Posts in Trip Report
UO Goes to (watch) the Races!

As a bit of a last minute Canada Day plan a few of us decided to head up to Alix and the Tail Creek Raceway to watch the Pro TCR Canada Day 100 that one of our members was driving co-pilot in. It ended up being Ryan & Julie-Anne, Leanne, Nick, Pam, and David & Elaine watching the big show. Sadly Ty's transmission had too many problems to do anything but start the race. We listened as the engine roared in first gear to take them across the start and gain their points and then we proceeded to catch the rest of the race. It was a pretty epic day. Good luck next time Ty and Rick (E-Mortal Customs)

Thanks for checking out the photos. For more on our experience at the race and more photos click HERE.

Canadian Badlands

Beautiful drive out. The weather hadn't quite turned the corner but the clouds were moving in the sky and the roads were sparsely populated. Made good time out to Drumheller. On the way stopped off at Horseshoe Canyon. I had definitely arrived before the tourist season had begun. The parking lot at Horseshoe was closed (as were the outhouses unfortunately). Parking in the overflow parking lot, Max (my tripawd blue heeler) and I went to go check out the Canyon.

Horseshoe Canyon in the Canadian Badlands just SW of Drumheller - Photo Taken with an iPhone

Horseshoe Canyon in the Canadian Badlands just SW of Drumheller - Photo Taken with an iPhone

I hadn't been out to Drum in a couple of years, but looking at that view ... I knew I had made the right choice on where to check out on my shakedown run. Explored a bit around the top of the Canyon. There are trails that descend down into the coulee but considering that the parking lot was closed, decided to check out some of the surrounding gravel roads to see if there was some other views.

Just off the gravel road on the eastern edge of Horseshoe Canyon

Just off the gravel road on the eastern edge of Horseshoe Canyon

Found a spot around the other side of the Canyon and pulled just off the road to try and get a nice poser shot of the 'Cruiser. Since there was no cattle around for Max to chase, I let her out of the truck to run around and she wanted to pose as well.

Max, our three legged blue heeler, sitting in the grass on the edge of Horseshoe Canyon

Max, our three legged blue heeler, sitting in the grass on the edge of Horseshoe Canyon

Took a couple minutes to soak up the view and let Max run around. Got back into the 'Cruiser and headed into town. I've always like the drive into Drumheller. If you've never done it before I took a video to capture it. It's just a 20 second clip but it doesn't convey the previous hour and a half of driving along the prairies and then finally dropping down into the Red River Coulee.

As this wasn't exactly a planned trip, thought I'd head over to the big dinosaur and decide where to go next. If you're not familiar with Drumheller, a little backstory might be needed. Drumheller is dinosaur country. Also Passion Play country but let's forget that for now. Back in 1884, Joe Tyrell stumbled on some dinosaur bones. The pile of bones he discovered would be later called the Albertosaurus and they ended up building a museum to hold all the fossils and dino bones collected in the area. The Royal Tyrell Museum. Sounds impressive and it is a pretty nice museum but it was closed. So I didn't head there. I went to the World's Largest Dinosaur ...

World's Largest Dinosaur - Photo Taken with an iPhone

World's Largest Dinosaur - Photo Taken with an iPhone

Fun little roadside attraction built to cash in on those summer tourist dollars. I didn't come in the summer and I realized after a closed Horseshoe Canyon that I should probably check to see what was actually open at this time of year. Turns out not much is open at the crack of spring in the Canadian Badlands. Heading north to the museum is a beautiful drive but the museum itself would be closed. Also I wasn't sure if the ferry would be open. Decided to head southeast. There are a lot of outdoor roadside style attractions that way, that even if not open might make for a pretty good chance to take a photo. So I grabbed some old liquid dinosaur bones (gasoline) as a 'souvenir' and set off.

One of the only things that was open at this time of year was the 'Last Chance Saloon' and I planned to stop in there for lunch but it didn't open that day 'till noon. Needed to kill some time and on the way was the Star Mine Suspension Bridge. Hadn't been there since grade school, so decided to check it out. Originally constructed in 1931 for the Star Mine workers, it was rebuilt in 1958 by the Alberta gov't as yet another roadside attraction. Highlights the colourful history of Alberta coal mining for the tourists such as myself.

