and new adventures
We passed up kamloops and decided our path north almost entirely by which road we haven’t driven before. Slow and steady up the highway with no plan or goal each day other than pulling over whenever we’re tired of driving… already starting to feel like our drive south to mexico and central america over 6 years ago. ;)
We had such success with our last campsite and the view out over the river that we might have gotten a bit too confident as we wrapped up our day. Instead of the easy and readily available provincial park and a spot looking out onto a lake we once again continued on looking for something more remote. I had spotted a forest road on the phone i thought might give us riverfront views again and we turned off onto that road despite the turn being almost invisible and covered over from the last gravel road.
The “road” was impossibly narrow and really more of a double track than road but we kept slowly moving forward allowing the van to push branches out of the way and checking to make sure most larger limbs would clear the rack before proceeding. A mile or so of inching along and there was a tree fallen half across the trail. Probably should have been a sign to turn back but there was no clearing at all to turn around so we continued on (after breaking up the limbs and clearing the path as much as we could).
A bit further the trail was really starting to get dicey. The ruts that were providing our path were getting deeper and deeper and we now had barely any clearance under the center of the vehicle. The path was so narrow on both sides we couldn’t hop up onto the center strip and the trail was starting to get muddy and sloppy as the elevation fell off in front of us. Jen (always the level headed among us) suggested i walk ahead and check it out. I could hear the river and assumed just around the next bend there would be a clearing or place to camp looking out at the majestic river i could see in glimpses between the trees…. but that clearing never showed itself.
I also started thinking as i jogged along how this looked a lot like bear country, and then wondered if i should have brought the bear spray with me as i jog down a trail that is quickly closing in to a single track and then almost no trail at all. I finally turned around, let jen know we probably should head back despite not having a place to pull a U turn and we tried several times to reverse out of the predicament we just got ourselves into. No dice.
The tracks were deep enough that we couldn’t turn the front wheels, which made backing around the last curve/turn impossible. Given no other choice, we plodded forward and down the steep hill and the deeper and deeper tracks. Half way down the hill I’m no longer steering or able to stop the van as it’s sliding down the ruts as though on skis and bouncing back and forth between the “rails” and we ride out the descent white knuckled. Just to be clear in case anyone isn’t aware, we don’t own a 4x4 because we enjoy rock crawling or mudding and don’t exactly carry a recovery kit (though we may soon). We have a 4x4 simply so we can get deeper into the forest than the crowds and camp alone, or so we can safely get out of a spot if rain or snow happens overnight… we have just found ourselves a bit out of our league.
At the bottom of the hill we pull a 27point turn in the almost nonexistent clearing between the hill and the mud hole that is the end of the double track section and try to figure out how we’re going to get back up this hill. We’re at least now pointing in the right direction, but also are now aware exactly how narrow, how slanted to the side and how steep this thing is and while I’m not planning to share it with jen- I’m not actually sure we’re going to get out of here.
We back up as far as possible and make a good running start at the hill but come to a stop and start spinning out in the worst of it. No choice but to roll/slide back downhill and try again. I back up again and we try the ascent a few more times with even less luck. I check briefly for my own piece of mind but were out of cell range. Of course.
Don’t get me wrong, maybe if we had a nice view of the river and a clearing to better see the bears coming we would have been happy to settle in and call this home for a while… but we really needed to get up this hill and out of this pit. I backed up one more time before throwing in the towel, made sure our rear tires were as close as possible to the mudpit behind us without sinking into it and laid the pedal down. We bounced back and forth in the rails about halfway up the hill and past the worst of it before the tires caught traction and threw us up and out of the ruts but pointed us up a tree berm to our left at the same time. Luckily we stopped the van before hitting said tree, caught our breath while standing on the brake and looking outside to make sure we indeed weren’t sliding (or now rolling) back downhill, and then plunged ahead for the second half of the hill.
We made it! Van intact (though almost nothing still within the cabinet it started in) and hearts in our throats, we decided without speaking to find our way off this trail and back to a spot with more breathing room. As good as riverfront sounded, something with elevation and looking out over our surroundings suddenly sounded devine. Didn’t hurt that a few miles in we spotted a bear running down the dirt road in front of us and disappearing into the brush.
We made our camp just over the next hill, toasted our freedom and health (and the van for actually getting us out of there) from the roofrack and waited for sunset as we hoped for wildlife to show itself from our viewing platform. Note to self when we’re back online… start shopping for a winch and recovery gear package. ;)