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I've thought about the best way to create TCT apparel, gear, and swag for years - but I only recently found the right partner that can print our products on-demand so we can provide the best products for our fans.

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Continued from 6 Days on Hema Map Patrol, Part 1.

Our inability to cross the Continental Divide via Union Pass outside of Pinedale, WY had us a little disappointed. However, after three hard days on the trail, we were happy for a nice night in a soft bed.


Day 5: The National Parks

Day 5 began bright and sunny, so even though we couldn't get over the pass, we decided to explore the Pinedale area before hitting pavement toward Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Parks.

6 Days on Hema Map Patrol with Hema Explorer North America

6 Days on Hema Map Patrol with Hema Explorer North America

The route from Pinedale to Jackson Wyoming, where Teton National Park begins is fairly uneventful pavement. Until, of course, we reached the area of the Lava Mountain Fire just outside of Dubois, WY. Although the fire was over 90% contained when we passed through, the burned mountains were clearly visible, and we even saw smoke still rising from the hills. That fire was caused by lightning and burned over 16,000 acres. Just another reminder to always be very safe with campfires in the backcountry.

 

6 Days on Hema Map Patrol with Hema Explorer North America6 Days on Hema Map Patrol with Hema Explorer North America

Our family had never been to Grand Teton or Yellowstone national parks. The fact that we were scheduled to burn through both parks in one day (during the middle of summer) did not have us very excited. For the un-initiated, Grand Teton sees over 2.5million visitors per year, and Yellowstone hosts over 3 million. Almost all of those visits come during the summer season (June-August), so it's not exactly the best time to explore these amazing parks.

6 Days on Hema Map Patrol with Hema Explorer North America

6 Days on Hema Map Patrol with Hema Explorer North America

6 Days on Hema Map Patrol with Hema Explorer North America

Still, we managed to fight the traffic through bothparks and arrive at Old Faithful for a 6 pm showing. Another major traffic jam leading out of Yellowstone caused us to arrive at our campground on Henry's Lake, Idaho just after dark. It was a gorgeous day of exploring but was very long.

 

Day 6: Now THIS is Exploring!
During our brief stay at Henry's Lake, and after a full day of pavement through the National Parks, Angie and I decided to find some really great areas to explore along the Idaho / Montana border. With our trusty Benchmark Atlas on the picnic table by lantern light, we found just the ticket. Only a couple of miles north of our campground, a small road climbed into the hills and along the Continental Divide. I mean RIGHT along the divide. Heretofore we had crisscrossed the divide dozens of times, but this short 10-mile section of amazing forest road traversed the actual divide. In this area the CD is also the border between Idaho & Montana, so every time Brenden asked which state we were in, he got a different answer. It was quite confusing for a six year old.

6 Days on Hema Map Patrol with Hema Explorer North America

This little route, known mostly as NF-056, provided everything an overland or off-road explorer is looking for: Complete solitude, challenging terrain that's not dangerous, amazing views, and that perfect feeling of discovery. Also, of course, we found more cows. The days of traversing vast areas of Wyoming and fighting crowds and traffic in the National Parks completely paid off. We emerged from this little trail right on the Continental Divide at Red Rock Pass, then pressed West.

6 Days on Hema Map Patrol with Hema Explorer North America

6 Days on Hema Map Patrol with Hema Explorer North America

The next three hours or so were spent traversing first Red Rock Lakes National Wildlife Refuge, then past Lima Reservoir toward the blink-and-you-miss-it Monida, Montana. The ridge of the CD to our south beckoned along the 65+ miles of spirited, dusty driving. A few miles of interstate took us to our next jumping off point, where we once again pointed the Map Patrol 200 Series west into the hills.

We arrived at an intersection after passing through a very nice canyon along Big Sheep Creek. During our planning, we chose this spot as one of the last chances to 'touch' the divide before our portion of the Expedition was completed, and now it was decision time. The children were content enough in their car seats, the little one was about to nap, and we had a little extra time for once. We chose to push south and touch the divide at Bannack Pass.

6 Days on Hema Map Patrol with Hema Explorer North America

Luckily the weather cooperated since the trail, while not terribly difficult, would have been nearly impassible if it were raining. The ~12-mile round trip added a little over an hour to our day's journey but was worth it. In this area of southern Montana, you get the feeling that you're alone, and wouldn't be surprised to see a covered wagon around the next corner.
--Day6-BannackPass--

After the side trip, we continued north along Big Sheep Back Country Byway in Beaverhead National Forest. This long, quick section of dirt once served as the freight road between Corrine, UT and Bannack, MT. Today it's ranchland as far as the eye can see. Day 6 ended near Dillon, MT for more R&R before our final push to Butte, MT.