Star Mine Suspension Bridge - Photo via Wikipedia

Star Mine Suspension Bridge - Photo via Wikipedia

Max came with me across the bridge ... well until about the half way point at which time I realized what a shit dog owner I am. The bridge consists of metal grating and my pup being the stubborn and stoic dog that she is walked out without a whimper or complaint. However, when I looked down at my poor three legged dog, realized I probably shouldn't subject her to more of the bridge. Did get a nice iphone photo of her though.

From the deck of the Star Mine Suspension Bridge looking across the Red Deer River to the North side. Maxine is being chill. - Photo Taken with an iPhone

From the deck of the Star Mine Suspension Bridge looking across the Red Deer River to the North side. Maxine is being chill. - Photo Taken with an iPhone

So after trying to torture my dog, headed to the "ghost town" of Wayne. Getting to Wayne is a nice drive over a bunch of single lane bridges over the meandering Rosebud River. Didn't count them as I went but they call it the '11 Bridges to Wayne' so I'm guessing there are at least that many. Wayne used to be a bustling community of miners but in the early 20th century the coal started runnin' out in the valley and the town shrunk to almost nothing. Feel like "ghost town" isn't entirely accurate, it seems like a very nice hamlet or collection of cottages. Now amalgamated into the City of Drumheller.

The historic Rosedeer Hotel and Last Chance Saloon in Wayne, AB - Photo Taken with an iPhone

The historic Rosedeer Hotel and Last Chance Saloon in Wayne, AB - Photo Taken with an iPhone

Also in Wayne is the Last Chance Saloon. Touted as the oldest bar in Alberta. Nestled into the Rosebud River Coulee it's a pretty awesome little restaurant with the friendliest people running the place. Willing to bend your ear about the history of the place. As I ate, was also given a chance to browse through a photo album with pics from back when Wayne was a mining metropolis. The food was good and the beer was cold. Perfect.

Inside the Last Chance Saloon - Photo Taken with an iPhone

Inside the Last Chance Saloon - Photo Taken with an iPhone

After eating, headed out on the road south to see the rest of the Rosebud River Valley. Unfortunately the road didn't continue much further down that way and eventually I turned around and headed back across all them bridges to the Hoodoo trail. Which, if you thought there was Hoodoos along that trail, you were right!

The Drumheller Hoodoos

The Drumheller Hoodoos

These are just off the highway. If you've never seen them before, I'd suggest giving them a look while you're in the area. Wouldn't make a trip JUST to see the hoodoos however. Fond memories as a child but after being to Moab and seeing the hoodoos and rock formations there I have to say it is a little underwhelming. Still a nice spot for a hike to check them out and they've added a bunch of interpretive stuff since the last time I had been.

Atlas Mine - Closed for the Season

Atlas Mine - Closed for the Season

Next up was Atlas Mine. They've created a museum of sorts at the abandoned mine (closed of course) and it's a pretty cool little spot to check out. The last remaining wooden coal triple in Canada is here and at 7 stories is pretty impressive. Atlas was the last of over a hundred coal mines in the area and I'll have to come back and check out the site when it's open.

The dilapidated Dorothy grain elevator - Photo taken with an iPhone

The dilapidated Dorothy grain elevator - Photo taken with an iPhone

Was winding down. Thought I'd check out the "ghost town" of Dorothy. Should've explored it more but at least I got this shot of the grain elevator there. Don't think this thing it'll be around much longer. There are a few other buildings in town including two old churches. I'll be adding this to this list of places I need to check out a little better, next time I'm through the area.

After that, called it a day and headed home. Took my time however and tried to take as many backroads as possible. This province of Alberta is pretty beautiful from end to end. From the northern forests to the arid badlands in the southeast. From the west and the eastern slope of the Canadian Rockies, across the foothills and down into the prairies of the east. Alberta is home.

Country Roads

Country Roads

Ruby Falls - December 2016

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.

Noel Jones 4runner - Photo by Noel

Noel Jones 4runner - Photo by Noel

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.

Checking the Depth - Photo by Jason

Checking the Depth - Photo by Jason

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.

Jason's Tacoma on the Way to Ruby Falls - Photo by Noel

Jason's Tacoma on the Way to Ruby Falls - Photo by Noel

Kings of the Hill - Photo by Noel

Kings of the Hill - Photo by Noel

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. 

Breaking Through - Photo by Jason

Breaking Through - Photo by Jason

Dipping the Toes In - Photo by Jason

Dipping the Toes In - Photo by Jason

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.

