Colossal 2017 - The Canadian Wild.



It's that time of year once again and as we prep to embark on another awesome journey for 2017, I thought I would take a few moments to share a couple words. It's been a crazy year altogether with my father's unexpected passing in January. A shame but ultimately the catalyst that tipped the scales, and made the decision for my wife and I to quit our corporate jobs in Calgary AB and move to Nelson BC. Admittedly we haven't had much time to take in the scenery with the move, the adjusting to life without Dad, all while learning the ropes in our new town with our new jobs. If there is any certainty, it is that I am utterly and entirely excited for COLOSSAL 2017 more than any year thus far. The summer has been insane with wildfires, arguably the worst in 25 years, and even going as far to completely shut down the backcountry to the public around our little town in the Kootenays. The big dreams of 4x4'ing and exploring all summer have been indefinitely shut down due to Mother Nature's dominant grasp on our reality. I'll post some more details once we air the "official write-up" but this years trip has been planned a total of 3 times. The elements have been battling us for the last two months and now the time has arrived for all the hard work and planning to finally come together in my personal favorite wheeling trip of the year.

That's all for now... stay tuned for the write-up and cinematic experience to follow. ;) A little stoked from the last couple years:

Colossal 2015

Colossal 2016
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I think after all the hardships of this year your overdue to enjoy an epic trip! Wishing you a great adventure and looking forward to some great pictures and videos! Best of luck and thanks again for the previous years reports.

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\ PART 1 \

IMG_4928 by Tamarack Media Co., on Flickr

Planning. Something that is a necessity in overland travel – vehicle planning, maintenance schedules, route specifics, and even emergency workarounds. It's something I enjoy doing but not overdoing – there needs to be a window to let random chance and circumstance prevail at the least expected time to create truly unforgettable memories. How boring and unmemorable would life be if there was only certainty? Something I seem to grasp harder with each passing year. For 2017 it was the first year that we (Tamarack Media Co.) would open a small number of eligible open-seats to our yearly overland adventure trip. With each prior year filling my inbox with detailed questions about destinations and routes, I thought it was only a natural step to offer the trip as a guided tour into the backcountry. The best part, as hosts, is that we can ensure that our stunning backyard is respected as we embark on a mission to enjoy its beauty.

IMG_4915 by Tamarack Media Co., on Flickr

20161002-IMG_7869 by Tamarack Media Co., on Flickr
Reminiscing: Views and camp vibes from Colossal 2016

With things quickly getting more official and the registration seats selling out in only 2 days, we knew we had to follow through with a well executed trip. We even reached out to several awesome companies in the 4x4 community to help support our little event and make it more enjoyable for our guests. Colossal has always been about expansive views and the enjoyment of nature both on the trail and back at camp each night. It is not the trip to sign up for if you're after bragging rights for the most technical trail, or sheer mental exhaustion after navigating a full days' worth of California rock. As much as I love and respect those trips and trails, this simply isn't one of them. It's the wind-down event of the year to say goodbye to the summer season and take in the last of the fall views before the skis come out.

With that in mind, Colossal 2017 needed to hit the mark we have embodied the trip to entail. I began planning in the spring of 2017 about where in the Kootenays we would hold the event. My planned areas were mapped and researched with little left to the unknown, other than the “pre-run” trip my local 4x4 crew was planning to run with me 2 weeks before the official event. Then summer hit and the power of Mother Nature smacked us in the face; the worst forest fire season in BC in nearly 60 years. Homes and towns burned to the ground, the forest service roads closed, and later even a complete backcountry ban as temperatures stayed consistently in the 95-100F mark for nearly 3 months straight with zero precipitation – our families own house under evacuation alert for the majority of the summer. As the deadline approached with no sign of the fires subsiding, we planned a new route that would check off our boxes; a route into the gorgeous terrain in Montana. Under a slight panic the route came together quickly and we had enough information to be confident of an exciting adventure in the “Last Best Place”. A week later and a look at the fire updates in Montana proved an identical situation to that of BC, with fires burning out of control and only worsening. Now with only 4 weeks until our departure, I was on the hunt for “Plan C”.

DJI_0003.jpg by Tamarack Media Co., on Flickr
The fire threatening our family's home, two weeks before departure.

We scratched the pre-run off the calendar altogether, knowing there was no way to pre-run any trails that were no longer local. The hunt was on again and after some good intel from a US forum-friend, we were mentally set on the new directive of running the Morrison Jeep Trail in WY. I knew the trail would not be overly difficult, but considering a few longer wheelbase trucks in our group, knew it would make things interesting when climbing the notorious switchbacks. Another 2 weeks rolled by as I finalized the plans for WY and the infamous trail. Low and behold, nature would put us in our place yet again. We were scheduled to meet the morning of Saturday September 23rd, and now September 17th, I check the weather around our proposed destination to find my worst nightmare – an extreme winter snowfall warning and sub-zero temperatures for the area. Trump'ed yet again (I could make a joke here… but I won't ;) I called my brother Chase and told him the news. While I was busy route planning, him and many other guests in our group, were slaving away under their rigs trying to prepare for the upcoming journey. Chase and I had a serious discussion about cancelling the trip altogether. Finally, Chase said to me “I've spent the last 5 days wrenching on my truck, busting my *** to get it ready for this trip. It's the first trip I've actually had my own rig and the excitement for the trip just began to set in…. we aren't cancelling Colossal!” Props to him for his always optimistic attitude and constant level of excitement. “Plan D” later began to take shape… we had 5 days off, the trucks would be ready, we were full out preparing to head to the 4x4 mecca of Moab UT as our last ditch effort to keep Colossal 2017 alive. We were ready do make it happen, regardless of the destination, circumstances, or lack of planning. With the summer fires keeping us on backcountry house arrest, nothing could get in our way and stop us from exploring.

