Highlights of My Travels in 2011

 

I’ve had such an incredible year and now 2012 is approaching so fast it’s making my head spin.

The first half of 2011 was pretty quiet for me on the travel front, but the second half certainly made up for that!  I travelled to some of North America’s most spectacular places this year, I redesigned my blog and my readership has increased dramatically over the past six months. So thank you so much to all of you who have made that happen!

There were some very definite highlights from my travels, so these are the places and experiences that had special significance and are the best memories of my adventures in 2011.

*  *  *  *  *  *

 

North to Alaska

Alaska as a whole completely exceeded my expectations.

I knew I would love it, but not to the extent that I did. When we took a small charter flight over Denali National Park, my travel buddy and I were the only passengers and we flew so close to the Alaska Range and Mount McKinley I felt as though I could reach out and touch them.

 

aerial view of Alaska Range

© Quiet Wanderings. All photography by Cherina Hadley. Alaska Range.

 

aerial view of Alaska Range

© Quiet Wanderings. Alaska Range

 

 

Bears

My bear-phobia was significantly lessened after watching this female black bear nurturing her cubs. We sat on the other side of this stream, only a few meters away, and watched spawning salmon become lunch for this family of three.

My last (and first) encounter with a black bear was being stalked in the British Columbian wilderness at night. This encounter was much more pleasant and a huge milestone in overcoming my fear.

 

black bears feeding on salmon

© Quiet Wanderings.

 

Aurora Borealis

It’s not unusual to want something so much that all the anticipation and expectation beforehand leaves the experience itself feeling like a bit of a let down. I wondered if this would be the case when I finally saw the Aurora Borealis for the first time. It wasn’t. Seeing the lights was so extraordinary and so overwhelming I had to keep reminding myself that it was real.

The natural world has a way of doing that to you.

 

northern lights in Alaska

© Quiet Wanderings. Aurora Borealis

 

Aurora Borealis

© Quiet Wanderings. Aurora Borealis

 

 

Getting Down and Dirty at the Olympic Peninsula

I swear I spent half of my time in the Olympic Peninsula’s rainforests lying on my stomach in the dirt looking at all the incredible biodiversity of plant life on the forest floors. Hence, ending up with loads of pictures like this one.

 

Olympic Peninsula

© Quiet Wanderings. Olympic Peninsula

 

Luckily, I did look up every now and then too.

 

Hoh Rainforest, Olympic Peninsula

© Quiet Wanderings. Hoh Rainforest, Olympic Peninsula

 

 

Learning to Love Yellowstone

Yellowstone National Park and I had a rather bumpy start to our relationship but she won out in the end. I am not that easily impressed but I look at images like these now and think….how did I ever resist her charms?

 

Grand Prismatic Springs, Yellowstone National Park

© Quiet Wanderings. Grand Prismatic Springs, Yellowstone National Park

 

Yellowstone National Park

© Quiet Wanderings. Yellowstone National Park


 

Ice Climbing on a Glacier

Best. Adrenalin. Rush. Ever!

I cannot wait to do this again. An ice pick, a pair of crampons, a harness and mighty fine wall of ice is all I wanted for Christmas….I didn’t think that was so much to ask for! Still waiting…

 

© Quiet Wanderings. Ice climbing on the Matanuska Glacier

 

 

The Pacific Ocean

Being away from the coast for too long puts my nerves on edge. Driving along the Pacific coast for four weeks meant I had this kind of view at my left every day.

I so miss falling asleep to the sound of pounding waves.

 

Pacific Coast: Caspar, Northern California

© Quiet Wanderings. Pacific Coast: Caspar, Northern California

 

 

Fall Colours

I’m not sure if it is because we don’t get the same kind of Autumn colours here down-under, or if I am just a sucker for colourful things, but I LOVE being in the the Northern Hemisphere in the fall. The most impressive fall colours I’ve ever seen were in Denali National Park during my trip to Alaska – this photograph does not even begin to do it justice.

 

 Denali National Park

© Quiet Wanderings. Denali National Park

 

 

Polar Bears in the Canadian Arctic

As far as photography opportunities and life experience goes, this place is by far the winner.  And the absolute hightlight of all my travels this year. Possibly ever!

Definitely not my best photograph, but the it’s the one that epitomises the memory of my time in this remote part of the world and the majestic nature of the polar bears.

I still get goose bumps every time I look at it.

 

Churchill, Manitoba

© Quiet Wanderings. Churchill, Manitoba

 

 

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Thank you for all your support this year and for sharing these journeys with me!

 

On the agenda for next year:

ICELANDITALY – GREECE – SCOTLAND…and all kinds of other possibilities!

 

I can’t wait to share all the new adventures with you in 2012!

 

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