I was born in the middle of winter. The crisp cold air was the first element of Nature I was exposed to. Some odd logic tells me this could be the reason I am so drawn to it. I find myself eager for summer to end and for winter to arrive because it means so many things. Like the smell of an open wood fire, hot beverages and a warm blanket. And then there is the chance of snow, if I choose to seek it out. This past December, I did just that.
Those who know me will know that I have an obsession with nature and photographing it. In particular, it is mountains and forests that captivate me. Amongst this kind of landscape I am inspired, I find perspective and I feel free. So, naturally, Canada was an easy choice of destination.
I managed to convince my family that I would not survive if we didn’t go to the Rocky Mountains for Christmas, so our little team of explorers consisting of myself, four sisters, two of their boyfriends and one father, set off without a glance backwards.
We drove from California to Golden, British Columbia. For two days, eight sets of human limbs were twisted and contorted to fit in one car, along with eight bags and a mountain of blankets. I spent most of the trip with my face pressed against the cold window, staring out, camera ready for anything worthy of a photograph. The slightest indication of anything interesting caused a series of events. All at once, my left hand would fly up to wipe the fog from the window and my right hand would snatch my camera. Then I would accidentally lean too far into the car window and my camera would smack me in the face due to the misjudgment of distance. Finally, a series of shutter noises would wake the sleeping beauties in the car, triggering a chain of demands for coffee, a diner, a bathroom, a stretch and a seat swap. And so were our lives for those two days.
We finally arrived at our log cabin, falling over ourselves to be free of the confines of the vehicle. We ran through the snow, slowly gathering back the feeling in our legs. It was dark when we arrived, so it wasn’t until morning at sunrise that I first looked out the window and saw where we actually were. It was the most beautiful winter wonderland I have ever seen. The sun was starting to rise over the mountains outside our doorstep and the golden light was blanketed over the peeks. Surely this view must have been the inspiration for the town’s name. I shrieked at everyone to wake up, grabbed my camera and without thinking it through, ran outside in my pajamas and hiking boots. The freezing cold air of approximately minus 18 degrees Celsius hit me like a sack of bricks, so to speak. Even though it was so cold, the adrenaline and pure excitement of being in such a place was enough to put it out of my mind for a few minutes. When my hands went numb and I couldn’t press the camera shutter any longer, I realised I was only human and retreated inside to dress more appropriately. Nature always wins.
The next 7 days were filled with adventure. There was exploring, hiking, wild animal spotting, Christmas feasting, an ugly sweater competition, board games, huddling by the campfire drinking cinnamon whisky and taking so, so many photos. It was extra special this year not only because of our location, but because my sisters and I were reunited with each other after a year of separation. And on top of that we were all reunited with our Father, whose visits are few and far between. Even though time passes when my family is away from each other, we always seem to pick up from where we left off, like nothing has changed. I love that about them.
I came home to Melbourne from the trip with so many incredible photographs and memories. I sleep under a large-scale print of a snowy forest in Golden. It’s a gentle reminder firstly of how fortunate I was to be there, and secondly that there is nothing stopping me from going back. And until then I have these photographs to share with you.
View more of Brooke's work here.