Discovering The Great Trail with CLIF Bar

Last week, I joined Storm Chaser and Adventurer Ricky Forbes on an exciting mission around Vancouver to explore parts of The Great Trail in collaboration with CLIF Bar and KEEN Canada.

The Great Trail allows Canadians like you and I, to travel from coast to coast across this country’s beautiful and diverse 13 provinces and territories. To commemorate Canada’s 150th anniversary in 2017, 432 existing trails were connected across the country to create TGT. The trail now spans 24 000 kms and is the longest recreational trail in the world. CLIF Bar is proud to have funded nearly 150 km of TGT. You can explore the trail either by running, hiking, cycling, paddling, trail running cross-country skiing, snowmobiling or whatever activity you choose!

So when Ricky got to Vancouver, I packed a couple of CLIF snacks (have you tried the new CLIF Nut Butter Filled Banana Chocolate Peanut Butter? It’s my new go-to for hikes!), put on my KEEN boots and joined him to discover parts of TGT that is right in my backyard.

We started off the day with an urban hike right in Stanley Park on the Seawall. It’s a great place to ride a bike, go for a run or even just a leisurely walk like we did. Along the way we saw some seals in the ocean, beautiful vistas of the North Shore mountains, the impressive Lions Gate Bridge and the legendary Siwash Rock.

We then continued our explorations on the North Shore, heading to the Cleveland Dam, which has been around since the 1950s and which holds a portion of Vancouver’s drinking water. There, you will find a multitude of canopied trails to venture off on that are part of the Coastal Rainforest. You’ll be surrounded by trees that are centuries old, soft green moss, ferns and picturesque views of the canyon. I still pinch myself thinking that I live in such a beautiful place!

Our day ended at Cypress Mountain, where we were able to catch the most magnificent sunset.

From Vancouver, it’s easy to keep heading north up to Whistler or head east towards Kelowna to explore more of TGT.

Though we only scratched the surface of TGT in a day, it’s awesome to think that this amazing trail really connects Canadians through their passion for the outdoors. We have such a wide variety of landscapes around the country, so it’s quite special to be able to see it all via one amazing multipurpose trail.

This adventure day with Ricky and CLIF Bar made me want to explore the ENTIRE trail… Maybe it’s something I will need to add onto my bucket list!

For more information on The Great Trail visit: www.clifbar.com/greattrail

To see where The Great Trail runs near you, go here: https://thegreattrail.ca/explore-the-map/

This post was written in collaboration with CLIF Bar but all opinions are my own. 

 

Unique Getaway Idea – Nectar Yoga B&B on Bowen Island

If you’re like me, then you’re always on the lookout for unique experiences and getaways.

Since before moving to Vancouver, I had been wanting to check out a super cute B&B located on Bowen Island that I found on Instagram called Nectar Yoga B&B. I had heard that this place was not only a great spot for yoga but also a very tranquil place to stay and recharge for a couple of days.

I had the opportunity to finally to check it out just a few weeks ago and the magical B&B did not disappoint.

Getting to Bowen Island is a quick 25-minute ferry ride that departs from Horseshoe Bay several times a day. Once on Bowen Island, you can easily access to Nectar Yoga B&B either by car, by bike or even just walking or hitchhiking, as a lot of locals do.

Located just off one of the main roads on the island, this beautiful eco-friendly B&B offers its guests 3 different lodging options on its 1.2 acre lot. You can either opt for the Nectar Loft (that can welcome up to 4 guests), the Forest Cottage (that can welcome 2 guests) or even opt for the Garden Suite (which can accommodate an even larger group).

The Nectar Loft offers guests beach style cottage accommodations. The loft is furnished with sustainable and local decor, organic bedding, a Canadian-made pull-out sofa and all-natural beauty products. There is also a kitchenette that is filled with local coffee and teas as well as an area with books, board games and art supplies encouraging guests to get creative during their stay.

