Off-roading in snow to get to our adventure
All of our off-roading is tied to an activity. Off-roading allows us to explore places we love and get away from the crowds. We often don’t share the activity that goes with the driving or car posts and thought we would so people can see the whole picture. We put together a short video to give you further insight.
There was no snow when driving to the forestry road that would take us to the trail head for the backcountry hut. We could see light snow on the tops of the mountains around us but we weren’t going to a peak, we were heading to a mountain valley. Our first thought was - whoops we didn’t bring the right shoes to hike to the hut we had focused on skiing in.
As we turned onto the brown forestry road and started the 50km drive we were still amazed at the lack of snow. About 30kms up we started to see sprinkles but not enough to ski on. Finally at the last 15kms the snow appeared and it gained quickly. We found ourselves getting stuck in deep snow on an icy road and knew we had to back track and park further away from the trailhead as planned since the road wasn’t accessible. Even if we got to the trailhead we were concerned if it snowed would we be able to get out. We found a lower evevation area of the road on a straight stretch believing it will be good as an exit. The forestry road is cleared about 30kms and then the last 20kms to the backcountry hut trailhead is not cleared, as it is not used by the mine close by.
We were two families going on this adventure. Four adults, two 10 year olds, a 8 year old and one puppy. Our kids have backpacked before but never on skis. The adults were using touring skis and the kids were going in on x-country skis. Everyone had a big backpack with sleeping bags, food, water, hut booties, spare clothes, etc. Most Canadian backcountry huts are a far hike / ski / snowmobile in. We choose this particular hut because the hut was only 1.4kms from the trailhead. However, due to the snowy road we were now going to have to ski 5kms. That might not sound far but with elevation gain, heavy backpacks, sticky snow and little legs we knew it was hours of skiing.
We started our ski at about 2:30pm, early November. The ski in with rests took about 4 hours. There were no tracks, we required to break trail in about a foot of snow, crossed narrow bridges and climbed up forest trails. The sunsets close to 5pm plus being in the mountains and overcaste we had to pull out the headlamps the last hour. It was hard work but the kids love hut trips. They were exhausted but so happy.
The hut comes with beds with mats, a wood stove, wood to chop, pots and cookware. We quickly filled big pots with snow to start making water. We ate delicious curry and rice and enjoyed playing cards and the warm tiny space together.
The next day is snowed! It snowed so much when we went for a ski around the valley it was back up to our knees.
We stayed 3 nights at the hut, melting water, eating delicious food, playing games, chopping wood, skiing around and enjoying our time together. Our second day there were breaks of blue skies and less snow.
Our ski out was another heavy snow day. Our packs were a little lighter as we said goodbye to the hut and started our trek back to the car. The snow was sticky. It was easier for the adults on wide touring skis where the x-country skis didn’t glide as well and push through snow as easily.
Around 3 kms into the 5 km ski out we had the dads go ahead to start digging out the vehicles as we could see the new snow was plentiful. We had radios to be able to communicate with each other. The kids and moms went our own pace feeding the last of the candy to the kids and trying to keep spirites up in the tiring ski out. One of the 10 year olds started telling scary stories and WOW that was a game changer. No one stopped skiing while listening and the last 45 minutes of the ski were bliss and stop free. Storytelling is an art and one I think I will focus on harnessing and supporting in everyone around me. The kids realized the power of the stories to keep their minds off the task at hand and think about something else.
Trips like this take a lot of planning and are physically challenging for adults and kids. However, when the kids beg to do it again and ask when the next hut trip is you know it’s worth it. Huts are slow living that require constant work chopping wood, stoking fires, melting water, making food, keeping everything clean from mouse poop. They give you time to enjoy the people around you and enjoy an adventure.
The drive out was epic. The new snow was often up to our waists and we knew we had about 20kms to the cleared forestry road. Thankfully our Sequoia and our friends 4Runner have studded tires and are both lifted. We used 4H and 4L with locked Diff and usually in gear 3. We needed to dig out snow drifts a few times. The road was passble and we got to the snow plowed road with more ease than we expected. We stopped in a town for a much deserved meal and headed home. We look forward to sharing our love of backcountry skiing with our kids more.
Enjoy the journey.