This year, the Whipsaw trail became the first Canadian trail to be added to the BFGoodrich Outstanding Trails program. The program was created to honour trails that have a significant meaning to the off-road community, and to support those groups that are working to preserve them for future generations of off-roaders. In the case of the Whipsaw trail, the group that has taken on the primary responsibility for the trail's preservation is the Rover-Landers 4x4 club. On September 15, they hosted a trail run to introduce some representatives from BFG to the Whipsaw.
Due to the large number of vehicles expected to participate, a high degree of organization was required. The 7:00am drivers' meeting in Princeton (about 15 minutes from the trail head) began exactly on time. Coffee, donuts, and lunches (generously provided by BFG) were distributed, and waivers were signed (not for the food, for the trail!). Instructions on the order of vehicles, scheduled stops, and procedures for handling trail side breakdowns were issued. This was a crucial bit of information because some of the BFG people had flights to catch after the trail run, so we had to get through the trail in a reasonable amount of time. The typical 4x4 symptom of congregating for hours around a broken vehicle, or extending photo opportunities into lunch stops, had to be avoided at all costs. Any breakdowns had to be pushed to the side of the trail where support teams would help them out.
We left the staging area by 7:45am which, in my opinion, was a very impressive start considering that there were about 25 vehicles in the group. Most were Land Rovers, but there were a few guests of the Rover-Landers who were driving Jeeps and one Toyota. I was riding with Wil in his big Toyota, and we were assigned number 23, which put us near the very back of the pack.
The weather on this fine Saturday morning showed great promise. The sky was deep blue and free of clouds. And because it was September, there was no danger of being swarmed by mosquitoes or black flies. The only hardship would be dust. Lots of fine, talc-like dust kicked up by the 20 or so Land Rovers in front of us. The dust issue began just after we aired down at the start of the trail and would plague us for the rest of the day. My only consolation was that everyone else was suffering with it, too.
By 9:05am, the first victim of the push-it-to-the-side-of-the-trail proclamation appeared. A Defender 110 was having over-heating issues. After holding up the line for a few minutes, the group continued on with the Defender and a couple of support vehicles remaining behind to deal with the problem. Our first scheduled stop was at the trapper's cabin. We stretched our legs, took some photos, and marvelled at how many vehicles were on the trail.
Shortly after we continued on our way, another Defender was left on the side of the trail. Chad's Land Rover was experiencing an intermittent no-start condition so he and his brother, Ryan, stayed behind to fix it.
As usual, the scenery was stunning. The beautiful weather gave us clear views of the neighbouring mountain peaks and we all felt very lucky to be there. This is the kind of back country scenery that puts the meaning into "Beautiful BC." Unfortunately, we also got to see the indirect reasons for why we were here. We stopped at some of the more egregious examples of off-trail mud bogging where thoughtless fourwheelers have scarred the meadows with deep, ugly ruts. Besides damaging this sensitive environment, these ruts and bogs create problems for ranchers who are responsible for keeping the area in a condition suitable for range land. If the Ministry of Forests decides that the land is not being kept in good condition, they could close access to the area which results in ranchers losing range land and motorized recreationists losing yet another trail system. The Rover-Landers have been posting signs asking motorized recreations to stay on the trail. In my opinion, the signs appear to have helped to some degree, because the bogs didn't look as bad as I remembered them. But off-trail fourwheeling is still occurring and needs to be stopped.
We stopped for lunch at Hudson's Meadow where Joe Mazur, BFG's Light-Truck Brand Category Manager, talked to us about the Outstanding Trails program. Although BFG has a strong presence in off-road racing, they are very well aware of the importance that back country trails have in introducing people to four-wheeling, and their Outstanding Trails program is a way for them to give back to the four wheeling community, as well as acknowledging the spirit of the people involved in the sport. Mazur also mentioned that there are groups who are trying to take these trails away, so efforts by groups such as the Rover-Landers are particularly important and should be recognized. In closing, he presented a the Rover-Landers with a cheque for $4,000 to support them in their work to preserve the trail and maintain access for motorized recreationists. BFG also gave away a variety of door prizes. Chris, a member of the Rover-Landers, won the big prize, a $1,000 gift certificate good for any BFG products.
Speaking of which, an example of the brand new BFG MT tire was also on display. It bears a striking resemblance to the Krawler competition tire, and is clearly designed for off-roaders who have been gravitating to the more aggressive end of the radial tire spectrum. The primary difference of the new MT vs. the classic MT is that it had improved sidewall strength, which they refer to as Crawler Tech. It features thicker cords, a different rubber compound, and more rubber in the sidewall. Greater sidewall strength is something that most four wheelers around here can appreciate, due to the stumps and roots that we are often sliding into. Phase 1 of the tire's introduction began this month, and focuses on the 17" wheel size. The 2nd phase begins next year with the introduction of 15" and 16" wheel sizes.
After lunch, the group continued on to Wells Lake, then to Lodestone Lake, and finally down to Coalmont and back to paved roads. One Range Rover blew a front end on the climb up Falcon Hill but I wasn't there to witness it. Wil and I had to head back to the coast so we turned around before Wells Lake.
The Rover-Landers did a magnificent job of herding that many vehicles through the trail, and we were very privileged to have such wonderful weather for this very important trip. I'd like to thank BFGoodrich for supporting the four wheeling community, and the Rover-Landers for taking care of the Whipsaw trail.
Here are some panorama photos from the trip. If you click on them, you'll be linked to the 360 degree Quicktime panorama movies.
Apple's free Quicktime player is required to view panorama files.
You can download it here:http://www.apple.com/quicktime/download/win.html.
BFG's Official Press Release
PRINCETON, British Columbia - Sept. 15, 2007 - Nestled in the rugged wilderness of the Cascade Mountains, lies the beautiful Whipsaw Trail recognized today by BFGoodrich Tires. The well-known public off-road trail was honored as one of their 2007 Outstanding Trails for its uniqueness, history and scenic views. More than 50 off-road enthusiasts from the Rover-Landers club of British Columbia (BC) were in attendance as BFGoodrich representatives presented a grant to the club. The grant will be used to preserve the scenic trail and allow for the continuation of conservation efforts for one of Canada's most picture-perfect areas.
BFGoodrich Tires, working in conjunction with Tread Lightly!r and United Four Wheel Drive Associations (UFWDA) launched the Outstanding Trails program in 2006 and over the course of two years has recognized eleven trails. Whipsaw is one of six trail locations being recognized by BFGoodrich this year. A long time favorite of B.C. off-roaders, Whipsaw is well-known for its breathtaking views and challenging off-road obstacles.
"The Whipsaw Trail offers something for every skill level and combines off-road adventure with unbelievable views," said Joe Mazur, light truck brand category manager for BFGoodrich Tires. "We're honored to team up with groups like the Rover-Landers of British Columbia to help in the conservation efforts and ensure this area will continue to stay in tact and safe for all future visitors."
The Rover-Landers of British Columbia is a registered non-profit society for Land Rover enthusiasts in and around British Columbia. The club strives to bring together people of common interest to enjoy off-road driving and share information regarding the maintenance, restoration and preservation of Land Rover vehicles.
"We are so pleased to see that the Tread Lightly attitude seems to be getting to all corners of the off-road community," said David Blair, Rover-Landers vice president. "Over the past several decades, the ecosystems along the Whipsaw Trail have been damaged and need recovery from overuse and mud-bogging. Being recognized as an Outstanding Trail helps us continue to restore and preserve one of the most beautiful trails in all of British Columbia."
The following additional five trails the BFGoodrich Tires Outstanding Trails program recognizes for 2007 are:
In its first season, the 2006 Outstanding Trails program honored five off-road trails. Black Bear Pass, near Ouray, Colorado, is a picturesque trail nestled in the San Juan Mountains. Pyeatt Draw, a scenic and exciting trail situated in Payson, Arizona. Hell's Revenge, with its slick sandstone slopes brings adventure to thrill seekers in Moab, Utah. Historic Naches Pass, also known as the Longmire Wagon Train, takes off road drivers over the Cascade Mountains in Naches, Washington. Last, but not least, Upper Tellico OHV Area, Trail #4, located in the Natahala National Forest, is located in North Carolina where Tennessee, South Carolina and Georgia meet.
To learn more about these trails, visit the Outstanding Trails Web site at www.bfgoodrichtires.com/outstandingtrails.
Both Tread Lightly! And UFWDA are non-profit organization dedicated to responsible and ethical outdoor recreation. BFGoodrich Tires collaborated with these two groups to select the finest off-road trails, and will continue to work with these organizations on restoration and education initiatives.
United Four Wheel Drive Associations (UFWDA)
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