The Forest Cottage is a prefabricated building that was delivered to the property by boat as a way to reduce waste, fossil fuels and have less of an impact on the forested area in which it is located in. This west coast beach style cottage has a very homey feel with its cute beach-themed deco and fireplace.

There is also a beautiful outdoor shower on a private deck that features all natural eco-friendly bath products. From the shower, guests can spot local wildlife such as deer and beautiful 100-foot trees. The cottage also includes a mini fridge, local teas, coffee as well as a wide selection of DVDs and books to cozy up with in the evening.

Another reason why this place is so special is because the entire B&B only uses natural cleaning and beauty products to ensure they minimize their negative impact on the environment.

The one thing I was most excited to check out at the B&B, is their yoga dome that is located on property. When you check-in, you can opt for an Evening Arrival Yoga Lesson in the dome followed by a Guided Relaxation. Each morning, you can also start your day with a Guided Meditation and Yoga Lesson, before enjoying the homemade vegetarian or vegan breakfast that is delivered right to your door. Waffles, coconut yogurt, smoothies and fresh fruit are just some of the delicious homemade treats that can be served for breakfast. It’s a healthy and hearty way to start off the day!

During your stay at the B&B, you can also set up an in-room massage or even order a juice cleanse (that is made with seasonal fruit and veggies that are local and organic when possible). To top it off, there is also a Wood Burning Finnish Sauna that you can access on property.

If you’re looking for things to do beyond the property, you will find a little secluded beach just a 5min walk away. The beach is quiet and offers breathtaking views of Horseshoe Bay and the surrounding mountains.

If you’re into hiking, there are also tons of trails on the island to choose from, Mount Gardner being the most popular and longest route.

All in all, the Nectar Yoga B&B is the perfect place to unwind and spend a couple of days focusing on your health and wellbeing while being at one with nature. It’s a true gem and so incredibly close to Vancouver. I look forward to spending some additional time there later in the year.

For more info on the Nectar Yoga B&B, go here.

Why Sole Girls is Sole Awesome

Growing up, I always on the lookout for other like-minded girls and groups to join. I would have been thrilled to have been a part of a group like Sole Girls as a pre-teen and teenager.

Sole Girls is an amazing organization that via creative running games empowers girls ages 6 through 12. They provide them with tools to develop healthy ideas about body image, media, healthy living, peers and self-esteem. They offer weekly sessions, camps as well as workshops for these girls. They also organize events such as Sunday’s Sole Awesome 5K for the entire family, with funds directly going to some of their scholarship programs.

Sunday, I had the chance to partake in their Sole Awesome 5K thanks to MEC and got to meet some of the most incredible young girls. It was a fun morning filled with both running and also super fun activities like 3-Legged Races, on-course obstacles, dance parties, and more! Every kilometre of the run highlighted one of the Sole Programs’ core values, which are: Support, Open-Mindedness, Listening and Enthusiasm.

In addition to Sunday’s events, Sole Girls have lots of programs and initiatives planned for the summer including their Summer Camps, which start in July in and around Vancouver, North Vancouver, South Surrey, Langley and Calgary.

There is no doubt in my mind that if I would have been able to join a group like Sole Girls, when I was younger, that it would have been such a huge help for me after my parents’ divorce. It would have been such a great support system and would have without a doubt helped me with my self-esteem and maybe even help counter the eating disorder I had during my teens.

I was really inspired by all of the positivity that radiated from all the girls present at Sunday’s Sole Girls that I’ve decided to become a Soleteer, a volunteer with Sole Girls! If this is something that might interest you or to find out more about Sole Girls, go here.

A big thank you to MEC and Sole Girls for allowing me to be a part of Sunday’s Sole Awesome 5K, it was a truly memorable experience!

Photos by Scott & Pam McFarlane

MELSAYS PODCAST – EP. 10 – Kelsey Serwa

Thrilled to have already reached the 10th podcast mark!