/ Stay tuned for Part 2 - Higher resolution will be available on our website soon at: /
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\ PART 2 \

Wednesday the 20th I stroll into work at the usual time, pour a cup of coffee and proceed with my morning routine of checking emails and news clippings. It's raining outside still and it started the previous day in the am and hasn't let up. On a whim I log into the BC Gov. site to check the backcountry restrictions – even though we are basically set to roll to Utah come Friday evening. I almost fall out of my chair when I see the backcountry restrictions have been lifted. I grab my cell phone and text Chase – “Game on, Colossal in the Koots!”

It's Saturday morning and Chase's truck was bolted back together about 5 hours prior.
Still without an alignment we scramble around town to see if we can get him squeezed in before meeting with most of the attendees at Empire coffee in Nelson BC (best cappuccino in town). Chase's truck can't get in because all the shops in town are booked solid. He decides the eyeball alignment from the night before is close enough.

The meet and greet goes exactly as it should. All smiles as everyone meets new/old faces alike while taking in their morning dose of java. We discuss the route plans for the day and hand out some swag before hitting the road. Saturday is a long day on the road with some highway travel to get to our destination. Although instead of taking the most direct route, I opt for a slight detour that brings us on some of the most gorgeous twisted mountain roads that can be driven on. We head out of town with radio chatter on high. The fact we are in the Kootenays and not hard-***'ing it through the night to Utah is still an amazement to us all. Icing on the cake, the fire bans are even lifted that morning – we will be granted the ability to have a fire for the first time since spring. Things are looking up!

A quick stop in an old mining town for a pee break and we are off once again. Winding through the Selkirk mountains on a fall day is hard to beat, even if we were just sticking to the tarmac. The fall foliage glistening in conjunction with the bright green pines and snow-capped mountains. A couple last minute stops at the next town to refuel all petroleum and coffee provisions and we were headed north for the real backwoods.

20170923-_MG_2081 by Tamarack Media Co., on Flickr
Dave and Ian chatting while we catch some aerials with the drone

20170923-_MG_2075 by Tamarack Media Co., on Flickr

This is where the fun truly begins and the excitement grabs hold. All the anticipation, attempts at route planning, vehicle maintenance, everything lines up to this moment where your tires hit the gravel and you realize you are free from the daily grind. The fresh air is crisp to my lungs as we officially leave the pavement. We have a short 20 km gravel run ahead of us before we hit the trail head. The gravel road is fun and allows the group to loosen up a little – the gaps between each vehicle widens as the speeds increase along with the associated dust cloud of a summer full of draught. The initial hooning session ended as one of our stranglers from Revelstoke caught up to us just before the group began our ascent on the initial trail.

20170923-_MG_2096 by Tamarack Media Co., on Flickr
Kevin's LT Tacoma looking proper at speed

20170923-_MG_2086 by Tamarack Media Co., on Flickr
Cody coming in hot

Now in 4-Lo with the tires dropped down to 20psi we begin cutting our way back and forth up the steep mountainside. This particular trail is not overly technical but it's not the technical aspect that we are here for, it's the views… and this trail never disappoints. The first 3rd of the trail climbs up the mountain with a series of switchbacks that allow a glorious view westward of the lake and surrounding mountains below. The mountain grades upward at an extremely steep angle making each switchback capable of a more glorious view than previously seen.

20170923-_MG_2113 by Tamarack Media Co., on Flickr
Trevor doing a good job representing the Nissan crowd in his exceptionally nice Frontier

20170923-_MG_2227 by Tamarack Media Co., on Flickr

The next section turns more inward on the mountain and provides the odd technical washout and steep rocky climb. As the elevation gains, the foliage also changes, eventually even bringing us into some old growth forest. Bright green moss, the rich scent of cedar trees, and the cooler air remind us that we are getting quite high in elevation. Once near the top of the mountain, the trail pops out of the dense trees to reveal a view that must be acknowledged. Looking north-west you are able to see the lake below and the river valley we will be navigating on day two. Looking north and east, two glaciers display their year round snow and ice stockpile. We are lucky enough on this day to have a ceiling high enough to make these views visible.

