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Feb 11

Late winter early spring trips?

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Anybody interested in a March camping trip in NB? I’m game, no bugs! Let’s get something organized.

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  • So I'm tossing the idea around to plan a trip to Labrador if the NB Expedition Challenge this summer falls through (too early to tell). But would there be anyone on here potentially interested in attending such a trip?
  • After a year of conceptualizing the event and countless kilometres of trail recon by East Coast Overland with the assistance of Explore The North and J. Diamond, August was the perfect month to run the NB Expedition Challenge here in NB. The vast swaths of mosquitoes that plague outdoor enthusiasts in the months of May and June have mostly died off, the swamps and mud pits of the spring rains have all but dried up and sun has had a chance to solidify the soft spring trails. This year in particular the summer has been a very dry one, bringing little to no rain, until of course as luck has it, the night of the rendezvous for NBX 2017 and into day 1 and 2 of the event. The mud and rain set a dreary start to the event but it didn’t deter the 31 vehicles that had gathered for this adventure to kick into high gear and play around with their waypoints and Gaia App, that was provided for free through Gaia sponsorship. Day one was a shakeout day to get teams used to working together and get a grasp of the daily challenges that will be presented to them over the following 4 days. Team Rubi Su on Day 2 on a muddy trail, somewhere in central NB. Day 2 was the first day of challenges, with the trails still wet and muddy from the last 24 hours of rain, drivers started to realize that their skills and vehicles would be pushed during this navigation challenge. From tight overgrown trails to flooded trail sections, teams started to develop strategies how to best tackle the number of waypoints issued each morning. Some got stuck, some almost flipped over and most ended up winching their rigs through a very steep obstacle that very quickly became known as the “tank trap”. The Bee Team from Vermont working their way through the Tank Trap, one rig at a time Day 2 roughly went from the Doaktown area to Rogersville where the camp for night 2 was sighted in a clearing. Some people still struggling with the Gaia app, especially since the satellite image view is no longer available as in the older versions, it really created challenges to the users. Luckily we had Backroad Mapbooks on board for sponsorship that provided each team with a paper copy of an NB Backroad Mapbook, outlining the vast trail network this Province has to offer. The teams very quickly bonded with each other and new connections and friendships were made over the crackling camp fire, cold beers and stories of the day’s adventure. The sun started to make an appearance towards the end of the day and with it came a rise in spirit and excitement about the adventure that lay ahead as the trails would lead the participants ever further north into the mountains of northern NB. Day by day the scenery was about to become more dramatic as the altitude would rise, the villages and with it, gas stations become more scarce and the remoteness of the region would become abundantly obvious. One of the great things about events like this is the boost to local economy and in particular gas stations that lie along the route where everyone will stop by to fuel up, stack up coolers with ice, food and beer before heading back into the wilderness. A member from Team Rubi Su in northern NB As the teams started to depart camp on the morning of day 3, the weather was looking great and the forecast was even better with warm temperatures and sunshine. From Rogersville through Red Bank on into the Christmas Mountains, this leg of the journey displayed some of the most spectacular scenery and trails this region has to offer. Steep climbs, narrow rocky washed out trail sections and stunning mountain vistas summarize this section of the NB Expedition Challenge. This region is best known for Mount Carleton Provincial Park and the Christmas Mountains. But these trails, as beautiful as they are, don’t come without a price to pay. Punctured tires, broken shocks, cracked radiators and other trail carnage was the result of this, making night 3 a collective vehicle repair night for many. Team Fundy Ones conducting field repairs on their TJs. Just like mud was the flavour of the day for the first 2 days, dust quickly became just that for days 3 and 4. The long dirt roads, primarily used by logging trucks and the occasional ATV are notorious to kick up massive dust clouds that linger between the wood lines, reducing visibility and forcing drivers to increase the distance between their team members. With the compass still displaying North, teams blazed on across dusty dirt roads through the northern highlands, with temperatures pushing 30C. After 5 days, cold water became a very sought after commodity and most of the teams found just that at the end of one of the waypoints and seized the opportunity to refresh by taking a spontaneous dip in one of the lakes along the route. Nick and I had scouted out a location to end the event at that was more suitable than the northern town of Dalhousie that was the original intent and found a beautiful pebble river with clear water and beach, large enough to fit all the vehicles onto. While we waited for the participants to finish their waypoints for the day, we took a very refreshing plunge in the cold stream and reflected on the event as it drew to an end, already exploring ideas for NBX 2018. Teams entered: 1. Fundy Ones 2. Les Brayons 3. Team Undecided 4. Team Rubicon 5. Team RubiSu 6. Bee Team 7. Trailpocalypse 8. Muddy Mistake 9. Mighty Mammoth NBXC 17 was sponsored and supported by: Wild Coast Tents Backroad Map Books Gaia GPS TRAILSOFFROAD 4 Wheel Parts Out Here Adventure Explore The North Outdoor Junkie Arrowhead Coffee
  • In the late summer of 2016, a team of 5 vehicles set out to prove a proposed trans provincial overland route that East Coast Overland put together and dubbed “NB Expedition”. The team was made up of Virgil’s Jeep JKU with trailer in tow, Johnathan’s Toyota FJ Cruiser, Lew’s Toyota Tacoma, who came up from Vermont to join this adventure, Nick’s Jeep JKU and RJ’s Jeep JK. This is our story: With just 4 days available at the end of August, squeezing in an unproven route, covering an approximate 1000 km was a very ambitious undertaking. With all the rigs loaded up and some last minute parking lot modifications to Nick’s newly acquired CB Radio set-up, the team set out to the trailhead to air down and start this adventure. August is the best time of year to explore the Maritimes, the weather is hot, the bugs have thinned out and a lot of people are on vacation. The sun was out and the excitement of adventure and the trails ahead was in the air. The route would take us from the Capital Region through central NB, through the north-western region of Bath and north-east again