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Off Track Travel’s Best Adventures in 2022

Another year, another round-up! As we all know, it’s been a weird couple of years. I’m SO happy to be able to say that 2022 felt almost completely ‘normal’ for us , minus those first couple of months.

I’ve always felt grateful to have my health, family, friends and the ability to work and travel as we do. The last few years (and I’m not only referring to the pandemic) have provided even more perspective on this privilege.

We stayed in Canada for the majority of the year from our home base in Penticton, BC. This was completely by choice – the travel opportunities in Canada are truly endless!

I really do love this country and it felt special to be able to explore from coast to coast again.

Without any further ado, here are our 2022 highlights!

JR and Gemma standing on bridge above partially frozen Spray River, with now capped mountain in background
Banff National Park, March

Finding adventure in winter

More than 10 years in Canada and winter is still a mixed bag for me. When we’re busy and active, I love it. But that initial push can be difficult. We spent most of the winter at home but finished the season with a flourish.

Back view of JR snowboarding down moderate slope surrounded snowy trees. Mountains can be seen in the background
Snowboarding at Silver Star Ski Resort, March

First, a winter sports focused week in Vernon with snowshoeing, cross country skiing, snowboarding and waterfall chasing. We love all four seasons in this small Okanagan town!

Our second adventure involved a 1700km round trip to mid Alberta and back, via Yoho National Park, the town of Banff, a zany ice golf tournament in Pigeon Lake, a short stop in Lacombe and a drive on the Icefields Parkway.

Huge half frozen waterfall cascading over rockface. Gemma stands at the bottom wearing a yellow jacket and taking a photo of the waterfall above
Wapta Falls, March

Revisiting some of our favourite places

The month of May started with a trip down memory lane. Way back in 2013, we set out to paddle the Sayward Forest Canoe Circuit, our very first multi-day backcountry adventure.

Nine years later, we thought we’d see how time had changed the Sayward Forest (and us!) The circuit was as beautiful as ever and the 9km of paddling and 8km of portaging were a lot easier this time. Experience and lighter gear makes all the difference!

Gemma and JR stand in jackets next to canoe on shore of lake on Sayward Forest Canoe Circuit
Finishing the Sayward Forest Canoe Circuit, May

On the same West Coast road trip, we also returned to the Sunshine Coast Trail. We chose the Inland Lake to Sarah Point section (64km) for its early season hikeability. The trail delivered with sweeping ocean views, atmospheric old growth forest and impressive waterfalls.

A high point was a night at the brand new Sarah Point hut, accompanied by a beautiful Salish Sea sunset and pick-up by Zodiac in the morning.

In fall, we returned to BC’s Boundary Country and also Nova Scotia, though a new area to us – Antigonish County.

To the East Coast and back

Our biggest venture of the year was a gigantic 16,000km summer road trip from British Columbia to Nova Scotia and back.

To organise and successfully complete such a huge trip was so exciting after two years of not being able to plan much at all.

Silhouette of Gemma standing looking at sunset, with sun just disappearing behind horizon
Watching the sunset on the Magdalen Islands, June

The spark to make it happen was the 2022 TMAC Conference, which was held in June in Yarmouth, Nova Scotia. Being that JR’s family lives in New Brunswick and we hadn’t seen them since 2018, it seemed like a good opportunity to go east.

I could write paragraphs and paragraphs about this trip alone, but I’ll leave you with the highlights – five days on the Magdalen Islands in Quebec, a week long canoe trip in Quetico Provincial Park, fossil digging in Saskatchewan and four days on the Cape Chignecto Trail in Nova Scotia with JR’s dad and partner.

Close up of JR bending down and brushing dirt at dinosaur dig site
Digging for dinosaur bones (yes, really!) in Grasslands National Park

Reconnecting with family and friends

The most impactful aspect to this year was being able to meet up with so many wonderful friends and family members. We live far from any relatives (and don’t have many local friends), so 2022 was particularly special.

Our journey to the East Coast included stops in Calgary, Kenora and North Bay to see much loved friends, with even more reunions at the TMAC Conference.

