If you’re anything like me, the May long-weekend kicks off the start of camping season across Canada. It’s a wonderful time when nature enthusiasts from all walks of life head into the wilderness in search of a little slice of nature. If you’re lucky you’ll find a quiet and tranquil area, a place to forget the daily grind and immerse yourself in the wonders of the Canadian wilderness. At least that’s what most campers hope for.
For the past two decades, we’ve dusted off the tent, booked our site many, many, many months in advance and waited with anticipation for what we hope will be the wilderness trip that beats all other wilderness trips. And every year without fail, each new site we try leaves us feeling more irritated and unrested than the previous year.
Last year for the first time we swore we would never do another car camping trip again. For a while car camping served a basic purpose; get us into the great outdoors while still having access to the conveniences of public campgrounds. After all, showers and plumbing can be nice but it does attract a certain type of camper. You know the type of camper who brings so much stuff it has you questioning why they left home in the first place. After over two decades of disappointing camping trips, crowded beaches, noisy neighbours, and congested campgrounds. My wife and I had literally given up hope of ever going on that perfect camping trip into the pristine Canadian wilderness.
That was until this past weekend. We booked a different type of camping trip. One that resembled the type of exploring we did abroad. Enter Hastings Overland. An all-inclusive overland vehicle rental company based out of Vancouver, BC.
“The worst part of the trip, it was just too short.”
- Chloe Klein (10 years old)
Run by Maxwell and Cory, two Vancouver Islanders who have extensive knowledge of the region they live and work in. Hastings Overland has a small yet impressive fleet of fully loaded 4x4 JEEPs, but the real value came apparent when we chose to get a customized trip plan. The company prides itself on customer service and it shows. Weeks before we left we received a customized itinerary plan based on our initial conversation. The entire experience felt like we were dealing with an old friend who wanted to arrange an incredible trip for us. It was clear from this point that it was going to be different than any other camping trip. It was going to take us deeper into the wilderness and take us a little out of our comfort zone. But it promised to deliver a unique and memorable experience which it followed through on, and then some. One of our initial concerns was backcountry safety. The team quickly provided us with the information we needed to feel informed and reassured should any issue arise, we would have all the knowledge and equipment necessary to manage. You can’t put a value on peace of mind, but if you could Hastings Overland has a head start on the competition.
One of the other unique features of a Hastings Overland trip are the vehicles. We were told to bring our clothes, sleeping bags and food. Everything else would be taken care of. And if you’ve ever packed for a car-camping trip. You’ll appreciate this feature every step of the way. Our vehicle was a top of the line JEEP Rubicon, just added to the fleet this year. It came accessorized with a 4 person rooftop tent, awning, table, chairs, kitchen set, cooker and a small fridge which was perfect for our 3-day trip. A first aid kit and satellite messenger were also included, which I’m happy to report weren’t required
We chose to stay in the Squamish and Pemberton Regions and we explored a number of backcountry routes, which made it possible to see places one just couldn’t get to with a non-capable vehicle. What this meant to us was that we could finally get to those quiet more remote areas with little to no one else around, but it was still close enough to a town that if we needed assistance it would be available.
Both sites we stayed at provided us with pristine views of the wilderness. The first a ridge-line overlooking a breathtaking valley. And the second an active river, with surrounding snow-capped peaks, and valleys of lush and rugged forests. Each unique and each providing us with the perfect location to admire the wilderness in peace and quiet. When your trip comes to an end, all you can really hope for are a hand full of memories. But this trip felt different. We had a chance to witness nature in it’s untamed, un-manicured state. We stood in valleys looking up to melting snow lines flowing into raging waterfalls, ricocheting off rugged rocks, feeding into lush forests and plunging into ice cold rapids. You can’t help but feel so small, so insignificant and on the same hand lucky to be alive and to be a part of these magnificent ecosystems. We left feeling connected not just to our environment, but more so to each other.
If you have any plans of visiting Vancouver, British Columbia or the surrounding areas and want a unique way to explore the areas most visitors and even locals don’t get the chance to see. If you want to create some truly meaningful and long-lasting memories, support a local business run by folks with an appreciation for travel, the wilderness and a passion for getting you to push your boundaries. Give the awesome folks at Hastings Overland a shout and get them working out a plan just for you. You won’t regret it.
Check out my instagram stories for some more footage from the trip: