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Trip of the Year: Our Road to Adventure

Updated: Oct 18, 2023

Embarking on our journey, it all began in the typical way: a vague direction for the first couple of nights and a loose notion of our ultimate destination. As our adventurous spirit grows, it propels us toward more remote and challenging locales, testing our preparedness, only to discover that our confidence was misplaced. This trip was an eye-opener, reminding us of the paramount importance of meticulous route planning.


The summer of 2023 had an unusual dry spell, with scarce rain from May to September. So, naturally, on the day we had earmarked for the start of our 10-day trip to Powell River, the weather forecast turned sour, predicting heavy rain. We quickly pivoted our plans, rerouting to Clinton, through the Gang Ranch, and ultimately to Tŝilhqox Biny (Tsyle-koh Bee), formerly known as Chilko Lake. With very little day-to-day planning in place, we felt emboldened by our past adventures, believing we were well-prepared for whatever lay ahead.


We reveled in the spontaneity of exploring areas that often yielded nothing but sometimes unveiled experiences we could never have scripted. This trip was no exception. Regrettably, I became complacent in terms of route planning, leaning on Darren to chart our course. He prepared some wonderful routes to which I simply responded with "sounds fun." This was an unfair burden on Darren, as we soon discovered that many of the roads marked on his backroads map were, in fact, nonexistent. After much retracing of our steps, you'd think I would have learned my lesson, but alas, I did not.


Now, with hindsight, I wouldn't trade this experience for anything. It's one of those journeys that inspires you, making the mundane daily grind feel worthwhile. Before this trip, we contemplated the idea of switching to a Sprinter van, but our Lexus GX470 has lead us to such extraordinary places that no van could access. While we will still explore that avenue someday, for the next few years, this adventure has spurred us to double down on our love for this type of overlanding, marking the dawn of a new phase in our outdoor lifestyle.


This leg of our journey marked the second-to-last day as we made our way back to Victoria. Darren and I examined the route together, although I had yet to realize that my GAIA maps didn't have offline maps prepared for the following day. With half a tank of fuel, we assumed it would suffice. The next morning, we set off, expecting a leisurely 2-3 hour drive along picturesque, easy roads. The reality was far from it.


Most of the roads matched our expectations, though they proved considerably slower than anticipated, forcing us to remain in low range for 3-4 hours. We had underestimated the steep ascents and descents, and fuel anxiety crept in quickly. Without my own maps, I was reliant on Darren for distance updates made worse by our mistake to charge our radios. I was left to trust that we had enough fuel.


Then came the switchbacks, unlike any we had encountered before, with steep banks and washouts, reducing our speed to a crawl. Even with our route planning, we still confronted challenges that, fortunately, resulted in only minor scratches. Exhaustion had begun to set in, the point where mistakes tend to happen, so reaching the bottom was a profound relief, marked by someone's abandoned bumper, serving as a stark warning of the road's impending challenges for drivers attempting the climb.


Thinking we had overcome the worst, we turned a corner only to find the road submerged in water, resembling a lake. Stripping down to my underwear, I waded through the thigh-high water, relieved to discover the ground was solid beneath. Both lifted vehicles managed to navigate the unexpected obstacle, although it proved deeper than we initially thought.


That evening, our dinner and campfire were filled with elation, stemming from both the relief that the day was behind us and the incredible experiences we had encountered. This journey ignited a spark within us, prompting us to start blogs, establish branding, enhance our vehicles, and eagerly plan for the next adventure. Hopefully, this time, we'll be better prepared... until the next unforeseen challenge beckons, leaving us wondering why we weren't better equipped.

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Jean Gilgan
Jean Gilgan
26 oct. 2023

Sounds exciting but be safe says Mom

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