Toward the end of 2004, we found our way to a Web site that we'd never been to before. It was Island4x4.com, which we discovered to be a site by and for Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada four-wheelers dedicated to multiple aspects of 'wheeling and outdoor recreation. It isn't a 4x4 club, really, but rather more of an "un-club" of sorts, which serves as a meeting grounds for like-minded folks who mostly live in the same area (Victoria, Vancouver Island) and who share a love for all things 'wheeling. There aren't any dues to pay, and scheduled meetings are held on the trail or they aren't held at all. We liked the site's style and the message board posts made us laugh, so it earned a spot on our favorites list, where we would stop back by from time to time just to see what was going on.
Shifting forward a few months, our interest was finally piqued enough that we were ready to make our way north to see what these "island people" were all about. We began a sporadic correspondence with a character called Jo-Jo, who turned out to be the founder of Island4x4.com and one of the best trail bloodhounds in the area. With recent trail closures making it increasingly difficult to find legal areas to 'wheel, Jo-Jo and crew realized that if they were to continue pursuing their hobby on the island they called home, that new trails needed to be opened and maintained. Using any and every map he could get his hands on, Jo-Jo spent every spare moment exploring the Shawnigan Lake and Lake Cowichan areas, which lie upon both public and private lands. The majority of the area is riddled with active and retired logging roads, which serve as a launching pad into the bush. From there, Jo-Jo twisted his Jeep CJ through every off-shoot trail he came across, with some reaching nothing but dead ends and others leading to greater trail structures with seemingly no end.
After setting and switching dates a couple times, we eventually scheduled a weekend with Jo-Jo and the Island4x4.com crew, which, for that particular weekend, consisted of mostly island occupants and a few mainlanders. Day one of the excursion brought us to the Shawnigan Lake area, where we covered three separate trails called Union Labor, Gong Show, and Huckleberry. We moved on to the Lake Cowichan area on day two and stumbled through the trails Redballz, Carnage Alley, and Proving Grounds. All the trails offered plenty of obstacles, with many requiring a winch pull or two by even the more capable rigs. None, however, were for those worried about body damage.
Island4x4.com hosts a series of events, trail rides, trail cleanups, and 4WD-related seminars throughout the year, with some on an annual basis and others whenever the members feel like it. One event that has achieved an annual status is the Zuks on the Rocks event, which is an informal trail run held in October. The Island4x4 un-club also hosts its Mystery Run scavenger hunt, a Halloween-time Nightmare Run, a Christmas-time Santa's Anonymous Toy Run, random club invitational runs, and an annual Trail Jam camping and 'wheeling weekend. For more information about Island4x4.com, check out www.island4x4.com.