My guest for this 10th episode is Kelsey Serwa. She is a Canadian freestyle skier that just recently won, a gold medal at the 2018 Olympics, in ski cross. This is the British Columbia native’s 3rd Olympic games and 2nd Olympic medal, she had won silver at the 2014 Sochi games. I got to speak to her a couple of weeks ago, just a few hours after landing in Vancouver, post-Olympics. So without further a due, here’s Kelsey Serwa.

The podcast is just one click away or you can also listen to it below. If you enjoyed our chat, make sure you subscribe to the MELSAYS PODCAST here -> iTunes and Google Play.

5 Best Running Trails in Vancouver

There are so many incredible trails located in and around Vancouver. With that said, it was hard to pick only five but here are some of my go-to’s in the area.

1) North Shore Spirit Trail (North Vancouver) – If you’re looking for a multipurpose trail for road running with minimal elevation and that is not nearly as busy as all the trails in Vancouver, you must go for a run on the Spirit Trail. Created in collaboration with the City of North Vancouver and the local Squamish Nation First Nations community, this trail offers up a mix of city, park, mountain and ocean views. You can run from Lower Lonsdale all the way past Ambleside Park and well into West Vancouver.

2) Lynn Loop (North Vancouver) – Is the perfect terrain for someone who is just getting into trail running. There’s very minimal elevation and the packed gravel make it easy on your feet. You also get the most gorgeous views of the forest and feeling completely immersed in nature. Plus if you’re feeling good after the loop, the trail connects to a handful of other trails, so there’s always the option of extending your run if you’d like.

3) Buntzen Lake (Port Moody) – Located just 30 mins from Vancouver, this lakeside trail offers something a little bit more challenging with uneven terrain, roots, rocks and some elevation. This trail is always super quiet and easy to access through their parking lot or even through Sasmat Lake and the Belcarra Regional Park (you can prolong your run really easily and add a ton more elevation to it if you follow the Sasmat Lake Loop, the Diez Vistas or Buntzen Ridge Trail).

4) Baden Powell Trail (North Vancouver) – Though a very popular trail, I’ve often found myself completely alone for most of my runs on the Baden Powell Trail. The Baden Powell Trail can take you either all the way up to Grouse Mountain or down to Deep Cove. There are definitely some more advanced portions like the switchbacks that make up the Pipeline Crossing but all the trails are clearly marked and beautiful.

5) Lighthouse Park (West Vancouver) – A shorter trail than most in the area as the longest distance you can run is a 6k loop. However, the views from Eagle Point or Shore Shine Point are magnificent. On a clear day you can see the Washington Mountains, the islands, Howe Sound, etc. plus you’re running around in a lush forest. The park tends to get crowded on the weekends or during the summer so plan accordingly if you don’t want to be surrounded by people the entire time.

Looking for more trail ideas? I love checking out the Vancouver Trails website or even just going on Strava and looking up popular routes in the area.

My #SavingsJourney Recap

Can’t believe it’s already been six months since I started my Scotiabank #SavingsJourney. My goal with was to save up $5,000 CAD in 180 days by using the Scotiabank MomentumPLUS Savings Account. This money would allow me to buy a used vehicle to explore my new backyard in British Columbia. After moving here last year, I quickly realized that I would be needing a vehicle if I wanted to spend as much time as possible adventuring in the mountains, by the ocean and anywhere my heart desired.

The reason why I chose the Scotiabank MomentumPLUS Savings Account is because it allows you to earn more by offering a higher interest rate the longer you save. You can select a savings period of 90, 180, 270 or 360 days. A longer Premium Period allows me to earn a higher Premium Interest Rate, with regular interest paid monthly and the Premium Interest paid at the end of the Premium Period. I was able to track the progress of my savings online and the fact that there was no monthly fee and no minimum balance was a bonus.

