Over the past few days the sun has finally made an appearance in Kamloops again so a few of us here at Rivershore decided that it would be a good weekend for a little snow wheeling adventure. Of course the sun did not make an appearance for us, but it was a phenomenal day none the less. We re-learned a few key lessons, but walked away with a few good stories and and a smile on our faces. We took two Jeeps out a YJ and a JK and then a Nissan Pathfinder and Dodge Ram. We took off up into the hills of Barnhartvale with the plan to head up to Scuitto Lake.The drive up was gorgeous and other than the Ram needing two runs up a hill we really had no issue. Once we got to the lake we stopped for a few photo ops.
From Scuitto we decided that we might try to run up to Hosli lake, which is the same trail we use for Take Your Top Off for Tata’s. Once we got to the deactivation in the road we quickly discovered our first lesson of the day. A road that is a breeze in the summer can become a million times harder with the addition of snow, and lockers are a life saver. The only one of us that had lockers was the YJ so in retrospect he should have been clearing the trails with the rest of us following but hind sight is always 20/20 right. So the JK was the first to get stuck trying to clear a new path. Thankfully it wasn’t bad and a little gas and a friendly push was all it took to get it out.
We quickly decided that Hosli would not be a good choice for our second destination and instead chose to venture up to Campbell lake. I couldn’t have been more pleased with our decision. The drive was absolutely stunning!! Which leads me into lesson two. If you are traveling in a group and there are people behind you check your review mirror often. Normally, this isn’t an issue for me, but I got so distracted with how stunningly beautiful it was I left everyone behind and ended up at the lake all alone. This did allow me to get a few photo’s before having to go back to find the rest of the group.
Once I headed back up the path it didn’t take me long to find out what was holding everyone else up and we learned the next few lessons of the day. Breakage can happen. When you least expect it things can and will break. Thankfully in our case it was simply a broken shock bolt so it wasn’t the end of the world but it’s something that you should always be aware of and while you can’t carry a spare of everything it is a good idea to have a fairly good idea of how your vehicle works, a few tools on hand, and a plan of what to do just in case. The Ram in the group was the second of the day to get stuck and this was when we discovered that we were slightly unprepared and should have brought along something in area of kitty litter. We were unable to get traction and the addition of something like kitty litter would have made the whole unsticking process much smoother. All ended well and we were able to get the Ram out, broken shock bolt and all.
Once the Ram was clear we as a group headed back down to the lake. We had another lesson on the way though. Snow like mud can be very tricky. It will sink you into ruts and ditches you don’t want to be in and it can be a whole lot deeper than it looks. The remaining three of us got stuck in drifts/deep snow on the way back down to the lake but with a little careful driving and a tow strap they were all quick recoveries.
Finally we made our way to the lake, where after a quick photo op we stopped for some lunch and to take in the beauty of the area. The only lesson that was learned at this point is that the best way to spend a Sunday is in the company of awesome friends and some beautiful scenery.
After lunch we decided to head back to town with one quick detour which is where we learnt a few more lessons and the most important lesson of the day. Our first lesson was that as soon as you decide you are ready to go home and deviate from that path you will get stuck. It is like an unwritten law, it always happens and it is always a pain. Our second lesson here was that as inviting as a path looks, in the winter there are hidden obstacles and issues and you can never trust the snow.
We made it just around the corner and then slight chaos ensued. The YJ a hundred yards back got stuck, while the Nissan got stuck leading us in. So after the Ram dug out the YJ we went to work on the Nissan and this proved to be where we learned our most valuable lesson of all. Always come prepared, in fact come over prepared. All of us know that you don’t go out wheeling without a shovel yet somehow not one of us brought one. So after carefully digging out around the Nissan with a snow brush we hooked on a tow strap and attempted to make the recovery. Instead of pulling out the Nissan the JK sunk in and ended up in a ditch of its own getting itself stuck as well. So the next plan of action was for the YJ to tow out the JK then come back for the Nissan. This did not go as planned. Because of how slippery snow can get it ended up sinking the JK even further into the ditch. So with us slowly running out of options we broke out the come along and trekked through some waist deep snow and tried pulling out the JK that way. While we managed to get it moving a little bit we ran out of tow rope and that plan quickly failed. So the digging with the snow brushes ensued and once we got the Nissan dug out enough we managed to get it chained up and with some very skilled driving we got it out. Then the digging on the JK started. Digging through waist deep snow in -11 temperatures is not the most fun thing I can think of doing but it really sunk in how important it is to be prepared. All in our quick detour led to three hours of recovery time but we all made it out safe and sound just as the sun was coming down, which led to another beauty drive home.
Overall the day was a success. We all had a ton of fun and some great laughs and our friendship is stronger now because of it. However, we all also learnt some valuable lessons. While we managed to avoid any real danger, as we always had at least one vehicle able to get us out and we were only a 20 min hike away from cell service, the situation could have been a lot worse. As of this morning I know we are all looking at chains, and shovels for our vehicles, but we all now have learned to never go out unprepared or expecting someone else to be prepared. We all think that these types of situations will never happen to us, but they can, especially in the winter when you can never be sure of the conditions. Even when you think things are going to be OK, things can and will go wrong, and you should always have a way out or be prepared enough to spend the night in the bush if you have to. Wheeling in the winter is incredible and it’s something that I think everyone should have the joy of doing at least once in their life. But it takes planning, and the understanding that getting stuck in the middle of nowhere in sub zero temperatures is a whole lot different than getting stuck on a summer night. Life threatening situations arise a whole lot quicker. So if you are going to go out and enjoy the beauty that this city has to offer, go in a group, be smart, let someone know the area you are heading into with an idea of when you will be home, and most of all plan ahead, prepare and then go back and bring more just in case. It’s always better to unpack a whole bunch of stuff that you didn’t use at the end of the day than be stuck in the middle of no where with no cell service wishing you would have brought it.