Day 7: Our Adventure comes to an end.
I know the title is six days on Map Patrol. That was intentional even though we technically were on dirt (mostly) for seven days. Our last day ended up being a half-day. On the highway, it only takes about an hour to drive from Dillon to Butte, however that wouldn't suit a Map Patrol - so we found another fun little scenic byway to traverse. Pioneer Mountains Scenic Byway is a paved section that passes through Beaverhead National Forest from just south of Polaris, MT up to Wise River, MT. We also managed to find a little dirt strip to explore, followed by a short hike to Coolidge, MT - an old mining ghost town named after President Coolidge. This great track and hike were the perfect way to complete our portion of the expedition. It brought us to Divide, MT and the highway just south of Butte.

6 Days on Hema Map Patrol with Hema Explorer North America

We aired up the Land Cruiser for the last time, turned on to the interstate, and a couple of hours later arrived at the dropoff point in Bozeman, Montana. Six (and a half) days on Map Patrol, the Williams Family not only survived but also learned about the best (and worst) parts of mapping routes that thousands of explorers would be able to enjoy.

While we're excited about the next amazing mapping journey, hopefully, the pace will be a bit more...leisurely.

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As a contributor of this fair publication I get to see, and even sometimes drive, some very special off-roading creations...so it's not that often that I get stopped in my tracks by a Land Cruiser. It was only an hour after my first coffee so admittedly my mental faculties are not at their most trustworthy at this time of day, but  several of my senses worked together to convince me that what I was seeing was real. Land Rover have their 127 and 130 crew cab pickups but Toyota doesn't have an equivalent, at least, I didn't think so... but here on the streets of a little village in Brazil, was what looked like a double-cab 40 series driving towards me. Full of people in the back they were obviously going on some kind of off-road safari! The driver mistook my bewilderment in his car for interest in a tour and handed me a leaflet. A phone call later and we arranged to go on a trip in the surrounding jungle the next day. Easy.

Published in Winter 2017

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I have been very fortunate in the number of truly amazing natural wonders I have visited: Mauna Kea, Maze Overlook, The Doll House, Copper Canyon, The White Pockets, and Bisti. There are many other scenic destinations I have yet to see, and in some cases, maybe I’ve waited too late. 

Published in Winter 2017

You remember Oregon Trail, right? The video game you used to play in school, well I certainly do.

For many, stories of the Oregon Trail have fueled our desire for adventure. Well, now you can follow that adventure in a new Overland series from Outlaw Xpeditions

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Celebrating 10 years of epic Toyota Adventure Coverage!

This issue is PACKED FULL of adventure from around the globe...


Download this issue now to read all about:

  • Toroweap Overlook, Grand Canyon

  • GX-470 | Best Kept Overland Secret?

  • Yakima Core-Bar Review

  • 6 Days on Hema Map Patrol, Part 2

  • Astrophotography

  • 2018 Tundra & Sequoia TRD Sport

  • Supercharged Toytec Lifts Tundra
  • New Zealand Coromandel Peninsula

  • Mexico 4Runner Overland Adventure

  • Brazil Land Cruiser Adventure

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Published in Winter 2017

A few months ago a new Overland Web series launched: Bold Overland

This team of 7 is dedicated to using their Toyota vehicles to explore and find amazing adventures all around the United States.

We think they're doing a really great job =)

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It nearly 50 years ago in January 1967 when the first official SEMA show debuted under the grandstands of Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles.  At the time, the show featured 98 booths and approximately 3,000 attendees.  It was not until 1977 when SEMA moved to Las Vegas where it’s been growing rapidly ever since.  Today, the four-day event attracts more than 140,000 attendees and over 2,400 exhibitors from all over the world.  

Published in Fall 2016
Late Summer, 2016. 0600 MDT. Williams Family + Hema Map Patrol Expedition. Day 0.

With over 22 years of military experience, I tend to ... over think things. Add a project that's been 2+ years in the making to my amazing (and very understanding) family and we have the beginning of one amazing adventure.

Published in Fall 2016

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They came from all parts of the country; each sharing a common love affair with adventure, family, and camaraderie that many believe only a Toyota 4x4 can evoke.


From Coast-to-Coast, Texas, to the Northern Border they came. It had never been done in all of the Americas. What started as an informal gathering of a few likeminded Land Cruiser owners in 2015, evolved this year to an unprecedented gathering of over twenty 200 Series Land Cruiser owners in the famous western playgrounds of Moab, Utah and Ouray, Colorado.

Twenty does not sound like a large number, but sightings of late model Land Cruisers are about as rare as seeing a news Rolls-Royce. (Rolls-Royce and Toyota Land Cruiser sales in the US were roughly the same last year). Could it be the stories, the pictures, or perhaps the banter from 2015 that led to this historic gathering? Or was it the fast growing wanderlust seed planted when many purchase their first Land Cruiser, or when watching an episode of an Overland series on YouTube? What drove a gathering of nearly 2 million dollars’ worth of metal to congregate at one place?

