Last Wednesday while Sue and I were working on plotting and navigation in preparation for the Rebelle Rally October 2020, Doug my husband was working away in the office on a secret project.
Darren Van Asseldonk posted a fun challenge on the 4WDABC Okanagan Facebook Page. He hid numbered plaques (1-8) in the area and supplied a GPS location (lat and long). The description said "for experienced drivers these routes are stock 4x4 do-able but be prepared for potential recoveries and clearing trees".
After Sue and I were done training for the day and she went home Doug showed me the post (without any of the details that would spoil the challenge). He found a program and was able to create 2 map files for me to get printed Thursday am. I was filled with excitement and a healthy dose of dread. For those who don't know me very well, I suck at navigating, even with the aid of technology. I am great at following directions but if there is a hiccup(map refreshed on the iPad), missing road, or I plain just don't know where the heck we are. I often get so flustered and feel like a failure when trying to navigate.
So Thursday morning I picked up the maps from the printer and went back home. Later that afternoon after Doug was home and gave me the lat and long for each checkpoint. I worked over the next couple of hours plotting the checkpoints, we realized that the map scale was off so I had to make a scale to accurately plot each point. After he checked over my plotting I planned the route we were going to take while he packed up, grabbed Sable (our Jack Russell that loves off-roading) and we were off. Did I mention that I wasn't driving??? Driving is my strong skill, navigating not so much.
We headed up the Okanagan Connector, normally we would take the forest service roads but as it was 4 pm already we wanted to get started as quickly as possible.
The #1 checkpoint was at Reservoir Lake. Navigating to this first check point was OK, I didn't get lost! This lake is beautiful and we cant wait to go back and camp there. To get to the rec campsite you had to do a decent flowing water crossing, it was so worth it but no checkpoint marker to be found in the site. After consulting the map again we decided to try the grown over road prior to the water crossing to the right. After a lot of trail clearing and no marker we decided to head back down and look around before the water crossing. A bit of searching in the surrounding bushes and Doug found CP#1!!!!!
Our next planned checkpoint was #3 Pattinson Lake, yes I know it is out of order but #2 was on the way to #5-8. I was feeling confident that I had started to get this navigation thing....... wrong. I turned us left instead of right, it was a tricky intersection for sure. After 4 km's down the wrong road I realized something was wrong. We headed back to the intersection and carried on straight through. It is so difficult to work with a map missing roads or the roads have grown over and unrecognizable. So there was more than one time on our way to the checkpoint I had to and really think when passing a road or creek, bridge etc.
We had a tricky creek crossing to go through to get to CP#3 & 4. We almost made it through but the departure angle was just too steep. We were prepared and had the winch, tree saver strap etc all ready and I was on the other side of the crossing waiting to assist. With a little help from the winch we made it through the creek and were off to checkpoint #3.
We arrived at Pattinson Lake about 9:15pm and found another water crossing. We did a quick check where we stopped for the checkpoint, no luck. We knew we had to cross the water and because we have never been here before we didn't know how deep the water was or if it was rocky or muddy on the bottom. Doug volunteered to take one for the team and check it out. Once he got to the other side he told me to drive through..... but guess who had the keys in his pocket??? Yup he had to cross again. :)
The sight we found after the water crossing was nothing short of spectacular! The road opened up to a meadow with an old homestead on it. We spent a half hour looking for the checkpoint with no luck and the light was almost completely gone.
I am not someone who usually gets spooked out by old homesteads, I actually love them but this one not so much when the sun was gone. It was a little creepy and I really didn't want to set camp there for the night so we pushed on to check point #4 near Steer Lake. The road was riddled with deep ruts, ruts filled with water and rocks hidden below I am so grateful for my OK Expedition armor protecting my lower control arms and under carriage. We were over halfway there and encountered another tree and when Doug got out to remove it from the trail he realized that the chainsaw was left at the homestead. After a 100 (yes I exaggerate) point turn around we headed back to the homestead to retrieve the chainsaw.