With the account, my 6-month #SavingsJourney started off on a great note. Throughout the fall, I was able to make regular contributions to my savings account because I was working quite a bit as a fitness instructor and also via this very website. What I enjoyed is being able to monitor my progress online whenever I wanted and making adjustments by adding either a little more or a little less to my contributions in order to stay on track.

Things were going swimmingly until I received a letter in the mail, just a few days before the holidays. The letter came from the CRA and was requesting that I pay $4,000 in income taxes within the next two weeks. Last year was the first year that I worked as a full-time freelancer and when it came time to do my income tax return, I went to the first place I could find in Vancouver, after just having moved to the city. Little did I know, the woman who completed my tax return wasn’t experienced with self-employed clients and didn’t do my return right. As a result, I had to send all the money I had been saving up for a car to the government.

I was gutted to say the least but when I came back from my holidays in January, I was confident I could still reach my goal in time because of the high potential to earn interest in my account. However, the reality of being self-employed is that some months are a lot slower than others. January and February are notoriously slow months for creatives. So although I’ve been working extra since the beginning of 2018 to compensate for the money I had to access in my savings account, I unfortunately was not able to make back the money I had saved up in time for the end of my determined savings period. That said, this journey has taught me a lot. Even though things didn’t go according to plan, I am really thankful that I had a high interest savings account to get me out of a bind. Seeing my savings grow has made me more determined than ever to keep working toward my goal of buying a vehicle, just a bit later than planned. It has also taught me the importance of planning ahead as well as putting aside a little extra money in case of emergencies (like mine in December!) and also making sure I get a good accountant!

I’m happy that the Scotiabank MomentumPLUS Savings Account allows me to have flexible savings periods. Because of this I have gone ahead and increased my savings period to 270 days to replace what I used and save up enough in time for the nicer weather that is right around the corner. I have already started planning some of the hikes, camping weekends and surf spots I want to hit up in British Columbia when the warm weather returns, so I’m now more excited than ever to make my #SavingsJourney a success. I’m definitely not letting this little bump in the road stop me from achieving my goal.

I hope to see you out on one of my adventures this spring and summer!

This post was written in collaboration with Scotiabank, but all opinions are my own.

MELSAYS PODCAST – EP. 8 – Kate Horsman

Happy Sunday! I had to take a little break from the podcast this past month but I’m excited to share with you today a brand new episode!

My guest for this episode, is Kate Horsman, she is a holistic nutritionist and natural foods chef. She specializes in Women’s Health, Body Image, Eating Disorders as well as plant-based nutrition and athletics. She also leads workshops and retreats in Vancouver and beyond where she shares her passion for helping others. After following her on social media for the past couple of months, I’m thrilled to have her share some of her wisdom on the podcast today!

The podcast is just one click away or you can also listen to it below. If you enjoyed our chat, make sure you subscribe to the MELSAYS PODCAST here -> iTunes and Google Play.

There are a ton of exciting guests coming on the podcast in the next few weeks: 2018 Olympic Gold Medalist in Ski Cross Kelsey Serwa, Founder of Hot for Food Lauren Toyota, author and modern day explorer Kate Harris and more!

Celebrating the release of Tomb Raider with a Lara Croft-Inspired Trail Run

To celebrate the release of Tomb Raider movie this Friday, I recently went on a Lara Croft-inspired run with some friends out on the trails in Vancouver.

Trail running requires determination, strength and a sense of adventure, which are all characteristics that Lara Croft embodies. As I’ve seen with my running group RUN DISTRIKT these past couple of months, group runs are all about togetherness and support from the other runners out with you. When you hit elevation or difficult terrain, having others running by your side can be immensely helpful to keep you going. And that was the case when we met up on the North Shore to go on this cold and rainy run early in the morning last week. Together, we were able to reach the viewpoint just in time for sunrise. We documented our badass Tomb Raider-inspired run with the video below, which I hope you’ll enjoy!

