In the final attempt to make something of 2020, I set off with two friends from Toronto to do an overland expedition of Western Canada. Unlike typical trips, there was still a pandemic going on, so we didn’t spend any time in provincial / national parks. Rather, we elected to explore the vast network of forest service roads / logging roads where we were mostly by ourselves. Not only was this the safest option for travel during a pandemic, but we got the chance to discover some hidden gems as well. The goal was simple – stay safe, explore the beautiful nature of Western Canada, and capture the experience in a short cinematic film. What we found in the end was mind-blowing:
The expedition vehicle
For this expedition, we were only using one vehicle, my 2009 Toyota FJ Cruiser, so it was especially important to make sure that the vehicle was fully and properly equipped to be able to navigate the off-road conditions. On solo vehicle expeditions like this, it pays to be over prepared.
Vehicle Upgrades / Recovery Gear
The vehicle upgrades were modest, but enough to handle the job:
• A Bilsten 5100 kit and OME front and rear springs
• a Coastal Offroad High Clearance Front Bumper
• Upgraded roof rack with a hard shell rooftop tent
• Flood lights
• Aluminum skid plate armour
• ARB side awning
For recovery gear, we wanted to be prepared, but also light and efficient. Therefore, we narrowed it down to the following:
• Wrenches, socket set, breaker bar
• Factory Bottle Jack
• Coast Offroad Front Bumper fitted with a 10,000 lb winch
• Skid plate armour
• Recovery Gear Bag (Snatch Block, Trunk Saver, Kinetic Strap, Tow Strap, Shackles)
• Air compressor
• Tire Repair Kit
• Car Battery Booster
The initial haul from Toronto to Vancouver Island was a test of endurance. We averaged about 12 hours of driving each day to make it there in 4 days for a total of 48 hours on the road. In this time, we covered over 4,500 kms / 2,800 miles. Needless to say, we were quite toast after that 4-day stretch.
We needed to make a quick stop on Vancouver Island when we got there, and after a few days of rest and recovery, we took the ferry back onto the mainland where the real adventure began. We started at Harrison Lake (just northeast of Chilliwack) and headed into the trails. On the west side of British Columbia, there was a constant mist of light rain while we were there, but we were well prepared for the conditions to stay dry and warm during camp. We made a quick stop at the hot springs, and proceeded out to Nahatlatch Fire Lookout, where we got to see some breathtaking views of the mountains and the valley.
From there, we headed east to Spillimacheen where we entered into the trails again and found ourselves deep into the mountains. This was on the east side of British Columbia, and the climate was the opposite of what we experienced on the west side – it was much drier and most of the days were clear and sunny. We were extremely lucky to get the weather that we did, otherwise, shooting any scenic footage would have been next to impossible!