Getting Strapped Up - Photo by Jason

Getting Strapped Up - Photo by Jason

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.

In the Shadows - Photo by Noel

In the Shadows - Photo by Noel

The falls look amazing frozen. I prefer seeing them like this myself.

Ruby Falls - Photo by Noel

Ruby Falls - Photo by Noel

Trail Dog Loving the Snow - Photo by Noel

Trail Dog Loving the Snow - Photo by Noel

Ruby Falls - Photo by Noel

Ruby Falls - Photo by Noel

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

Colossal 2016 - Part 1
by  Tamarack Media Co. , on Flickr

by Tamarack Media Co., on Flickr

The following is a writeup for a trip RMO member Addison Rickaby planned with his media company Tamarack Media Co

Day 1

There are 4 different weather websites that I frequent to obtain the most accurate prediction of the skies before heading out on a journey. Not that one has proven to be more accurate than the others, but somehow I seem to favor the one showing signs of clearer skies. As if 3 of the 4 predictions are wrong and there really is a glimpse of sunlight to be had for Colossal 2016. It’s something I can irrationally average in my head to make it seem like it’s going to be better than I know it is. The mind is funny that way, always trying to outsmart itself and I’m just along for the ride. Regardless, the forecast wasn’t looking too(very) dry and I was worried that Colossal 2016 would be an epic, wet, soggy bust.

 

All mental averaging aside, this year’s destination resided in the West Kootenay region of British Columbia around some of the most remote mining territory of(from the) late 18th Century. A region quite familiar to me having grown up in the stunning Kootenay valley of Nelson, BC. It’s an area I often encourage my Alberta counterparts to explore on their own time, knowing what a gem it truly is – the natural beauty, the culture, and the peacefulness. Colossal has been happening for 6 years now, although officially dubbed last year, and it felt right to bring it home. It’s the last camping trip of the year. The last weekend to fold out the RTT’s and sleep in the fresh air. The last glimpse of fall before we are forced into hibernation (or ski season!) for the year. But, most of all, I think of it as the last escape – leaving work stress and deadlines behind it’s an excuse to get as deep into the backcountry as possible, disconnecting from our modern world using our trusty Toy’s.

 

Departure day had arrived. This year would be slightly different – full travel disclosure and locations would not be granted prior to departure. Not sure why I chose to do this and realistically it’s something I still would like feedback on. I guess in my eyes; I see the unknown as the necessity of adventure. Not actually knowing where we would be travelling to in the weeks of anticipation prior to this day seemed like a novelty I was willing to enforce.

 

Emails, phone calls, face-to-face meetings, and text messages had been exchanged for weeks pertaining to vehicle preparation but no details were given on the primary location. Included(mandatory) vehicle and camping requirements had us all bustling to prepare our trucks in time for the trip. (Ask me how much sleep Jeff and I got the night before departure…) Wipers on full, I headed for the rendezvous point just outside of Calgary to gather with the group. Greetings exchanged and the clock ticking we hit HWY 1 Westbound for Revelstoke, BC.

by  Tamarack Media Co. , on Flickr

by Tamarack Media Co., on Flickr

by   Tamarack Media Co.  , on Flickr

by Tamarack Media Co., on Flickr

The drive flew buy as chatter on the radio kept boredom at bay and the od(d) hooning stint kept us alert. 10pm passes the Rogers Pass avalanche tunnels with 14 Toyotas sure brings a sense of calm, or was it abruptly loud RPM bouncing acoustics? One of the two. A pit-stop in Revy for fuel and a few choice words with(from) an enthusiastic member of the local Tinder population and we were bound for camp.

by  Tamarack Media Co. , on Flickr

by Tamarack Media Co., on Flickr

We rolled in late with the rain still trickling over our windshields. It looked like my optimistic forecasting method wasn’t working out so well. Regardless, the group was all smiles as we rolled into our large campsite around 11:30pm. Nothing but turning birch trees, the scent of wet pine, and a backdrop of darkness to set our eyes on. Camp quickly deployed and out came the awnings and beverages to help keep us dry/warm. We had an early start to get to our final destination within a reasonable hour the next day, but without a warm dry bed this night, we figured a night-cap was the least we could do.