Video shot by: @theoffners

I’m stoked to be giving away 3 pairs of passes for the new Tomb Raider movie on my Instagram – @melsays. The contest is open to residents of Canada (excluding Qc) and is open to anyone 19+. To enter, comment on my Instagram video by letting me know what inspires you! Winners will be announced on March 15th 2018 and contacted via DM on Instagram. #TombRaider #LaraCroft

For complete contest rules and please click here: bit.ly/2FtwnDY

Thank you to Michelle Moon and Sydney Prevost for being a part of the shoot.

This post was written in collaboration with Warner Brothers Canada but all opinions are my own.

MELSAYS PODCAST – EP. 7 – Kaitlyn Burke

The 7th episode of the MELSAYS PODCAST is now live!

My guest for this episode is Kaitlyn Burke, she is the founder of the New Heights Basketball Academy in Vancouver. It is the only female focused basketball academy in British Columbia, whose goal is not only to develop female athletes through the sport of basketball but also empower them to become strong leaders in the classroom, on the court and in the community. I hope you’ll enjoy our chat! 

The podcast is just one click away or you can also listen to it below. If you enjoyed our chat, make sure you subscribe to the MELSAYS PODCAST here -> iTunes and Google Play.

What’s worth seeing at the VIMFF

Photo: Chris Christie

The Vancouver International Mountain Film Festival (VIMFF) kicks-off this Friday February 9th in Vancouver and will showcase some of the best mountain and adventure films as well as athletes, speakers and content creators. During the 9-day program, festivalgoers will be able to screen films, watch live multimedia presentations, photography exhibits, take part in workshops, seminars and more! The festival will be taking place in a variety of theatres around the city and will bring together the Canadian and international community of mountain and outdoor enthusiasts.

Some of this year’s speakers include David Suzuki, Jim Herrington, Parvaneh Kazemi, Cory Richards, Darcy Hennessey Turenne and more!

Can’t make it to all the screenings? Here are a few recommendations to help you plan your week.

In Constant Motion – Director: Cameron Sylvester

Saturday February 10th – 7:30pm at Centennial Theatre – Trail Running
An evening filled with presentations and films from trails around the world.
Speakers: Susan Hui, Rick Arikado & Suzanne Johnson, Laddie Hannam & Ann Taylor, Adam Campbell
Films: In Constant Motion (Canadian Premiere), Driven (World Premiere), Why I Run, Feel The Burn.

Surf the Line – Director: Jeremy Frey

Sunday February 11th – 2:30pm at Rio Theatre – Best of: Mountain Sports & Adventure
An afternoon showcasing international films on different sports and adventures.
Films: The Ario Dream (North American Premiere), Moment (World Premiere), The Worlds Highest Marathon, Freedom (World Premiere), This Way Up (North American Premiere), Surf The Line.

Directly Affected – Director: Zack Embree

Sunday February 11th – 7:30pm at Centennial Theatre – Uniting the Salish Sea
Moving beyond extreme energy and protecting our communities.
Speakers: David Suzuki, My Sea To Sky
Films: Directly Affected (World Premiere).

Where the Wild Things Play – Director: Krystle Wright

Thursday February 15th – 7:30pm at The Cinematheque – Women in Adventure
An evening where women from around the world will be sharing their stories about being in the outdoors.
Speakers: Kat Young, Natasha Drozdzenska & Ania Markiewicz
Films: Where the Wild Things Play, My Big White Thighs and Me (North American Premiere), Army (BC Premiere), Waters of the Greenstone.

Escape – Director: Anjali Nayar

Friday February 16th – 7:30pm at Rio Theatre – MEC Canadian Adventure Show 
An evening dedicated to pushing self-propelled adventure and exploration by Canadians.
Speakers: Steve Tersmette & Shawn Emmett, Lorraine Blancher & Robin Munshaw
Films: Escape, Strong The Wind Blows.

For more information on the VIMFF or for tickets, visit https://vimff.org/.