Coming soon!

Navigation

All of the provided routes are navigational routes.  Be it a two day or a two month expedition, navigating is a big part of undertaking one of these routes.

The challenge of navigating an overland route is a large part of the allure of the trips we provide.  Navigating can slow down the pace of travel as you are constantly ensuring you are on the right path.  This isn’t a bad thing as it gives you time to “smell the roses” and also makes you aware of where you are.  More experienced navigators get into a rhythm where checking the gps becomes automatic during straight stretches or at regular intervals.  Non experienced navigators seem to stop at every intersection to check the gps to ensure they are going the proper direction.  Only experience using a gps will allow you to get into the proper rhythm and not have it slow you down too much.  For folks on a motorcycle, it is an unnerving thing and perhaps not a safe thing to do.  Checking your gps units screen while driving is not a safe practice.  Driving a four wheeled vehicle has the same pitfall, taking your eyes off the road to look at a gps screen is not a safe thing to do, luckily for most folks heading out on one of these expeditions you often have a navigator in the passenger seat.   We encourage you to practice using your gps prior to setting out on an expedition.  Be safe and have fun!

tomwhite-navagationjeepsmaller

                Nothing replaces the paper map is a thought many people have.  We don’t disagree and encourage folks to bring along paper maps.  When using a gps, it becomes easy to be zoomed in and “just follow the green line” sort of mentality and not even realize where you are.  Maps let you see the big picture and see what is around you.  Whether you are using technical means to produce the maps or just using a highlighter to trace the intended path onto a road map, you will benefit from having a map with you.  Having maps will also be beneficial in the event your gps unit stops working.

We provide digital files for each of the routes.  They come in the GPX format.  GPX stands for GPS eXchange format and is an open source method of distributing gps data.  GPX files can be viewed in several different software applications.  Most gps units come with some sort of software and will be able to view GPX files.  Google earth is a free download and can be used to view GPX files.

Inside of each GPX file is a collection of files.  We have chosen to use track files and waypoints.  A waypoint is spot on a map and we use them to indicate fuel locations, beginning or end of a route, a scenic view point or other points of interest along the path.  Each of the provided GPX files has no more than 500 data points, this should make them compatible with most gps units.

Two common sources of confusion for many people are the difference between a track and a route.  A route file is a series of “data points” and your gps calculates the best way to get from one to the next.  This causes issues as not everyone gps unit has the same math or the same “brain” so people may end of taking different paths to get from one data point to the next.  Another issue with route files is that if the path is meant to take a trail or road that is not on your map, your gps will guide you around the path based on roads it knows exists on its map.  This is not ideal for overland expedition style trips that purposely utilize lesser know roads and trails.

A track file in contrast is a set of data points that are joined together by a line.  You load the track file onto your gps unit and the track file shows as a line on the map.  Your gps unit will not guide you (aka turn left here), rather you are responsible for following the line (track) on your gps display.  This has several advantages for overland expedition use, the biggest being it will make it easier to follow the intended path as you are no longer relying on your gps unit’s “brain” to figure out where you are supposed to go.

So why doesn’t everyone use track files?  A good question that has several answers,   for folks travelling on roads only, a route file is handy to use as it fins the quickest method from point a too point b and helps you get there with voice commands and prompts of upcoming turns.  This is great when you are in a city or on unfamiliar roads.  Track files are typically used for situations where roads are not used.  Marine navigation, hiking and off road recreation are some of the more common uses for track files.

Will every gps unit be useable?  Sadly this is not the case.  Only certain gps units are designed to use track files.  Most automotive gps units and even some motorcycle specific gps units will only be able to load and view route files.  There are several gps units that can be used for track files.  There are several others and a quick search on the internet should enable you to find one that suits your needs. 

There are several methods people use to “trick” their gps units into using track files.  If you are a gps guru and or a technical person you are probably already aware of these methods.  Some gps units can be used for “direct routing”. Some can load a clear map on top of the map you see (overlay).  This overlay map has the path on it, once loaded on your gps unit you will have a line to follow.  There are other methods that some technical folks use but we won’t go into detail on them as it just seems to confuse most people.

