The yearly XPED BC open-invite group trip, dubbed “Roam Wild”, was another success in 2018. A group of six trucks set out in October to complete a multi-day back country loop through the mountains of the South Chilcotin. With such iconic place names as Poison Mountain, Davey Jones Creek, and China Head Road, any time spent in the area is enjoyable. The group saw a few regulars from previous outings, as well as some new faces and rigs that responded to the open invite posted on our facebook page.
JC/Kyle – Sequoia
Andrew – 4Runner
Ryan/Jenny – 4Runner
Cam – Durango
Curt/Terry + Emma the dog – Land Cruiser
Danny – Jeep JKU
This is part 1 of the Roam Wild 2018 trip report, which covers Andrew and myself (JC) taking a few days to explore some new areas and convoy north to meet the rest of the group for the main event.
As with most days travelling east out of the Fraser Valley, I met up with Andrew at the Blue Moose Cafe in Hope for some real coffee and to go over some maps. After fueling up and a radio check, we drove on Hwy 1 to the Boston Bar area where we would leave pavement for the first time in Alexandra Bridge Provincial Park.
The fall colours were in full swing as we bumped down the Anderson River Main, and then onto the Ottomite Mtn Forest Road.
It was easy 2wd and the slow climb up the valley was uneventful for the most part. We encountered two wash outs which reduced the width of the road. The 4runner had a fairly easy time but the Sequoia just barely scraped through. The views were increasingly a treat for the eyes.
Apparently I was too busy paying attention to the views, and not to the road. While going through a small cross ditch, I dropped the front passenger tire off the driving surface and came to rest with the lower control arm resting on a rock. Whoops.
A quick re-adjustment and we were through without any more trouble. The road was not technical, but there was always something different to make it enjoyable.
Carrying on we came across a big log blocking the road. After recently taking a course on winching skills from Overlanding BC, I decided it was a perfect opportunity to put my brushed-up skills to work and clear the path. We didn’t use a line damper as the log slid quite easily.
There are a few spur-roads off the Ottomite Mtn Road and we took the time to explore some before setting up camp. The road network is quite old and hasn’t been used much recently so there were some rough spots and we turned around several times.
The sun was setting, and it was time to find camp for the first night of our trek. We hoped to find a spot nearby and began poking around some of the off-shoots from the main road.
Just prior to reaching our camp spot, a young black bear scrambled across the trail. He quickly disappeared into the new growth roadside so we didn’t get a close look – but it was nice to confirm we were out where the beasts roam.
There was a level spot in an old cutblock we found, which also afforded a nice view, and here is where we set up camp. Both Andrew and I utilize a sleeping/storage platform in the back of our trucks so the setup is minimal. Some minor filming was done in relation to the Tailgater Tire Table for a future project.
With the bear sighting in mind, Andrew was on his way to find a bathroom tree and I chucked a rock in the bushes nearby. The result was exactly as I had hoped and we had a good laugh about it (at least I did).
On the morning of day 2, we putted around some more roads but kept finding roadblocks in the way of giant washouts, and downed trees much to large for winching or cutting. With that road system ticked off the list, the plan was to return to pavement and hit up Fat Jacks for lunch. It was a good idea.
Continuing north toward Lillooet, we messed around with capturing photos of moving vehicles, just to get some practice and take a break from driving.
We arrived in the next town and found ourselves at Lightfoot Gas, located in Lillooet. Freshly refueled, we hit the dirt again to the south of town and spent another night in the wild.
We followed this little creek (left unnamed) up a valley to a favourite hiking and wilderness area to find camp for night #2.
As usual, we were racing the clock to be able to setup and cook in daylight, but the road would have other plans for us. We hit snow around the 6000 foot mark and it made for tricky exits to the truck-swallowing cross ditches.
Andrew became stuck in the bottom of one, even with the tires aired down and rear locker engaged. The lack of traction in the snow and the steepness of the exit was a good combination to make dinner a late one. I backed up and began unpacking the recovery strap. Suddenly, the 4runner aggressively clawed its way up and out of the ditch all on its own… I wasn’t sure if Andrew had actually been stuck or if he was just messing with me, but it was all part of the fun.
Note to self – keep the recovery strap more accessible to save time!
We reached the head of the valley and enjoyed steak skewers cooked over a big fire, all while sitting under a starry sky with clouds wisping by. It was another good night with good weather, albeit a bit chillier due to elevation, but that’s what fire is for.
The catabatic wind gusts shook the trucks overnight, but unlike the flapping of tent walls, it was very comfortable sleeping inside the truck with the windows cracked.
Waking up on day three, we were able to see the fullness of the views hidden by darkness the night before.
It was too bad there wasn’t enough time for a hike where the road ended, as there are several alpine lakes just out of view a few hundred feet higher. Today was another big day as we were finally meeting up with the rest of the group, who had mainly been hampered by prior commitments and life responsibilities.
Back in Lillooet, we filled up again at Lightfoot Gas (10 cents/L cheaper than the day before). This is when a buddy, Kyle, met us in town and jumped in the Sequoia to ride shotgun for the rest of the trip. Two of the main coffee shops in town were closed, presumably for winter hours or the coming winter season. We did, however, find a great bakery called The Dancing Bun which was just perfect. We had just enough time to scarf down some organic fancy coffee and a monstrous pastry (shared between us), before meeting up with the rest of the group on the edge of town. Unfortunately, this is when the vehicle troubles began!
Standby for Part Two, where the group heads out into the remote alpine for several days, experiencing more snow, high winds and temperatures of -17 Celsius. Of course there were smiles and scenic vistas thrown into the mix.