Powell River Adventure with Braeden and Jenna from Overland Outfitters
With only 6 weeks remaining until our new store opens up in November, my wife, Jenna, and I decided it was our last chance to get out of the city for quite a while! Seizing the opportunity, we headed for the Sunshine Coast, an area that we had only been able to explore once before, and only for a couple of days. We geared up our Tacoma and hit the road aiming for Horseshoe Bay.
It seems that a lot of people avoid checking out the coast because of the mandatory ferry ride to get there. This is great for anybody willing to “endure” the beautifully scenic and surprisingly short trip on the boat. For about an $85 and 1.5 hour investment (that’s including the return trip) for an over-height pickup and two adults, I don’t really see the reason not to head out there, but let’s continue to keep that a secret! We found the trip relaxing and quick, and the view of the islands and coastal mountains, plus the odd whale, was amazing.
Hitting the Langdale side, we rolled into Sechelt. We drove straight up to the Coast Gravity Park, which is an awesome mountain bike park built by local legends, the Coastal Crew. We got to ride the park for a bit that day before bunking down in our tent.
The next day was all about The Backwoods Jam, a really cool event featuring some of the world’s best slopestyle riders pulling insane tricks off some massive jumps. It goes down every year, so if you’re into riding, I highly recommend getting out there. The vibes are laid back and the pros send backflips practically right over your head!
A friend had suggested some really cool hikes that we should check out near Powell River, so after the Backwoods Jam wrapped up, we packed up and headed north. One more ferry crossing, and we landed in Saltery Bay. With the help of our Vancouver, Coast and Mountains Backroad Mapbook, we found the entrance to the Stillwater Main FSR and headed into the forest on the hunt for Tin Hat Mountain. Along the drive we decided to pull off at Lewis Lake, just to check it out, use the outhouse, and regain our bearings.
It was just beginning to rain, but with a wild yell of YOLO, we decided to strip down and jump into the lake on a whim. It turned out to be not quite as terribly cold as we had expected, but after a quick dunk, we hopped out and ran back to the truck to towel off and get warm.
Taking another look at our Backroad Mapbook, we figured out the rest of our route and carried on.
It wasn’t too much longer before we found the trailhead for Tin Hat Mountain. The first section of the trail is driveable with an appropriately equipped 4-wheel drive vehicle, which is one of our specialties, so we elected to drive up as far as we could. There were a few loose, steep sections and exposed rocks, but nothing too technical before we reached the top. We set up our tent and awning quickly, before heading up the remaining hiking trail to the Tin Hat Cabin and mountain summit.
When we got to the top after a short climb, we found ourselves staring out at what would have been an incredible view, completely blocked by fog. The rain was upon us! With lightning and thunder starting to roll in, we hiked back down to our truck to cook up some fajitas under the cover of our awning. With the fire ban still in effect, and not much else to do in the pouring rain, we climbed into our roof top tent, got cozy in our sleeping bags and read ourselves to sleep.
The next morning, the weather wasn’t doing anything consistent, but we decided to take a chance and see if the views from the top had cleared up at all. Hiking back up, we caught a break in the clouds and were rewarded with an amazing vista of lakes and mountains, with the Pacific in the distance. Satisfied that we hadn’t gone all the way to Tin Hat Mountain for nothing, we got back to our truck and packed up camp. We decided that we may as well take turns mountain biking down the trail while the other drove. It was a quick and easy blast down the hill, but still fun. With all of our gear still on, we went and found a few easy mountain biking trails to ride before heading south again.
Once on the other side of the ferry, we took an immediate left, followed by a short drive into Egmont. As night fell, we checked our BRMB for any viable logging roads to head into, and found one that looked like it might give us a decent view in the morning. We headed up the road in the darkness, and set up our tent just as the rain started to fall again.
The next morning, we woke up to a cloudy but nice view of the ocean with a couple of hills around us. Eager to hike to the Skookumchuck narrows, we packed up and headed into town. The hike is relatively flat, but really beautiful, weaving through a lush forest and along the shore of Brown Lake before you finally reach the narrows about 5 km (3.1 mi) later. Skookumchuck narrows is known for its unique tides, as the water from the inlet can’t escape as fast as the tide drops, causing a collision of water bodies that can have as much as 2 meters (6 ft) of difference in elevation. This creates wild, fast-moving currents, whirlpools, and white water. You can visibly see the difference in height from one side of the narrows to the others, which is pretty amazing.
We hiked the 45 minutes back and hopped back in our trusty Toyota to say goodbye to the Sunshine Coast (for now). It was a short and rainy trip, but it was so nice to get away from the chaos of the city and find ourselves in new places with nobody around.
Braeden & Jenna Hitchcock – Overland Outfitters
Braeden and Jenn are the owners and operators of Overland Outfitters, a roof top tent rental service located in Surrey, BC. Contact Braeden and Jenna to rent a roof top tent and get a taste of overlanding!