 

Waking up the next morning was easy – simply rely on your fellow travel companions to alert you of sunrise via the gentle and rhythmic panging of camp cookware as they prepare a breakfast feast for sunrise. All sarcasm aside, the view from our campsite made an early morning justifiable. What was a blanket of darkness the night before appeared to be an epic view of Upper Arrow lake from our campsite. A pebble beach and large moss covered rock bluffs sank into the clear waters of the lake.

by  Tamarack Media Co. , on Flickr

by Tamarack Media Co., on Flickr

by   Tamarack Media Co.  , on Flickr

by Tamarack Media Co., on Flickr

by   Tamarack Media Co.  , on Flickr

by Tamarack Media Co., on Flickr

by   Tamarack Media Co.  , on Flickr

by Tamarack Media Co., on Flickr

by   Tamarack Media Co.  , on Flickr

by Tamarack Media Co., on Flickr

Low lying clouds wrapped our company as we took in the mysterious views and prepared for departure. We shook the water off our tents as best we could, folded up camp, and raced towards Galena Bay to catch the 9am ferry crossing. Cutting it close for time we made forward progress at speeds suited for smooth pavement; not bumpy, rutted, narrow, gravel logging access roads! Our group eagerly drove up to the ferry gate as the first cars in line were already boarding. Arriving a moment later and we would have (been a moment too late)missed the ferry!

by   Tamarack Media Co.  , on Flickr

by Tamarack Media Co., on Flickr

Our group made form and rolled onto the D.E.V Galena as onlookers pointed at the posse of modified Toyotas. The stern deck raised and we started our journey east across Upper Arrow Lake.

by   Tamarack Media Co.  , on Flickr

by Tamarack Media Co., on Flickr

The calm waters and peaceful 20min ferry ride allowed us all to stretch our legs and finish our morning coffee. As we sailed East, the sun’s rays began to burn off the blanket of cloud, illuminating the basin with dramatic visuals. Anticipation was growing in the group, as they still did not know where we were going. Soon I would reveal the area of interest, but first I pulled out the map and reviewed our route once on the opposite shore, towards one of the area’s great mining boom towns of the late 1800’s.

by   Tamarack Media Co.  , on Flickr

by Tamarack Media Co., on Flickr

by   Tamarack Media Co.  , on Flickr

by Tamarack Media Co., on Flickr

by   Tamarack Media Co.  , on Flickr

by Tamarack Media Co., on Flickr

Day 2

The ferry bumped the dock on the opposite shore as the convoy of Toyota’s turned over. The journey quickly turned North once off the ferry onto the desolate highway. Not a single car in either direction as we made the 30 min journey along the mountain’s base to the silver boomtown. Asphalt quickly turned to gravel, leaving us some good tack for more hooning with the still-damp road winding in front of us. It was if God himself had preserved this road specifically for our travel – the smoothest, non-rutted, assortment of earth particulates that I have yet to travel.

by   Tamarack Media Co.  , on Flickr

by Tamarack Media Co., on Flickr

by   Tamarack Media Co.  , on Flickr

by Tamarack Media Co., on Flickr

After enjoying a combination of scenery and pure driving pleasure, we pulled over for a brief driver’s meeting before dropping into the small village. Relics of the long past mining era were visible in all directions: small log huts from the turn of the century and rusted mechanical equipment resided in the awkward mix of more modern amenities. The old western-style hotel looked like it belonged on a movie set for Hollywood’s next great western. Raised home foundations, tin roofs, and the scent of wood burning stoves made the remote location and (an inevitably) abundant winter snowfall evident.

by   Tamarack Media Co.  , on Flickr

by Tamarack Media Co., on Flickr

by   Tamarack Media Co.  , on Flickr

by Tamarack Media Co., on Flickr

The jewel of the town though was the functioning gravity-fed glass gas pump. Our crew rolled up to the pump as the owner looked in surprise down the line of heavily modified Toyotas. I believe he may have met his monthly fuel quota after topping up all of the thirsty rigs. We took turns watching the owner hand pump the fuel from the main tank and up into the glass holding cylinder, before gravity feeding back down to the truck. Now topped up with fuel, we hit the road and headed up to the proposed trail location.

by   Tamarack Media Co.  , on Flickr

by Tamarack Media Co., on Flickr

by   Tamarack Media Co.  , on Flickr

by Tamarack Media Co., on Flickr

by   Tamarack Media Co.  , on Flickr

by Tamarack Media Co., on Flickr

by   Tamarack Media Co.  , on Flickr

by Tamarack Media Co., on Flickr

The road was supposed to wind high up into one of the neighboring mountain ranges, giving us some exceptional views of the surrounding granite peaks. This area is known for not only it’s rich mineral resources, but also its massive granite spires. Unfortunately, the area is known particularly for its ATV trails, not necessarily 4x4 trails. Something that would pose as a challenge for the entire trip ahead.