Gemma and Lindsay stand in front of a colouful flower mural on Yarmouth street
Reuniting with Lindsay from I’ve Been Bit Travel Blog in Yarmouth, June

Three weeks on the Acadian Peninsula gave us plenty of time to catch up with JR’s family, old friends and also sort some of our stored items. JR’s dad and partner even joined us to hike the Cape Chignecto Trail in Nova Scotia, their first ever backpacking trip!

Later in the fall, we met up with more friends both in Las Vegas and Toronto. My heart feels so full with gratitude for the relationships we have across Canada.

JR hikes on a coastal trail with two people behind. The ocean is calm
Hiking the Cape Chignecto Trail, July

140km of adventure on the Great Divide Trail

Back in January, we reserved a five day late summer hike on the Rockwall Trail in Kootenay National Park. It had been on my ‘to do’ list for years.

After securing the reservation, my mind started working overdrive. The Rockwall was part of the Great Divide Trail (GDT), a 1,100km long thru hiking route in the Canadian Rockies. What if we just…continued hiking?

Fast forward to June and we were watching a sunset on the Magdalene Islands when my phone started pinging with cancellation alerts. Right there and then, I finalised our longest hike to date – 11 days and 140km along the GDT.

Selfie of JR and Gemma on the Great Divide Trail, both carrying large backpacks in mountainous area
Hiking the Great Divide Trail, August

And what an unforgettable trip that was – 11 days filled with spectacular views of mountain peaks, wildflower meadows, alpine lakes, huge glaciers and impossibly blue rivers.

We climbed a total of eight mountain passes, ascending a total of 5000m (over half the height of Everest). JR swam in three alpine lakes, we saw the summit of Mount Assiniboine for the first time and we were able to watch a grizzly bear hunt ground squirrels from a safe distance. Amazing!

Bucket list trips

JR and I don’t have formal bucket lists, but we both have a few ‘must do’ experiences at the back of our minds.

When friends invited us to Las Vegas for a birthday celebration in September, I first thought of themed hotels, extravagant shows and the chance to hang out with good friends. My second thought was ‘how far away is the Grand Canyon?’

Gemma and JR are sitting on a rock in front of the magnificent Grand Canyon, turning around to smile at the camera
Grand Canyon, October

While we only spent one full day in Grand Canyon National Park itself, the trip was more than worth the detour. I know we’ll go back one day but for now, I’m still euphoric that we had the chance to see it.

The other trip I have in mind was a bucket list experience I didn’t even know I had.

A media trip to Toronto challenged us to find adventure opportunities in Canada’s biggest city. Our base for the trip was a suite on the 21st floor of the incredible Hotel X.

The suite’s living room looked out to the Toronto skyline on one side and Lake Ontario and the Toronto Islands on the other. I could have sat in front of those floor to ceiling windows for days.

Toronto skyline view from Hotel X at sunset with golden hour colours in sky and on buildings, also highlighting the trees next to Lake Ontario
Hotel X views, October

More business success

After saying ‘it’s going to be hard to beat 2021 on a professional level’ in our last annual round-up, I feel very lucky to be able to say…well, we did. 2022 was an absolutely incredible year for our business.

Off Track Travel was created back in 2012 with the simple purpose of keeping family and friends updated with our adventures in Canada.

Over time, I hoped other people would read and maybe, perhaps, fingers crossed, I could potentially make some money out of it some day.

In 2022, almost one million people browsed our website (!!)

I feel SO fortunate that we are able to fully support ourselves doing a ‘job’ we love. Here’s hoping it will continue!

Back view of JR paddling a canoe on a calm lake in Quetico Provincial Park
Paddling in Quetico Provincial Park, August

Looking to 2023

We’re going to try and relax a little in 2023. Which, for us, means spending more than a week at home during the summer months. Fingers crossed.

If next year is even half as good as this one, I’ll be quite content.

Thank you so much for all of the support and we’ll see you on the flipside (2023!)

JR and Gemma stand in colourful arch in front of the CN Tower in Toronto
Toronto, October (thanks Yashy for the photo!)

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