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B.C. Camping Trip & Apex Alpine Jeep Jamboree Aug '98
Well, two and a half weeks off, Yea!!! So, off I headed out for camping in British Columbia and the Canadian Jeep Jamboree at Apex Alpine. At a Typical Ferry crossing in BC you see a "Ferry Ahead" sign, go around a corner, there is a steep hill with a dock at the bottom, a run-a-way truck lane, pit toilets, garbage cans, and a ferry schedule sign. Pretty soon a ferry comes across the lake, you all get on, go across, and it is the same on the other side. You can get spoiled up there, the ferry's are free.
I found the people to be very friendly, almost to friendly at times, 'cause they kept wanting to talk while on the ferry's and such and I was trying to take pictures and such. But on the whole, very nice, very friendly and very open. It was a constant, "where ya from, where ya headed, you gotta see this while you are there, watch out for this, and have a great trip", etc. I got to take lots of pictures for vacationing young ethnic couples, I guess that traveling alone must have made me more approachable than some others because they kept coming up to me and handing me cameras and gesturing (most spoke no, or very little English).
I went up to Lake Okanogan, it was hot (over 100 degrees) and crowed. Very pretty, but not my type of place at this time of year, but the fishing is said to be superb. Spent one night there on the lake - in a nice but crowded Provincial Park, and headed over Monashee Pass to the Kooteni Country (Selkirk Mountains) the next morning. I highly recommend going over Monashee Pass if you are ever up that way, WOW! It was spectacular. I went over to the Arrow Lakes District, and camped near Revelstoke, on Upper Arrow Lake. Arrow Lakes area is "in your face mountains" with their feet in a lake and their heads in the clouds! Wow, what scenery! Revelstoke is a really nice little town on the Transcanadian Highway. Definitely a "revisit" spot. I just had to stop and check out the visitors center at Revelstoke Dam; they thought that that was kind of neat, and asked me lots of questions (since I work at Bonneville Lock and Dam on the Lower Columbia River) about the lower river; boy is the Columbia River small way up there. Again I stayed in one of the Provincial Parks, it was right on the lake, but had a neat "swimming lagoon" that was separate from the lake. Very nice, not real crowded either. Next day I headed south, still along the Arrow lakes, and went back west - just North of the US Border.
Stayed at a lovely little Provincial Park on Jewel Lake - very reminiscent of our Forest Service campgrounds but better maintained and much cleaner. Many of the Provincial Parks in BC now take reservations, if you are headed for popular spots (like Okanogan Lake) reservations are highly recommended. Many of the Parks supply fire wood for you, and all have drinking water, no matter how primitive. Granted the water is not as good as down here (my opinion) but it is ok. On the whole, I found the Provincial Parks that I stayed in to be better kept up and much cleaner than our Forest Service Campgrounds, State, or National Parks campgrounds have been. I would assume that they actually have a budget for recreation up there.
After that, being Thursday morning, I headed for Apex Alpine (West of Penticton) for the Jamboree. There were about 70 Jeeps registered, and they just came pouring in on Thursday night. First you go through the safety check (this is the first trip I have been on where they actually did do a real safety check), then get your registration packet, meal card, and T-shirt. Then, you are on your own to look at the Mopar Booth, check out the bar, go back to town, etc. Apex Alpine is a ski lodge, it was closed since Easter, but opened up for two weeks for the Jamborees. They (the lodge workers) were a bit hesitant about it all, but when I left the employees were really happy and psyched up about doing this again next year. Even though they were not supposed to have any food available for us on Thursday, someone opened the kitchen up and was flipping burgers for the people in the bar that night. Otherwise it would have been a long drive down the mountain to town for dinner.
The lodge was really nice, still kind of spendy (for me), but it turned out to definitely be worth it! (showers, can we say showers!) It worked out that the first day we had about 15 rigs in our group on the trail. Jeep 101 was very popular, with nearly 40 rigs. They built a nice Jeep 101 course (I know this 'cause we got to play on it that evening). There were choices of a Jeep 101, 2-3 (?), 4-5 (Meteorite & Frizbee Hills), 5-6 (Green Draggin & Green Serpent) and 6-7 (Winch-Chester) rated trails (by the lack of names you can guess which ones I was looking at). The 6-7 trail was a locker and winch run, they wanted both but took some with only one or the other, but you had to be an experienced driver too. What they did to provide so many trails is to make them loops, and run a trail one way on Friday and the other direction on Saturday. We all know how that can affect the difficulty of a trail! Both Winch-Chester and the two "Green" trails were noted in the trail descriptions as you will receive body damage. Mostly they were talking paint scratches, but I did see a few tweaked fenders too.
The first day I took the Frizbee Hill trail (I think that was the correct name), it was kind of light and fluffy compared to what I usually run with the Oregon Bushhackers, but wow, the views were something else! The mountains just seem to go on forever. And then, there is the abundance of wildlife. Moooo! and "blue meteorites" (read salt licks) along the trail to watch for.
There was one hill climb set up so that almost everyone got to play on it. They called it (I think) Iron Man Hill. It was nice and steep, very loose dirt, a few branches and tree roots thrown in, and lots and lots of good, deep, black dust. The first day the TJ walked right up it, no problems, no hassles. Most of the people who tried it this day made it, but it was getting pretty torn up. As it got dug up, the smaller vehicles had more troubles here. It became a short wheelbase trap by the time we left. The longer wheelbase vehicles had no problems here at all. After leaving the hill climb, we headed up another mountain. Jeep Jamboree had a communications truck out on top of one of the mountains, monitoring all the channels so that the different groups were in communication, so that we would not run into another group where there was not passing room (many of the trails crossed each other), and in case of emergency. When we got to the top of the hill that they were stationed on, we found this cute little "Jeep Parking Only" sign.