 

navagtion

 

Here are a few links that we have found useful

Free Downloadable detailed topo of Canada

 TOPO MAPS

GPS units and software

www.gpscentral.ca

Converting gps files

 http://www.gpsvisualizer.com/

Google Earth

http://www.google.com/earth/index.html

Making Overlay Maps

http://www.gpx2img.com/

Spot Tracking Device

http://international.findmespot.com/

Digital Maps

http://www.mapsherpa.com/

Canada Back Roads Maps (digital and paper format)

http://www.backroadmapbooks.com/main/index.html

                Use your brain!  We have provided suggested routes, they are just that, suggestions.  Weather and the environment, rules and laws affecting access can all change and do change.  Don’t just follow the line on your gps or the person in front of you.  Look where you’re going and turn around and find an alternate route if the terrain is not suitable or a sign indicates you need a permit and you don’t have one.  Common sense is a must.  Many of the expedition routes we have suggested bring you into remote and rugged landscapes; you’d wise to keep this in mind at all times.  What is challenging area of terrain on a day ride/drive may not be suitable for you if you are a month from home and a few days drive/ride from the nearest form of civilization.

Currency

canadian-money

 

Canada uses the dollar for its currency.  100 cents is equal to one dollar. 

Unlike other countries the Canadian dollar is fairly stable and does not change much from year to year and is usually just above or below the value of the American dollar at most times.

Money can be exchanged at any international airport as well as at most banks.  In remnote area's of the country you may find that cash is the only accepted form of currency.  Credit cards and debit cards may not be accepted, we advise you keep some money on you for these circumstances.

Most Canadians will accept American dollars but will only accept it at face value. 

The coins used are:

  • penny=1 cent
  • nickel=5 cents
  • dime=10 cents
  • quarter=15 cents
  • loonie=1 dollar
  • toonie=2 dollars

Bills are in denomintaions of 5, 10, 50, 100

We sincerely want you to stay safe.  Not an easy thing to do as driving and riding on unpaved roads has inherent risks.  Oncoming vehicles on narrow roads, travelling in remote areas, less than ideal road surfaces, long distance travel and many other factors all combine to make the safety factor low on the scale.  There are several things you can do to reduce the danger of this sport, this is not a comprehensive list of them but rather just a few to get your mind working and thinking safety while planning your next overland expedition.

Plan: Planning is the most important thing you can probably do to reduce the risk to you, your travelling companions and the people you meet.  Play the “what if game”.  What if I ran out of gas, what if I have a flat tire or other mechanical issue, what if I got lost, what if someone got hurt, what if the trail or road becomes impassable, what if a bear comes into camp, what if we have to walk out of here, what if we get seeprated.  Having answers for these and other “what if” questions will go a long way to making your expedition a safer and happier experience.

Prepare:  A prepared person will enjoy the sport/hobby/lifestyle of overland travel a lot more than those who don’t.  It’s easier to get away with lack of preparing for a short trip than it is a long trip.  Finding out your batteries died on your gps in the middle of nowhere and not having spares, finding out you should have packed warmer clothes, finding out you should have brought an oil filter as non are available for your vehicle, finding out you are only travelling at half the speed you thought you would be due to road conditions and so on.  Sometimes it’s nice not to half to prepare and just travel on fate alone.  This is not a wise idea in remote areas.  Being properly prepared can go a long way to making your trip safer and more enjoyable.  Do your homework and it will pay off for you.

Take Your Time:  There is no prize for going the fastest.  Speeds along with pushing yourself too hard are recipes for disaster.  The first 30 minutes and the last 30 minutes of a day are when the majority of accidents happen.  Why?  An easy answer, during the first thirty minutes people are excited and travelling to quickly, during the last thirty minutes become are fatigued.  This sounds easy but can become hard to do when travelling in a group or trying to stick to hard coded itinerary.   Address these issues prior to starting out.

 If you planned accordingly you won’t have to rush, if you’re prepared properly you shouldn’t have to rush.  Of course there are many other factors to consider when talking about safety but we firmly believe these three are a good starting point.  First aid equipment and know how, spare parts for your vehicle, using modern technology like a Spot tracker and many more are all very important as well.  If the “big three” are given some serious thought they will include all of these items. 

Off road and non paved travel is dangerous by nature, we encourage you to take the risks seriously.  Know that we have provided suggested routes.  Of course they may not be doable.  Road closures and the environment can create situations where the suggested routes are not feasible.  The key word here is SUGGESTED routes.  Don’t compromise your safety by trying to follow a route that gets you in over your head.  Turning around is not a shameful thing to do, it’s smart.

Weather

The weather in Canada varies greatly, from temperate in the south to subacrtic and acrtic in the North. As a generalization it can be said that Canada becomes cold and is covered in snow during the winter months, but of course there are exceptions to every statement.

For most of Canada spring begins in April, gravel roads become snow and ice free sometime during this season.  Summer starts in June and lasts until early September.  Fall consists of September, October and then winter sets in again.  The routes desribed are meant to be travelled during the spring, summer and fall seasons.

The temperatures for each season vary greatly from one part the country to the next.  The eastern provinces often experience a longer winter and cooler summer time temperatures.  Central Canada is prone to high summer temperatures and high humidty.  The prairies and eastern mountain ranges offer moderate temperatures and a very low humidity rate.  Western Canada is called a rainforest for good reasons, the winter months are typically quite moist.  Rain or snow depending on elevation is common during the winter and spring seasons.  The northern half of Canada can best be described as arctic weather. 

We have reiterated this over and over on the site.  Canada is huge and diverse, we cannot begin to describe the weather without making mistakes or generlizations.  Fortunatley the internet has several sites where you can check the weather and weather patterns for an area.   This saves us the time and saves you from guessing what to expect.

This Canadian government can be very useful

http://www.weatheroffice.gc.ca/canada_e.html

For undertaking one of the overland routes we provide the weather becomes a big factor.  Choosing the appropriate date for your trip is quite important.  Some routes are best left until spring snow melts are finished, some are best done later in the year when mountain passes will be more likely to be snow free and some are best done early in the season before insects become an issue.  The length of daylight varies greatly from region to region and from spring to fall season.  There is no real right or wrong, but rather these are all items you should consider when travelling.  Travelling in the rainy months or during the the months when the sun sets early can all detract from an expedition.  Yes the weather is unpredictable but in todays age with satellite weather forecastings and weather statistics it makes it easier to make an informed choice and to increase your odds of having nice weather.

Weather affects non paved roads and trails in a big way.  A road can go from being hard packed and easy to travel to a slick wet beast.

wetroad

A big allure for many of us who enjoy overland travel is to be out in the elements.  Watching the stars at night or sun rises over camp in the morning all sound great.  The reality is that at some point the weather will turn bad.  Enjoying a few days of cold temperatures, pouring down rain, unexpected snow covered roads, high winds and everything else that mother nature can and will throw at us makes enjoying these time trying to say the least.  Preperation is essential to not letting bad weather hamper your expedition.  Doing the approrpriate research and then packing and dressing accordingly can turn a bad situation into an enjoyable one.

Weather can and will affect the length of time an expedition will take.  The rate of travel and length of travel in a day can change dramtically based on the weather.  Again, all part of the research you should do before setting out.  For folks new to thsi type of travel things like the wind may not have been a consideration.  Not only can it affect your fuel consumption but also your fatigue levels.  Gripping the steering wheel with white knuckles while strong cross winds try to blow your vechicle off the road can easily make a drive stressful and will wear you out much faster than a sunny day taking pictures.  On a bike wind can be a huge issue.  Not only can a cross wind fatigue you, it can create muscle cramps in the neck and your entire body can get a work out leaning into the wind for miles.

If time permits it is a wise person who will sit out the days of bad weather.  Not only for safety concerns but also to enjoy a day off when mother nature presents it.  Sadly this is not always an option and travel during extreme weather may have to be a reality.  We can't stresss enough to be careful. 

p7250034

A common misconception is that sunny days are the best and safest for travelling.  Riding into the sun can reduce visibility.  Days on end of no rain brings dust into the equation.  Many of the roads that the different routes travel are gravel roads that are travelled by logging/mining/industry trucks.  These behemoths can create conditions that are very intense to ride in.  Similar to white out conditions from snow, dust clouds envelope you and leave you blind.  Often times slowing down is not an option as there may be traffic behind you.  Take caution and know what is behind you as you enter a dust cloud.  Prior to getting into it have a look and know if the road is straight or if it has a corner up ahead.

dust With proper planning the weather can be  anticipated and with the proper preparation can be enjoyed.  We encourage you to do your research and plan and pack accordingly.   Let's hope that all days are clear and sunny Cool 

rree2014logo50percent