through Acadian Timber Lands to Mount Carleton Provincial Park. We anticipated reaching Mount Carleton at the end of day 2, however this turned out to be too ambitious. The amount of detours and turn arounds we had to conduct due to gates, private land or impassable bridges added countless kilometres to the route and ate up more time than allocated. But such is the nature of adventure, exploring in its purest form, scouting trails, finding a route where there isn’t one. Spirits ran high and we settled on a camp site at the end of day one, nestled at the end of a dead end trail. In the evening, RJ and Nick set out on a quick recon of the power line adjacent to our camp site to assess its suitability to continue the next day. As it turned out, we had reached an impasse and would be forced to backtrack a few kms the next morning. Day 2 started out with a light rain that began over night. Breakfast that morning was quick and the camp tear down didn’t take long. Once everyone was loaded up we attempted one more potential route that might lead us back onto the main track. On the satellite image it looked feasible so we set out to tackle it. However a gate onto private land put a quick end to that and so we started to backtrack. After some 10 km on gravel logging routes we took a quick stint over pavement before branching off onto gravel again. With each turn we took down another gravel road, the tighter the vegetation became and less used the routes were. Shortly before noon we came upon a Y junction, the plotted route of course would lead down the overgrown trail that looked like it hadn’t been travelled in many years. Due to the high probability of a turn around somewhere down this trail, Lew offered to take the lead so I would have a better chance of turning around with the trailer, should the need arise. As the rain was pouring down, Lew dipped the nose of his Tacoma down the trail and soon disappeared into the overgrown brush. We waited a minute for a sit-rep over the CB, then followed down the winding, rocky, washed-out and overgrown trail. At the end of the trail our satellite image recon hinted at what could potentially be a bridge across the river, which is what fuelled the decision to pursue this trail in the first place. However, what awaited us at the end of this trail was anything but a bridge. We had to turn around again, but not without first taking a closer look at this spectacular abandoned dam that had misled us to believe it was a bridge. But making discoveries like these is exactly what exploring is all about. Despite the rain, this find was well worth the turn-around that followed. The rain persisted throughout the day. After the turn around, the challenge to find a new route took us deep into the woods of central NB and despite the downpour and muddy dirt roads, the low hanging rain clouds, scattered throughout the highlands, clinging on the tree tops like cotton candy was a beautiful sight to behold. Fuel levels started to reach the half-tank mark at this stage and we were far removed from any near-by towns. We had to make sure not to take too many more risky trails since at this point we had to consider the distance left to travel to the goal for the day, the amount of daylight hours and the dwindling fuel. We all carried sufficient extra fuel for just this reason, but it is always nice to keep that in reserve for when there are no other options left. We pushed on further north towards the town of Juniper Station and came across a small convenience store, serving some welcome hot coffee on a rather cold rainy day. On we went, trying to reach Plaster Rock before nightfall. As fate would have it, private access controlled forestry lands put an end to that objective. Despite our best efforts and phone calls with the Company, they wouldn't allow us to pass, forcing us to take yet another detour. With time becoming a serious factor, we opted few a few more kms on pavement to make up for lost time. Instead of north-east, we were forced north-west towards the town of Bath, a small idyllic town along the banks of the St John River. However getting to Bath wasn't without its challenges and yet another detour. This time a recently washed out bridge forced us to find a bypass. After consulting our maps and satellite navigation, we decided to attempt a small trail down towards a narrow bridge at the end of an old farm path, or ATV trail, hoping it survived the recent rain storm. The bridge was constructed of a semi trailer with old wood beams. Sketchy at best, we decided to attempt the crossing first with the lightest of our vehicles, RJ’s 2 door JK. It held up and one by one we crossed the river. Due to weight considerations we decided to unhook the trailer and walk it across separately. Around supper time we reached the town and came across our first service station since the journey began. We ended up using all our spare fuel leading up to this as too many detours consumed more than we had planned. But this is why we always set out prepared for the worst case scenario. Having fuelled up and restocked on a few vital snack items and ice for the coolers, we set out north in pursuit of finding a nice camp site for the night. We searched along the banks of the river but didn’t find anything that really pleased us. We followed the road along a steep river valley surrounded by cliffs, waiting for the ground to open up a bit and allow our 5 vehicles to park and set up camp. We ended up following a tail that took us up onto a mountain in search of a suitable campsite. By the time the rain seized and the trees gave way to the stunning valley below, right as the sun was setting and the rain clouds were scattering, the scenery was nothing short of spectacular! On the morning of day 3, Nick and RJ were forced to return home, each to take care of some issues that had come up. The sun was out again and started to warm up the wet tents that we left up until the last possible moment, hoping they would dry up a bit before stowing them for the day. After a quick map study and a hearty breakfast, the remaining 3 vehicles were ready to set out for the last leg of the journey, Plaster Rock to Mount Carleton. The sun was out, the sky was blue and the mountains around us were getting taller. Northern NB is shaped by the tail end of the Appalachian Mountain range, and the Appalachian trail runs through this region. We reached Plaster Rock after a few hours of driving. We purchased our access permits to gain access to the privately owned Acadian Timber Lands. At $11 a person, they aren’t cheap, but their land is very well taken care of and absolutely beautiful. By the end of the day we reached Mount Carleton and our journey would be complete. I should say, half complete, since the goal is to make this overland route a full loop. Given that on this trip we only finished half of what we had planned, this became known as NB Expedition Pt 1. Pt 2 will take place this summer (17). It will also lay the foundation for NB Expedition Challenge, which is East Coast Overland’s first overland event, and with it, the first official overland event on the East Coast. Until then, happy trails!