After retrieving the chainsaw we decided to make camp for the night around 11pm. All night long we were serenaded by the steers and cows in the area. Interesting night for sure.
Friday morning was filled with the music from the cows and steers as I made a hash brown egg scramble. We packed up camp and started back towards checkpoint #4 at Steer Lake. I was able to get us there without too much trouble thank goodness.
After leaving Steer lake we headed the back through the tricky water crossing, this time we didn't need to winch, and traveled the 17.5 km to checkpoint #2. Lets talk about checkpoint #2. There isn't a lake for reference or any other landmark. It was tricky and we drove up and down that section trying to figure out where it was. We did find that at there was a creek crossing and a bridge 3 km after that (we knew the bridge was going too far). We were able to do a km check, zero the truck odometer at the creek and drove to the bridge = 3km. We knew that the checkpoint was at 1.35km. After we did that calculation we found the CP it was right in the tree line above where we parked. YES!!!!!
We decided that we would tackle checkpoints #5-8 on Sunday as it was getting close to 5pm. I was excited to continue our hunt for 5-8 and felt I was getting so much better at navigating.
Sunday came and I was ready and raring to go. I had my route planned and after a quick stop to grab a couple of coffees and fill up the truck we headed up Princeton Ave in Peachland to start the adventure. I had us turn on Trout main to take us up to Pitin Lake. Well that didn't work out so well. After traveling a long way on Trout we realized all of the possible connecting roads has bridges the were taken out and were impassable. All of the confidence gained the other day flew out of the window, I became flustered and felt like a failure and was generally frustrated. We backtracked to Peachland main and headed up that way. I quickly tried to rearrange the route I drew on the map but honestly I wanted to call it and hop back in the drivers seat. I didn't, I adjusted the route I had picked and we were off again towards our goal of checkpoint #5. Surprise I made another error, I mistakenly had Doug turn right too soon. Disappointed? Yes but you know what? I realized my mistake quicker and not much time was lost on my misguidance! Soon we were back on track and traversing the road into Pitin Lake. Doug found the CP fairly quickly and then it was off again.
Leaving CP#5 I made another error and shot us 3 km in the wrong direction. Ok now I was really frustrated. Doug consulted the iPad google earth and found a road that would get us back on track that wasn't on the paper map. We followed the creek north towards the power line road that would take us to CP#6. Checkpoint#6 was like CP#2 and didn't have a lake or landmark of any kind. I had a silent internal pity party, and wallowed in my frustration the while taking the alternate route to get back on track. When we met up to the road that I should have been on, I shook it off as best as I could and continued on and didn't quit like I wanted to. We took the road up to #6 and again did some calculations and guess what I found it! It was such an amazing feeling, yes I made mistakes but we worked through them and here I was standing in front of that beautiful marker!
We were off to CP#7 at Hidden Lake. I managed to navigate us there without mixing up and taking any wrong roads! When we arrived I had an idea of where the CP#7 was and guess what..... I was right again!!!
Our final checkpoint was located in the Brenda Lake area. We began the journey, and i once again send us in the wrong direction about 4 km. Agh!!!! But I figured out where I went wrong and we back tracked and got back on course. I did miss the turn onto the powerline road but easily corrected my error. We did the calculations to get an Idea how far we had to drive to get the CP. And I am excited to let you know that at around 5:30pm I found the final check point!!!! We did it!
This challenge was hard for me, I have accepted that as a navigator I need a lot more training/challenges to become better. But the huge take away for me is that I am going to make mistakes, sometimes a lot of them, I have to shake the mistakes off, regroup and move forward. It is okay for me to make mistakes and learn from them. Will I be a full time navigator? Nope but I plan to continue to try and get better at it!
Photos of the maps I plotted on and marked route. The yellow is the correct route and the green were the incorrect paths taken.