I had a group of seven guys out for the past two days…we spent both days on the Gaff Topsails. Yesterday it rained all day after about 7 inches of wet snow the night before. I would have been satisfied to sit that one out but we did find lots of snow on the Gaff that we knew would be a lot of fun if it were not raining and cooler! Today we trucked up Millertown Junction Road about 20 km from here and off loaded the machines to avoid the track ride and spend more time playing. The road was perfect going and it only took us a few minutes to drive the 15km or so into the Junction. The tracks were really good going in places and in others we had to get off to the side. But for those of you who know the Gaff, this is normal where the track is high and exposed. But the tracks was not our destination. The areas along Mary March brook were and we had a ball! The brook is actually running after all the snow followed by rain although you could cross back and forth in many places. There is loads of snow in the woods and along the brook and the water is running off fast. I am heading back Friday with another group from Scotland….can’t wait. It was a very cold and windy day…difficult for pictures so I only have one. I would rate the areas we rode as good but not excellent as I know how much better it can be. As for Hodges, I will be checking out that area tomorrow and will post another update. For now since I don’t know, I have to leave Hodges as poor but likely has improved.
Archive for the ‘Winter Trip Reports’ Category
Today we went for a ride with the expectations of poor conditions. For the most part we were right although we rode a fair few KMs where the going was decent. Cornfield is a mess with the vehicles using it so we took the short cut to the Ridge Road. Most of it was not ice but hard snow. The open areas on the higher elevations had a lot of bare spots we had to go around. Jay and I had some fun climbing a couple hills where the trees were close and the snow was still soft and deep enough….1.5 to 2 feet and dense. The Ridge road was decent going and Hodges trail was OK. These two pictures were taken up Hodges Trail. Other than than the dead end side roads though we ran out of options pretty quick and headed back around 3:00. If you are coming out specifically for skidooing, its no good. If you are coming out and would be satisfied to put 40-50km on and not mind a few obstacles, well, it is OK for that. You won’t find a full days riding here though without backtracking so take your kettle and maybe an ice auger and fishing line…you will have a good day. As for the Gaff I don’t know but I suspect much the same. More snow please!
Well I finally go to the Gaff today and what a ball we had. Although there is not a lot of snow on some open country areas and lots more on others you could still point you skis and go! Now if you know where the play areas are its no sweat to find endless drifts like the ones we ripped up today. I can’t wait to get the Backcountry back there this weekend but I had no hesitation making the Expedition 1200 beast fly today! We had so much fun we hardly stopped for pictures. We took the long route up there but came back the Trans-C-Rail which to my surprise, were not too bad. Time to get the groomer on the go NLSF!! Seems like everyone is due for a warmer day on Thursday. I suspect and hope that this will be below 0 and snow up on the Gaff. We saw one lone moose and then three together.
While things have improved significantly I am still going to leave the conditions as good… just to be safe. All the roads and trails are in really good shape. The ditch banging has been steadily improving as well. I took a bunch of young guys into Hodges in search of powder play and found plenty. We spent about two hours of our run hill climbing between the trees last Saturday and had a ball. I pasted one of their testimonials below. Almost lost them though….once again due to people in Grand Falls – Windsor assuming there is no snow in the backcountry. It’s a constant battle with that! Anyhow I convinced then to stay and were very pleased to say the least. I posted a picture of a truck which went off the road just in from the chalets about 500 meters. That’s what happens when you drive on snowmobile trails LOL! I went in and hauled them out with the back hoe all the same.
“We arrived in Grandfalls January 21st, 2013 with high expectations of lots of snow , we booked the riverfront chalets and a snowmobile tour for 2 days . The conditions along the highway and in Grandfalls were very discouraging , Also we stopped into town to pick up supply’s for our stay,and the local residents were encouraging us to go more west to find the snow as they thought the snowmobiling conditions in Grandfalls were horrible because of the amount of Snow in town , well let me tell you that DO NOT go by the conditions close to the highway or in the town of Grandfalls because Paul and the rest of the gang from riverfront chalets will bring you to the snow and let you have the time of your life , myself and my buddies were very thankful that we stuck it out and gave Riverftont Chalets a chance and never ventured on further to the west coast !”
