With the year coming to a close, my last trip out to Ruby not being entirely successful, and as well this being my last trip before I take off from Canada for January, Jason and myself set off to view the falls one last time this past Sunday. We both had been monitoring the ambient temperatures from Robb, which throughout the week showed a consistent temperature for Sunday as -20 C without a wind chill. Come Saturday evening, we decided it was still a go, and we would bring extra gear should we need it.
Morning meet up was at 6 AM, and as per usual Jason was ready and waiting even earlier. I made it in to the meeting place (Tim Hortons), ordered a coffee and some food, and then we were off down the highway to Edson. Once in Edson we topped off the tanks, and set out as planned. I noted -20 C exactly all the way in and around to the air down spot, though the wind cut that down even further dramatically.
The trunk road was in great condition, and we managed a decent time down it to the trail head. The trail head showed a couple of older tracks from a quad or two, but that was it. Snow was enough to cover everything, but only around a foot deep overall. The river was fairly frozen, though a couple of open water spots were visible which was crazy as the area has seen the same deep freeze we've been experiencing for quite some time.
Going along the river sections proved to be a challenge as I was running off memory as I still have not got around to logging a GPS map for the main trail. Add in the fact that we were ,making fresh tracks, on an all white canvas, with no references, it was easy to end up going along the wrong way up the (frozen) river only to discover the proper route later on. Some of the established crossings even had to be "bypassed" as there was open water on them resulting in large (tall) ice shelves that I did not feel like breaking into. I tested most questionable crossings on foot, just to be sure. This area is typically muskeg and deep to the left, with a relatively shallow and easy path where I'm walking. The yellow spots were slushy, with everything else frozen solid around them. No breakthroughs here.
The weather changed from cloudy, to light snow, to sun peaking through the clouds throughout the trip up. With all the white and grey, pictures were unfortunately a little boring overall. Still, there were some that ended up alright.
Things were going really well, and after driving over one of the few deeper river crossings (headlight level on a 33" tire 2-3" lift Tacoma), I kept pushing forwards over the last one. right at this point I was telling my passenger how I had slightly sunk ion this exact spot a few summers earlier, resulting in me having to strip the interior of the truck and air it all out. And how it was nice that everything was frozen and I wouldn't have to worry about mud getting everywhere etc. And literally as I finished the sentence, at 3/4 of the way across, the front end drops through the ice and I'm stuck spinning all 4 wheels.
Fairly minor, as I know this hole is a lot deeper than what I am experiencing. But I was mostly upset that my front end was now about to become a muddy ball of ice. And later on mud. Boooooooo! A quick pull with a kinetic rope (Bubba) coupled to a heavier tow strap to create some distance to avoid 2 trucks being on the ice, and I was out and lining up through the bypass.
A quick blast through the bypass (which is getting pretty aggressive as time goes on) and we were at the falls. Parking is where the tables are, you need to walk the remaining distance to keep the area nice (though I've noticed less ATV's are doing this). The walk is less than 2 minutes.
The falls look amazing frozen. I prefer seeing them like this myself.
The drive home was pretty uneventful, no surprises! Except one small one. On a few of the high speed straights I was bottoming out hard on some really small bumps! This was odd as coming in they were really smooth. A quick inspection revealed that I ad ice buildup on my frame that resulted in my bump stops being a 1/2" from the frame! Pretty much zero up travel. I had a pry bar that I chipped the ice off with, and all was well again.
Round trip was exactly 12 hrs from my doorstep, including fuel etc. Not bad time at all, especially in comparison to my last outing which was 18 hrs and not making it to the falls.
by Noel Jones - UO Contributor