TAKING THE ROAD LESS TRAVELLED
As we left the trail, I looked at my odometer; we’d covered a scant six kilometres in the past thirteen hours. Thick mud had slowed progress and much winching had ensued. However, the two-metre log bridge we had been forced to construct to get over the final hurdle would be what we’d all talk about for years to come.
Trips like this are what create mettle, and bond folks in friendships that last lifetimes. We had to rely on each other as we cut and lashed logs together and then, in the dark, guided five Land Rovers over our makeshift bridge with flashlights. The logs creaked and cracked as each two ton plus truck crossed, but in the end we all made it safely to the other side.
I’ve had the opportunity to explore many parts of our great country and, like the adventure described above, each trip started with careful planning. And for over twenty years, my plans for getting off the beaten path have always started with a Backroad mapbook. A friend described these books as “the ultimate outdoor adventure guide” and that really sums it up nicely.
The front section of the books includes extremely detailed maps with all kinds of information; logging roads, backcountry campsites, hiking trails, canoe routes, Crown land and much more. The back section contains written descriptions of various outdoor adventures, including backroad attractions, hiking trails, canoe routes, hunting WMUs, ATV trails, snowmobile routes, details of almost every lake and the fish found in each one and more.
No matter which type of outdoor recreation you are pursuing, these books can give you a big advantage. Whenever I’m out and about (pardon my Canadianness), I always have a Backroad Mapbook with me. On many occasions, I’ve headed out with just a couple of free hours and discovered a new logging road or hiking trail with the help of these books.
Hmm, almost sounds like an advertisement? Yes, in a way you’re right. I’m going to ‘fess up and say I am an ambassador and one of the research writers for the books. This gives me the
opportunity to attend outdoor related shows to tell folks about the books and, something I enjoy even more, to hear about their own outdoor adventures using the Backroad Mapbooks. And for me, as I research particular areas, I discover new natural attractions, trails and more which I make a note of to try and explore in the future.
When I purchased my first 4x4, I gravitated to these books to discover trails to kick up some mud. However, now I more often use the books as a way to get off the beaten path, finding a route to a more remote location to hike, canoe or snowshoe. I’d like to briefly share a couple of these adventures.
A few years ago I had the opportunity to travel through eastern BC and western Alberta in a Land Rover. We covered a huge distance, about seventy percent of it on logging roads, and the BRMB for these areas was our main guide. We used it to find out-of-the-way hiking trails, hot springs and waterfalls, and along the way had the opportunity to view some amazing
wildlife, including grizzly bears. While in Kelowna, we spent an afternoon exploring routes to James and Postill Lakes behind my sister’s place, which she didn’t even know existed.
When we traveled the Fundy Trail, we found numerous back roads described in the New Brunswick book that led us from Saint John to Martin Head. The trails section helped us zero in on the best spots to discover the most spectacular maritime scenery.
Most recently though, we took a trip around Lake Superior and, having done research for the Northern Ontario books, found some spots we might have missed otherwise. There are plenty of awesome backroads to explore in Northern Ontario, all shown in the BRMB.
Having had the opportunity to research locations for books all across Canada, all I can say is that (and I’m sure I’m already speaking to the converted) we have an awesome country. The motto on the back of my off-road teardrop trailer is “I haven’t been everywhere, but it’s on my list.” As retirement approaches in a scant few years, I can see hooking that trailer up to my 4x4 and exploring all that Canada has to offer. See you on the trails!
Crossing our log bridge to finally get out of a muddy trail near Mattawa. Exploring a trail in the Five Points area of Bobcaygeon.
A side trail off the Icefields Parkway in Alberta.
Excerpt from Thompson Okanagan Backroad Mapbook.
The end of the Top of the Giant Trail in Sleeping Giant Provincial Park, 290 metres (950 feet) above Lake Superior.