by   Tamarack Media Co.  , on Flickr

by Tamarack Media Co., on Flickr

The optimism we felt with the sun shining on us during our earlier ferry ride began to fade. Rain clouds had embraced the landscape and it was now raining heavily as we navigated up the road. Many branches of trail headed off in all directions. Even though I had a map in front of me, I had the group led into several dead ends before stumbling on to what looked like a promising lead. It was a fairly tight and rocky trail that appeared to lead up in the direction of our final destination.

by   Tamarack Media Co.  , on Flickr

by Tamarack Media Co., on Flickr

About 5 minutes after entering the track, I pulled around a corner and was confronted by a Ford F350 with a camper over the box. A man stood outside of the cab, looking into the interior. It was pouring rain and as we approached, the man’s line of sight did not falter. I looked at my co-pilot with a “WTF” look on my face. After about 10 seconds of us sitting there awkwardly in the truck, the man turned and saw us, looking startled. I rolled my window down and said hello with a smile to help initiate friendly conversation and break the ice. I asked if he’d been up the trail before and he responded “Ya…..” Again, more awkwardness. I then asked, “Is this the [xxxxx] trail?” The man answered “No….” before starting to walk towards the cab of my truck. He obviously wasn’t too keen on sharing any information with us which made the situation feel rather uncomfortable as he approached. With no filter, the man came right up to the truck and asked what we were doing up here. A little on the defensive, I responded politely (like a Canadian would) hoping to ease the situation but almost ready to make an evasive maneuver if it became necessary. Somewhere in the awkward dialogue that came next he glanced back and saw the line of Toyotas behind #Doug. He instantly came around and smiled, asking “Are you guys a Toyota club?!?!” “Sort of” I said “we are just up here doing some 4x4 exploration in the area and looking for a specific trail.” He was suddenly relieved and excited all at the same time. “I have a gold claim up here” he said “I thought you guys were trying to poach my claim.” My co-pilot and I laughed to ease the tension and we chatted shop with him for a few moments before he turned us around to what he thought was the trail we were after. He asked if he could grab a photo of the group as we left and we obliged. We started to scale the trail in the new direction. As I looked out the window the man was flying down the bumpy logging road that we had just departed, his camper barely hanging onto the truck. He stopped and ran up the bank, nearly slipping several times, to reach a bluff where he pulled out (the very first cell phone with a built in camera) his 1990’s cell phone and began snapping photos of our posse. No harm done, but I still wonder what he was up to and am not really confident in the legitimacy of his story. I can honestly say I’ve never met a man who was able to use the F-bomb with such enthusiasm. Maybe he was afraid of us stumbling onto something he didn’t want us to find? Like Canada’s largest maple syrup conglomerate or the super-secret Canadian bacon factory, or our Prime Minister taking selfies? I’ll let you decide.

by   Tamarack Media Co.  , on Flickr

by Tamarack Media Co., on Flickr

by   Tamarack Media Co.  , on Flickr

by Tamarack Media Co., on Flickr

We carried on for a while, again finding out we were on the wrong trail. Getting slightly frustrated as it was well past noon, we put some of the puzzle pieces together and started to make progress again on a new track. The trail was progressively tight and overgrown. It became an exercise of self-control as to not let the sounds of branches clawing at the paint bother us. Having a white truck, it’s not so bad, but I truly felt sorry for some of the members with darker colored paint, and newer rigs. Everyone took it well though, hoping that a good power polish would take care of the mangled clearcoat.

by   Tamarack Media Co.  , on Flickr

by Tamarack Media Co., on Flickr

The trail continued to rise in elevation but we were eventually pinched off – again reminding me that this area was known for ATV trails not 4x4. Luckily, we were stopped in an area that was easy for us to turn around and the low lying opening we sat in showed spectacular views of the surrounding mountain peaks. Larch trees provided beautiful orange contrast to the familiar green pines. The rock peaks had been lightly dusted with snow, providing even more contrast to the scene.