20170923-_MG_2139 by Tamarack Media Co., on Flickr
Larch or Tamarack trees in full splendor

20170923-_MG_2136 by Tamarack Media Co., on Flickr

This particular spot is where we became stuck in the snow at sundown for Colossal 2016, so for a few of us, it is a triumphant moment as we continue forward without the worry of an icy and sketchy decent back down later in the day. Today we are at this site earlier in the year and earlier in the day. The trail makes one final climb before we score the ridge of the mountain. Now views to the East open up with a spectacular sight – a giant rock face in the opposing valley and again glaciers in the distance. We wind along the ridge for the final section of the trail, stopping for a few moments to take in the neon larch trees and to capture some aerial footage with Goose, our drone.

20170923-_MG_2153 by Tamarack Media Co., on Flickr
David of Untitled Offroad helping run tail-gunner all weekend in his wicked 80-Series LC. Thanks brotha!

20170923-_MG_2155 by Tamarack Media Co., on Flickr
The view looking Northwest

20170923-_MG_2181 by Tamarack Media Co., on Flickr

20170923-_MG_2189 by Tamarack Media Co., on Flickr
Chase of TMCo and Dallas of The Real Pool Service tagging in to help us film for the weekend

20170923-_MG_2171 by Tamarack Media Co., on Flickr
The slab east of the ridge. So massive and ominous in person... photos don't do this mountain justice.

20170923-_MG_2195 by Tamarack Media Co., on Flickr

The final challenge on the day are the extremely tight switchbacks that lead up to the old fire lookout. Some of the longer trucks avoid the tight turn and actually reverse up a couple of them, easing any chance of vehicle damage or excessive tire rub. We all sign the guestbook in the tower documenting our arrival date. Soon this summit will be un-reachable by anything other than a set of touring skis or a snowmobile. We take in the 360 panoramic views, snapping photos and capturing video as the sun begins to drop to the east.

20170923-_MG_2223 by Tamarack Media Co., on Flickr

20170923-_MG_2219 by Tamarack Media Co., on Flickr

20170923-_MG_2213 by Tamarack Media Co., on Flickr

20170923-_MG_2207 by Tamarack Media Co., on Flickr

20170923-_08I4448 by Tamarack Media Co., on Flickr

With a keen intent on enjoying #camplife while on Colossal, we head for camp and to meet up with the last straggler of the event. He was at battle with some seized lower control arm alignment cams and was luckily able to acquire the necessary parts to get his truck road-worthy albeit a day late. I convinced John to make the trek regardless, and am glad he struggled through his adversity.

Views from the top.

20170923-_MG_2226 by Tamarack Media Co., on Flickr

20170923-_08I4446 by Tamarack Media Co., on Flickr

Chase and I grab a couple photos of the Tamarack rigs amongst the Tamarack trees ;)

20170923-_08I4390 by Tamarack Media Co., on Flickr

20170923-_MG_2191 by Tamarack Media Co., on Flickr

We set up camp with John rolling in an hour or so after us. Our spot a large group rec site on the waters of the very lake we were overlooking most of the day as we made our ascent up to the fire lookout. This late in the year we have the site almost all to ourselves and enjoy the clear evening on the waterfront. Most of us make a dinner feast before heading to the fire for some beverages and stories. Other than a scare from a random dog who finds some of our garbage too tasty to resist, we are left with a beautiful and peaceful night under the stars. Tomorrow will take us even deeper into the Canadian Wilderness so I head off to bed for a good nights sleep.

/ Stay tuned for Part 3 /
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BUMP for PART 2 posted above!

I think after all the hardships of this year your overdue to enjoy an epic trip! Wishing you a great adventure and looking forward to some great pictures and videos! Best of luck and thanks again for the previous years reports.
Thanks for the kind words. It was a great time as always, and I must say, definitely needed! Thanks for following along!

It was a blast!
You're the man Dave, really appreciate everything you (and Untitled Offroad) did for us this year! Great having you along for the ride as always.

Excited to see more details!
Can't wait to see where this ends up going!
Check out post 2 above! Thanks for looking out.


Wow somehow missed this report being up until just today (I'm subscribed to the TMCo RRS feed but it wasn't up there yet so I missed it). As usual, the Colossal report doesn't disappoint. Really looking forward to Parts 3 and 4! Excellent work Addison

I'm assuming TMCo will do a video on the trip like you did last year?

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Wow somehow missed this report being up until just today (I'm subscribed to the TMCo RRS feed but it wasn't up there yet so I missed it). As usual, the Colossal report doesn't disappoint. Really looking forward to Parts 3 and 4! Excellent work Addison

I'm assuming TMCo will do a video on the trip like you did last year?
Hey Ryan! Yah we are going to post the entire thing on Tamarack once it's written. The website will also be the only place where you will be able to see the video when it drops. Pretty excited for it this year. We actually had two dedicated filmers on the trip this year with myself being the 3rd as a filler (when I wasn't guiding the group). Lots of good footage was collected... also doesn't hurt that we were shooting most of it on a RED 8K camera!

Great start! Looking forward to rest of the stories. Thanks!
Thanks, Part 3 should be live by the end of the weekend.


weekend wheeler

if you guys plan on doing the Morrison trail next year, I've done it twice. Our local club does it every year and can offer insight or info. I've done it twice.