By Glenna Barron
For those who know even a little about it, overlanding conjures up visions of traversing rugged terrain, of meeting new cultures, of camping in remote locations and of embracing "the journey." That is the heart of overlanding. What makes overlanding different from off-roading is that it is not just about overcoming obstacles in the terrain. While off-roading is greatly enjoyable, and many overlanders do it, they have cultivated a different ethos for their pursuit of adventure. Overlanding is about adventure between a starting and finishing point, of wanderlust and traversing remote regions often underexplored and underdocumented. It can be over difficult-to-manoeuvre terrain — a good example was the Camel Trophy event — but it can also be on easier to drive secondary roads and trails in remote locations, respectfully using them in the Tread Lightly! ® spirit. Always the vehicles are self-sufficient, ready for much of what they might encounter over trips of many days to many years, and at the close of each day, camp is set up.
And so the story goes for five stalwart friends who ventured into a remote region of British Columbia, Canada, their journey spanning hundreds of breathtaking and inspiring kilometres.
The journey was what it was about: exploring, each day bringing unique challenges, exhilarating terrain, seeing and doing things that would be woven into stories to be told again and again. Trail lore. Overlanding lore.
The friends navigated a desert area where glaciers had deeply incised mountains; today, velvety sagebrush, cacti and other plant life adorn them, fragile in their existence. It was an area where First Nations once fished for abundant salmon from the Fraser River and hunted herds of wildlife. Later, white settlers moved in to farm; their now decaying cabins dotting the hillsides, thousands of metres above the Fraser River. The roads and trails, some graded and some exquisitely rugged, perched on avalanche-prone hillsides, open to big sky, offering thrilling views. From there, the friends followed a once-wide logging road that became narrower with each passing kilometre, rarely used, nature reclaiming it. Small landslides roughened the trail, providing some off-camber thrills on the way down. Fallen trees blocked the trail, necessitating pruning and removal. The team worked efficiently to make the trail passable, always with safety in mind. This was where trust borne of many trips taken together, the camaraderie, bonded them further.
Around the campfire every night, the five recalled events of the day, each person adding their flavour to a hearty story soup, pausing once in awhile to savour the peace and joy that comes of being in locations that not many of us get to enjoy. Locations that leave a mark on your soul, calling to you again and again. It is a feeling, a melody, that settles in your mind, making itself comfortable: "The adventure is calling, and I must go; must go and live the life about which people write novels."