by   Tamarack Media Co.  , on Flickr

by Tamarack Media Co., on Flickr

by   Tamarack Media Co.  , on Flickr

by Tamarack Media Co., on Flickr

It was truly beautiful and made it easy for us to justify a flight with the drone while we ate a late lunch. We captured some unbelievable footage while flying our drone, “Goose”. A small mishap led to a 3rd Gen T4R with a smashed rear window and a dented tailgate and somewhere in the mix another 4Runner with a flat tire. The day was truly becoming a test of our patience and perseverance. With full stomachs we thought it best to make for camp and attempt a good fire to turn our spirits.

by   Tamarack Media Co.  , on Flickr

by Tamarack Media Co., on Flickr

by   Tamarack Media Co.  , on Flickr

by Tamarack Media Co., on Flickr

The descent was uneventful; everyone just wanted to get back through the gauntlet of branches as quickly as possible. The rain had subsided but the clouds still congested us so we just pushed hard for camp. Once back into town, we had a half hour jog along the lake’s edge. More high speed gravel and we hit the primary destination for the night.

by   Tamarack Media Co.  , on Flickr

by Tamarack Media Co., on Flickr

by   Tamarack Media Co.  , on Flickr

by Tamarack Media Co., on Flickr

The crew crossed the short wooden bridge before spotting our campsite: a large clearing both on the shore of the lake and tributary. The rain was now coming down hard and camp was deployed in record time. The campsite was great other than the lack of thick coniferous to keep us sheltered. Fortunately for us though, there was one old growth cedar which had a firm grasp on one corner of the campsite. It must have been 4’ across at the trunk. Its branches dominated the airspace and also provided us with a 15’ canopy of shelter that kept the rain almost at bay. A large fire was ignited under the natural shelter. Laughter, craft beer, and the flame’s warmth began to bring us all back from the dead. One by one we retired as the long day took it’s hold and we climbed to our elevated shelters.

by   Tamarack Media Co.  , on Flickr

by Tamarack Media Co., on Flickr

The weather was out of my control, and I had accepted that… but it’s still hard not to feel responsible for what, in my opinion, were shortcomings of the journey so far. Weeks of planning, coordination, and genuine commitment from all the attendees; there is always a slight amount of pressure to deliver on the promise of epic views and adventure. Despite the group being some of the (most) positive and happy individuals I could ask for, I still lay in bed praying for clearer skies and wider trails.  

 

Trip ReportAddison Rickaby
Dangerous Recovery

During the week, another RMO member and I went out to try out his new RZR. When I pulled up to the McLean Creek Campers Centre (read - General Store), I was approached by two gentlemen that had gotten themselves stuck. They needed a recovery and they didn't have a cell phone signal and couldn't give a shout out back to town to get someone to come and help them. So they bought a tow rope from the store and waited to see if anyone drove by that could help them.

Luckily we weren't on any sort of timeline and we were able to get them unstuck pretty easily. That's not the point however. The reason for all the backstory on such a simple recovery is because it illustrates a number of problems that led these two gentlemen into their predicament.

First, they were both out in a single vehicle. Of course this breaks a pretty major rule of adventuring in the backcountry in and of itself but there are ways to minimize the risk when you're doing so.

Second, they didn't have any recovery gear or secondary communications. This is where things really broke down for them. IF you are going to go and explore the backcountry on your own, you need to be self sufficient or at the very least be able to communicate back to your home base in case you need assistance.

Third, after getting back to the camper's centre, they attempted to do the right thing and purchased themselves some "recovery" equipment. That way they could flag someone down and not have to worry if the good samaritan had their own recovery gear. Unfortunately it was a tow rope, not a recovery rope or strap. Though the strap was rated for close to the weight of the vehicle needing to be recovered, it was completely under sized for the weight of the combined vehicles and the dynamic forces that might need to be applied. Even worse than this ... the strap had metal hooks on either end. So if/when the hooks fail, a dangerous projectile gets added to the mix.

Fourth and probably most importantly, a lack of education was evident in that they did not know they had made the previous three mistakes. Don't mean to say that they were ignorant ... we all make mistakes. Just a little bit more knowledge couldn't have hurt.

As luck would have it, everything turned out okay. They didn't get stuck far from the road, they were able to catch a ride to the store, someone came along that was willing to help and that person had their own recovery gear, knew how to use it and they didn't need to use their tow rope. The point, after all that, is to say that if any one of those things had turned out differently, so too would the outcome.

Stay safe out on the trail.