Well there are many people waiting for this update so I will get to the point. I have downgraded the conditions to GOOD a few days ago because I was suspicious of how much damage Sunday and Monday’s weather had on the backcountry. It was warm island wide with about 5 degrees here in Central. We lost a lot of snow on the windswept areas like open bogs and highpoints on roads. However, I was still able to drive 60 km and hour across most of 9 mile bog today. As you can see from the picture there is lots of grass in view but still pretty level and very few rocks exposed. Although it is pretty hard in places it is not ice and it is no trouble to be breaking through enough to keep most machines cool, with powder in places. I saw 7 or 8 caribou today….they are here for the winter now. As for the roads and trails…..for the most part pretty good going although a bit of powder would make them perfect. The main trails are packed hard now but it easy to find powder on the sides to cool machines. With regard to powder play there are lots of places where you can get off the main trails and pick around the woods in powder 2 feet or more. On the Hodges Road there is still some pretty deep snow for ditch banging. I was sad to see all the snow had fallen from the trees in the higher country, which I expected to be covered in snow until the end of the winter. It rarely gets warm that high even when it gets warm down here. It won’t be long before it looks like winter wonderland again though I am sure. So if your are looking for endless deep powder, I would suggest head to the west coast. I am going to keep the condition rated as good for now but even 6 inches or snow will upgrade to excellent again…hopefully Tuesday by the look of it.
Well it was a great time having the Sledworthy crew out for an awesome weekend of riding! I officially accepted my Sledworthy award up on Hodges. The boys were tempted to drive on to the West Coast when they saw how little snow was around the chalets. Lets just say they were glad they stayed and they will be back! We spent two days ripping up the backcountry. There were some places we couldn’t get because we need another few feet of snow to get there but the roads trails are in awesome shape and the ditch bangin is coming along too….lots of deep powder along the higher roads. We all opened up across 9 mile bog with plenty jumps along the way. The West end of Barrens Pond is starting to drift in…not like it will be a bit later but we all had fun ripping that up for an couple hours. There were some nice jumps too as you can see from the pics. The climb to the ice castle was good to go too! I still haven’t been to the Gaff but the boys in chalet #3 were and said there was lots of powder and huge drifts. I hope to get there over the couple days. I have been on many of the larger lakes now and there is plenty ice and plenty of snow on them so that’s all good to go. It’s shaping up to be a great winter of riding here in Central!
Hello all. What better way to ring in the new year than an awesome midnight run on sled! To ring in the new year a friend of mine and I took a midnight run into Hodges and out 10 Mile road. The roads and trails are in excellent shape. Today, we made it to the top of Hodges no sweat. We didn’t go right to the Ice Castle due to lack of time but it looked good thanks to the last storm which fell down straight and heavy. I haven’t been to the Gaff yet but I imagine it is excellent going with lots of snow. As for ice, I am unsure of the bigger inside lakes but we have been on the ice now since early December. I will be checking that soon though. There doesn’t seem to be as much snow on the North side of Hodges but plenty on the South side as you can see from the pictures. As for ditch-banging, well you have to be careful until we get more but you don’t have to stick to the roads only. So if you want to blow the dust out of your sled and treat yourself to a stay at a luxurious accommodation, load her up and come on out! Happy New year to you all! I gotta go burn some more gas!
I just got back from a ride into the backcountry chalet and was happy to see the amount of snow left and the condition of the roads and ice. It has been a very warm week here in the valley. It was 15 degrees out today and the kids had their dirt bikes out and riding in shirts. The driveways are even starting to dry up. I trailered my machine in Cornfield about 100 feet so I wouldn’t have to drive on dirt at all. I didn’t have to far in the road before there were no dirt patches from trucks driving in the road and once I took my first right and started climbing, conditions improved as I drove. I took a side road detour and found myself sinking in about 2 1/2 feet of snow. If it was to turn cold again you could go anywhere but at these temperatures its best to stick to the road and beaten paths. The roads were awesome! I got to the cabin in 45 minutes..put it that way! The brooks are out but the ice in the lakes and ponds are still solid. As you can see from the picture ice is only starting to degrade. There are areas where there are a few rocks showing through the road on the way in to the higher country but easily avoidable. For the most part though the roads have at least 1 foot of hard packed snow. If you are booked in for this weekend be prepared to either stick to the roads and trails or if you are comfortable skipping the brooks and washouts to get to the backcountry you can go most anywhere, including both Hodges climbs. The bogs and open country are still good when the temperature is down but as the day warms up it is patchy and rough. Its best to stay on the roads, trails and ice.
