
On the prime of the Stanley Glacier Path, Kootenay Nationwide Park, British Columbia (July)

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