Cody Golliher, who resides with his family in Fort Collins, CO, is the organizer of the 200 Series gathering. “I attended FJ Summit several times in the very beginning and it was so much fun to see so many people who shared my same interest and passion,” said Golliher. “It ended up growing so big that it filled up quickly and I was unable to attend. I really wanted to keep going to Ouray with other enthusiasts so I decided to see if there was any interest in other 200 Series Land Cruiser owners who would like to go, and the rest is history.”

Travis Wilcox proposed a great idea to the group: “It’s only 3 hours from Ouray- Let’s also do Moab as a Pre-Run.” And so it was on! The early adventurers arrived in Moab a few days ahead of the larger gathering that would soon convene all arrive in Ouray. This group of six set their sights on the legendary slick rock and rugged trails near Moab. Hells Revenge, Fins & Things, and Top of the World trails gave little resistance to the fully equipped 200 Series Land Cruisers while offering amazing views and memories over tightly gripped steering wheels and taunt seatbelts. It was a textbook demonstration of the rugged and refined capabilities and features of the latest version of Toyota’s flagship vehicle.

200 Series Land Cruiser in Moab
Photo by Ken Reiten

The gods of Moab sought to disrupt the plans to make it to the summit of the Top of the World Trail -throwing lightning bolts, rain, and obstacles that had some questioning the destination. Were the imaginary gods on the side of those who believed the 200 Series Land Cruiser was an $85,000+ mall mobile? The people on this adventure knew better. With only a ½ mile and 500 feet elevation to reach the infamous ledge rock at the summit, the group put safety first and spread out until there was a break in the lightning storm.

Once all was safe and we traversed the rest of the way, the rewards at the summit were majestic views that only the combination of the wet landscape, fog, and the sunlight that illuminated them could have provided. Greg Weik’s Phantom 4 drone was launched, and epic pictures and videos ensued. The next morning, the group set out on a three-hour drive that would put this group in Ouray just as others began arriving from all parts of the country in anticipation of the historic gathering.

200 Series Top of the World
Photo by Greg Weik

It was the afternoon of August 4th in a small park near a picturesque Gazebo in Ouray when history was made. Twenty-one 200 Series Land Cruisers, ranging in years from 2008 to 2016, had gathered in the small town known to be a basecamp for large 4x4 events such as FJ Summit. More than 60 souls convenedmet to get to know each other, share food and drink, share our rig upgrades, and watch our kids blow bubbles and play. “I envisioned a gathering that was intimate where friends were made and families could play. We all have a love for Land Cruisers but I wanted more than just wheeling and a corporate style event,” said Golliher. The gathering was exactly that.

The next three days provided breathtaking trails across the San Juan Mountains including Engineer Pass, Poughkeepsie Gulch, Imogene Pass, and the formidable and feared Black Bear Pass-in the rain. For some, it would be the first true test of their stock or modified Land Cruiser. Yes, these are also cushy rides with heated leather seats, 18-speaker sound system and a built-in refrigerated cooler in the console. Don’t let that fool you. The observed smiles said it all—the kind of smile you see when your daughter kicks her first soccer goal or you son puts a ball through the hoop for the first time. in his first basket. These Toyotas really are Legendary. They really do defy logic and physics to overcome the obstacles ahead with unsurpassed reliability and safety.

Group photo of 17 200 Series Cruisers at Black Bear Pass Summit
Photo by Greg Weik

In the lower valley in Ouray, a highlight of the event was the Slee Off-road Road-sponsored group gathering for drinks and dinner. Friendships were forged and social media connections were made. The kids spoke of the Pokémon they caught and, with equal excitement, the elk they saw earlier in the day.

Golliher has pondered the future for the group. “I really like the idea of destination places each year. I love Ouray but there are so many other great places to visit,” he said. “It's not just off-roading but seeing new places with your friends and family. It will get more challenging as we grow but we'll adjust as it happens. I do not envision this ever becoming a big sponsored event, but one that stays true to people and enjoying great company.”

On the last day, the skies sky’s cleared to reveal the true beauty of this area. The blue sky, clean mountain air, the small stream crossings, and the majestic mountain views clearly demonstrated why this area is called the “Switzerland of the U.S.A.”. That evening, the group all gathered once more to break bread, enjoy a home grown brew, and share stories of the day. Goodbyes, handshakes, and hugs were abundant, - but so was the talk at every table….of next year.

If you have a 200 series Land Cruiser (2008-2017) and would like to join the adventure, be on the lookout for postings for the next adventure slated for 2017 on the 200 series IH8MUD forum. Special thanks to photographers for their submissions. See more of Ken Reiten’s work at reiten.smugmug.com and Matt Frederick’s work at themirrorpool.smugmug.com.

Rainbow on the Last Dollar Road between Telluride and Ouray
Photo by Matt Frederick

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    Published in Summer 2016
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