Yesterday, we had 13 sleds out on Friday for what I think I will make an annual event. Considering the awesome riding conditions here we did not have a big weekend booked. This is due to the constant battle of convincing the rest of the island (including people from Central) that the riding conditions are as good as they are even though there is practically no snow in the valley. I am sure when people from central read this post they will be surprised these pictures were taken yesterday. We decided to invite some regular customers out at a discounted rate and offer free guiding for the day. It was not a tour, just a ride with friends. This allowed me to have some extra fun as I relieved myself of the responsibilities of a paid tour. I spent a good part of the day looking for jumps, climbs and water skipping opportunities, of which I found plenty! We all had a ball! We had a family call last minute looking for a place to sleep while on the way to the West coast to ride. I mentioned on the phone that we had plenty snow here so they should come with us on Friday. It took some convincing as they thought I was out to lunch when they arrived to see the lack of snow around the chalets. Boy were they glad they stayed! They had a fantastic day and were blown away by the amount of snow, the country. Once again we converted another group that they do not have to drive an extra 3 hours to ride mountains and experience late season riding. They will be back. Nothing against the West Coast…its stunning over there and I ride there myself a couple times a year, but it is not the only place on the island with such landscape and winter conditions. Riders need to explore other options. One thing I love about the North East coast is the lack of people. Its easy to find untouched climbs and unbeaten trails. On out trips we don’t see many other riders.
We traveled 150km yesterday covering back country roads, trails, open country and hills. It snowed for a good part of the trip, sometimes heavily and not a flake fell at the chalets. It was a warm comfortable day…I expect today we will be riding in only our shirts. Although we had barrels of fun I was, and still am, a bit sad knowing the winter is coming to an end. The forecast for this week is warm but I think we will pull through it. Its going to be an early spring though as I am used to riding until very late April into Hodges and early May on the Gaff. Those of you who know me are aware of how much I love riding. Although the there is still lots of snow I already can’t wait until next season. So far I have racked up over 7000km since early January and that’s considering we lost over a week when we lost good riding conditions early this winter. This is a lot considering so much of our our riding here in central is backcountry trails. Still I look forward to meeting the group of the day and visiting the same places day after day. I never get sick of it and it is always a pleasure. We don’t have a large number of kids coming to the chalet, especially riding their own sleds but this year there has been the exception. They have no trouble keeping up either! These two, Andrew and Mark did very well indeed. There was another young fellow, Tyler who fit right in as well and they all had a great time!
I would like to use this post to thank all of you who came out to ride with me this season. I know you will all be back next year…many of you multiple times. I would also like to express my appreciation for all of you who voted for us in the recent Sleddy Awards. We won both “Guide of the Year” and “Accommodation of the Year”. This is a a great honor for us and very much appreciated. Well as many of you have heard me say, I have to go “burn some gas”. My barrel for this week is not empty yet!
I have to add another piece to this post. Many of you know my little buddy Jack who is 6 years old. He has an Arctic Cat 120 and has been riding for two seasons now. Last year he hardly rode at all though as he found the machine too slow….and it was. It had a top speed of about 10 km per hour. I can’t blame him for being bored! As soon as the warranty ran out I removed the speed controller and now 25km per hour is no problem! He is having a ball now. He loves to “ditch bang” all the way in to our backcountry cabin which is over 25km from here. He rarely sits and always wears his snow-cross helmet, goggles and chest protector. He learned a lesson of limitation the other day when he tried to climb a hill from the ditch which was about 8 feet high. It was too steep to climb straight on so he attempted it on a 45 degree angle. Of course he rolled his machine right over himself and back down into the ditch. He damaged his ego and broke his marker flag off the machine. I wasn’t there but caught up on the scene and everyone was cracking laughing. It was a proud moment for me as a father of a boy who is going to be an awesome rider. He is constantly looking for jumps too…where did he pick that up I wonder LOL? We were out yesterday (Sunday) building jumps for Jack which worked out well. The more confident he got the higher I built the ramp and before long he was clearing two feet high and 6 feet in distance. He is already begging this morning to get back at it. That’s my boy!
My brother came in for his annual late winter snowmobile trip and I took advantage of the time to explore some routes in my own backyard and boy did I find some gems this past few days. What I set out to do is map another quick access to Kippen’s Ridge, an area I have been riding frequently this winter. I did find a route via Mary Ann Lake -South Twin Lake-Gull Lake and on to Seal Bay Bog. What I found on the way was even more exiting. Hills and lots of them all fairly open with spaced trees, bowl-like gulches and lots of snow. I spent the last two days in there and intend on returning soon…this weekend at the latest. We have a good forecast this week with 10-15 cm of snow on the way. We were having so much fun in the hills I neglected my camera duties but I did get a couple shots attached to this post. Its still winter wonderland back there!