The Superlift 4xAdventure Series is unusual in that it shuns most standard, well-known off-roading locations. Instead, its organizers concentrate on finding areas that offer a totally new experience for off-road explorers. This keeps the series tantalizingly fresh from year to year, and 2001 was no exception as they introduced the first-ever Canada Superlift 4xAdventure.
The Great White North
OK, so Canada is actually green in August when the 4xAdventure took place, but it's well known for its long winters, hence the nickname. One of the reasons Canada is so appealing from an outdoors point of view is that it features a significant amount of uninhabited space. Part of this is because of the fact that the country is more than 822,000 square miles larger than the U.S., with only a fraction of the U.S. population. The Superlift 4xAdventure was held near Minden, Ontario, which is roughly 1-1/2 hours northeast of Toronto. The terrain in this neck of the woods is just that: woods; and it's dotted with clean, clear lakes that make for a stunning landscape. Canada itself is much like the U.S. in terms of modern conveniences, and many of our fast food restaurants and hotel chains are prevalent in Canada. Canada's money is different (and colorful), as is their standard of measurement (metric), and it's not unusual to see Russian-built Lada automobiles putting around because they are not banned for import to Canada as they are in the U.S.
As you can imagine, the rugged, lightly populated Canadian terrain has created a need for four-wheel-drive vehicles, and this need has spawned numerous four-wheel-drive clubs.
The Northern Lights
Leading the trail rides during the 4xAdventure were members of the Northern Lights 4x4 Trailriders Association, and they're one of the premier 4x4 clubs in Ontario. In addition to organized four-wheeling, they're active in trail signage and trash cleanup programs as well as educational video production. Their roots extend back to 1998, when they were formed in response to a land-planning and management program launched by the Ontario government called Lands for Life. This program caused alarm among several four-wheel-drive clubs that were concerned about the impact that any resulting policy may have had on access to Crown Land. Thus, they banded together, and today the Northern Lights consists of 14 member clubs and 50 individual members, totaling more than 1,800 four-wheelers. They have an in-depth knowledge of the Ontario trails, so it was only natural for them to be chosen as the guides for the three-day Superlift event.
Mud, Granite, and Trees
The headquarters for the Canada Superlift 4xAdventure was the South Lake Trailer Park campground, and when we arrived, it was stuffed wall to wall with 4x4s, mostly owned by folks from Ontario and Quebec. The Superlift semi, tent, and staff was on hand as they are with all the events in the series, and the crew from Sports-In-The-Rough had the dining tent and cooking facilities up and ready to go (each 4xAdventure includes five hot meals).
Each day, more than eight trail rides left the campground, and they ran the rating scale from easy to difficult. We tagged along on the Greens Mountain trail ride on both days because it was the most difficult, and we dig that sort of thing. Locals told us that this hasn't been a normal year for rainfall in Ontario, and as a result the trails have gotten substantially less challenging because many of the usual mudholes were dried up. That may be true, but we were surprised at the high level of challenge on this trail, and we think that in a normal year these trails would be very challenging indeed. In addition to huge slabs and boulders of granite that require a modified vehicle and driver experience, there are numerous off-camber hillclimbs to deal with. During our run, we only came across a couple of mudholes, and we had trouble with those because they were bottomless and gooey, yet we could see that much of the trail is normally muddy, including areas around major obstacles. This illustrated that the area has a fantastic potential for challenge when wet. All in all, there were many surprising obstacles lurking in the Ontario forest, and our group of modified vehicles often had our hands full recovering vehicles or repairing driveline damage. Awesome views often greeted our group as we topped hills that offered stunning views of the Haliburton Highlands and the scores of picturesque lakes.
In addition to hard-core trail rides, the Canada Superlift 4xAdventure offers a full schedule of trailruns that include everything from moderate four-wheeling to scenic drives with little challenge. Plans are being made for the 2002 event, and more information can be obtained by contacting Sports-In-The-Rough, (866) EVENT INFO (383-6846), or visit its Web site, www.sportsintherough.com.