“Steer closer to me!” yelled my trail buddy as I was about to go across a swampy area. He had convinced me that it was perfectly safe to go through a swampy patch by driving with the passenger side of my SUV on the more solid ground that happened to be next to a precipice. Sure, we were in the middle of no-where in the reserve Rouge-Matawin in northern Quebec with no cell phone reception on a solo expedition. What could possibly go wrong?
It was the end of spring; a buddy and I went on a 3 days trip in Mont-Tremblant National Park with the objective to do some hiking but especially off-road exploration in the reserve Rouge-Matawin located at the north side of the park. While the park principal attraction is hiking, canoeing and camping, the reserve is for fishing and hunting; therefore it is the place to go for off the beaten path exploration. We started by exploring a small part of the reserve by following one of the main off-road track for which the reserve’s service personnel first suggested not to follow, as it would be a rough ride.
“You will need a high clearance vehicle to do that trail”
My buddy and I looked at each other and I said, “This is exactly the type of trail we are looking for!”
After being registered to travel down that trail (it's free, it's just a formality) we went on with our exploration. While the trail was indeed rough at times, it was not particularly challenging. Any unmodified 4X4 vehicle could have done it with no issues. On the way back, we picked a trail that clearly, no one had been on for a while.
I had a set of MAXTRAX on the roof rack and a small foldable shovel; it wouldn’t be an adventure if there wasn’t any small risk, ok maybe some medium risk in that case. I switched from 4X4 low to 4X4 high and then relied on my spotter who also wanted to film the whole thing with my iPhone. I got some momentum and went through. I was able to get through; the swamp was not too deep and short enough that in the worst of a case, the MAXTRAX would have most likely extracted my truck from that mini swamp. We kept going but the trail started to be swampier until we arrived at a very large puddle. At that point, it would have been unreasonable to continue on as a solo vehicle without a winch so we turned back. The passage through the smaller swampy area previously traversed went well, although I covered my trail buddy in mud since he did not follow my advice to stay clear as he wanted to take the shot again.
We made it back to the main gravel trail and then returned back to base camp for a well deserved cold beer away from the deer flies!