At this point, we had a CJ and a Cherokee that were overheating badly (both were automatics - the only ones in the group) and they decided to head back to camp and see what they could do for their rigs. We took the hood off the Cherokee, and sent the hood down the mountain with the communications truck that night - it helped him out a lot. The trail we were on went to the top of Apex, Riordan, and ?? Mountains. Every view was different, and for 360 degrees it was just mountain after mountain. We got back to camp on Friday with a little time to spare so some of us went down and played on the Jeep 101 course for a bit. They had a nice and intimidating looking little hill to start off (I heard a lot about that little hill at dinner that night). A long off camber section, a set of log crossings and some other obstacles set up. Fun.
The food for the Jamboree was really something else. Fully catered, by what turned out to be the owners of one of the fancier restaurants in the valley. Things like a full bone in ham for breakfast, 2 or 3 entrees each night, vegetarian entrees, 8+ kinds of salads, veggie trays, cheese trays, hot and cold vegetables and potatoes, etc. each night. From what folks said, this was normal for the Canadian Jamboree's - an extravagance of food. They had a 3 man band in the bar that night, pretty good one too; and they looked to be having lots of fun playing for us. We also got to watch a repair/modification to a CJ -- it was done in the true "Red-Green" tradition -- they made him a fan shroud out of a garbage can and duct tape to help his overheating problem. It worked too, Saturday was no trouble for him (heat wise).
Saturday morning it was off for the harder trail, Green Serpent. It started out kind of slow, but boy did it get technical at the end. We were up to about 20 rigs for this run. It was real easy in the beginning, getting slightly harder as we climbed hi gher and higher through a series of killer switchbacks. Some of the smaller-tired stock rigs had troubles, we had one spectacular stuck. Unfortunately I was way ahead of it and did not get to see it in person. The trail leader had to go back and winch the guy out. It was a YJ with little bald tires who had not aired down or disconnected. They tried airing him down, they tried the strap, they tried rocking it, everything, but it came down to a winch job. The YJ in front of him had torn the corner up pretty bad, and he just couldn't get through the loose stuff, and didn't know enough to stay high on the off camber side of the turn to avoid it. One of the neater spots we went by was a lake at a sharp turn where you had to practically kiss a tree and bounce off the root wad to make the corner in only one or two shots. I was amazed at how many people never even saw the lake right there - it was only about 20 feet away from the trail.
Once again, we went to play on Iron Man Hill, another group had just left, and it was much more torn up than it had been. I was first up, and once the TJ just walked up it again (more power and more speed needed than on Friday), everyone headed for the bottom to try it. The long wheelbase vehicles (Cherokee, GC, Comanche) all had no problems, some of the YJ and CJ's started to dig in deep, and all of a sudden, no one was making the hill anymore. I got a second try (about the 20-24 rig to try it - everyone got 3 shots at it and then back to the back of the line of you wanted to try again) and while I made it the furthest up of anyone who didn't make the hill, the trak-lok just couldn't get me far enough out of the loose stuff to make it. A bunch more CJ/YJ/TJ's tried it and missed. Anyone who was fully locked made it up, but limited slip or open diff's just didn't cut it any more. One TJ, on his 7th try did make the hill, he was set up the same as I am, but he had good off road 31" tires (I have stock tires). He was the last in our group to make the hill. Probably out of 12 rigs that tried it, 7 made it up, and three of those were long wheelbase rigs. It was a good hill, much more challenging than the previous day. I would have liked to see the next group try it.
For the last part of the trail on Saturday we went up Green Mountain. Up was kinda narrow and brushy, but not hard for anyone - except for the CJ with the carburetor problem - stopping on the hills was just killing him. It was kinda narrow in spots and the longer wheelbase rigs had to be spotted through a couple of places. All of the TJ's took body damage from the trees, as did the newer Cherokees and Grand's. However, they had put it in writing that for this trail you would take body damage (most of the damage was scratches, and they even mostly buffed out on mine). This was a tricky piece of trail, it was late, we were tired, and it was narrow with some unexpected surprises hiding behind trees and branches. Down was a totally different story (they left the technically difficult part for last). It is late, you are exhausted, it is steep, narrow, logs, branches, big trees, and rocks sticking into the trail, three point turns (for a TJ!) on the switchbacks, pretty much straight down, mud holes, etc. I watched the Comanche tweak its side on a tree, pitch from bumper to bumper; how he avoided scratching it up I will never know. The CJ behind me hit a tree on the way down and got it hung up in his bumper. Going up this section would have been interesting. I would have liked to know if that made it harder or easier.
Sunday morning it was breakfast, pack up the Jeep, say good-bye's, and stand around and B.S. about rigs for a couple of hours before hitting the road. Headed south to the boarder, crossed over at Nighthawk; man, there is nothing there, but the customs station and a real bored customs officer (nice man though). Then turned West for North Cascades National Park. If you are ever up there, and like spectacular craggy mountain scenes, I highly recommend the drive through the park! From there it was play in Puget Sound area for a couple of days, and then on South to Corvallis, Eugene, the McKenzie River, and then back to North Bonneville and work (Yuck!). But it sure was good to see home after 21 days on the road.
Jeep Jamboree Canada