20 dramatic photos of the Canadian backcountry with incredible stories.
We are Marta Kulesza and Jack Bolshaw, we met in a mountainous region of Ecuador beneath the volcano Cotopaxi. Our love for photographing summits turned into love for each other and soon the cogs in our brains started planning our next adventure together.
Sunrise on Ha Ling Peak, Canmore
So off we went. First to the Amazon jungle, then to the Southern Alps of New Zealand, Tasmania in Australia, the European Alps, the Icelandic Highlands, and then to the Canadian Rockies.
Mount Assiniboine Provincial Park
Tent Ridge in Kananaskis Country
Our leg muscles strengthened as we completed over a 1000km of trails and as the hikes turned our calves to stone, our minds were toughened by the extreme conditions we faced.
Indian Ridge in Jasper National Park
We summited mountains during the night to watch the sunrise, stayed up late to watch the sunset and drove close to 4000km over a long weekend to capture the aurora. We had days that were above 40 degrees Celsius (+100F) and braved temperatures close to -50C (-58F) at night.
Lady Aurora dancing in the Northwest Territories
We encountered grizzly bears, moose, black bears, elk, mountain lions, and other Canadian wildlife.
Spirit Island on Maligne Lake in Jasper National Park
There wasn’t much we wouldn’t do. Here are a couple short stories from our adventures accompanied by our photos that’ll make you want to see these places for yourself.
Mount Birdwood in Spray Valley Provincial Park
Whilst hiking in Tonquin Valley in Jasper National Park, a trip we did twice over 8 days, we rounded a corner on an enclosed section of path when all of a sudden we were face to face with a grizzly sow with two young cubs. The most dangerous and unpredictable animal in the Canadian Rockies.
Floe Lake in Kootenay National Park
With a backpack full of beef jerky, we readied our bear spray, spoke even louder than before, and avoided direct eye contact as it can be perceived as a sign of aggression.
Mount Sarrail reflecting in Rawson Lake
As we were standing our ground, momma bear began advancing toward us with cubs in tow. With nowhere to go, we walked backwards for what seemed like an eternity until the mother led her cubs through the bush toward the Astoria River near the Amethyst Lakes.
Sunburst Lake in Mount Assiniboine Provincial Park
With our hearts in our mouths we continued on, much sweatier than before.
Sarrail Ridge in Kananaskis Country
Tent Ridge in Kanananskis Country
When a perfect weather window opened we decided to camp on the first summit of the Pocaterra Ridge in the heart of Kananaskis Country. Whilst crossing the first avalanche path from the previous winter, the sky looked great. Clear and calm.
Abraham Lake, Western Alberta
After a final surge we were at the first summit, had set up camp, ate, and were in our sleeping bags, waiting for sunrise. Then came a slight breeze; a considerable gust, followed by a strong wind that eventually ended in intermittent hail storms with 125km/h blasts. Although our tent was pitched as well as it could be, we literally had to hold it up with our feet from the inside.
Hiking up the East End of Mount Rundle
As the sun rose we decided to make a break for it as the hail had temporarily died down.
Pocaterra Ridge, Peter Loughead Provincial Park
Whilst traversing down a crunchy snow drift the light broke through the clouds illuminating the eastern face of Mount Pocaterra. A moment totally worth the hardship of the night.
Pocaterra Ridge in Peter Loughead Provincial Park
Mount Smuts, Spray Valley Provincial Park
Our next year starts with a 3-month trip to New Zealand, an East Coast adventure in Australia, early summer in the European Alps, and then fall and winter back in Canada.
Berg Lake, Mount Robson Provincial Park
We’ve been documenting our travels on our visually based website In A Faraway Land. It’s dedicated to providing up to date travel information, road trip itineraries and hiking guides adorned with our photography.
Opabin Plateau in Yoho National Park
One of the very few photos we took together.
Jack and Marta in Mount Assiniboine Provincial Park