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!
Archive for the ‘Winter Trip Reports’ Category
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!
Another awesome day into Hodges. We had a group from Gander today who have been to Mount Peyton many times. They were very impressed with Hodges and the conditions. We had a ball at the landing drift and a few of us got some pretty good air. The conditions here on the roads and trails are perfect. There is some icy road for the first km or so into Cornfield but after that they are flat and lots of snow. We have openings all this week so whether you stay at the chalets or not you should take advantage of the great riding around here.
Not over yet! Just had a great weekend on the sleds with an awesome group. Although the roads and trails were hard dues to the temperature we had about an inch of snow fall on Saturday which kept the machines cool. Lots of snow in Hodges. The open country through Peace Valley is still nearly void of snow in places but there is enough to pick your way though. We could have avoided it and kept to the trails but the view, as always, is too much to pass up. A few stucks in around Hodges Pass but a great time had by all! We decided to truck to Dawes Pond Road on Saturdays Gaff tour as we had some people two up. I also knew that conditions in the Mary March Brook area were excellent and wanted to spend the bulk of our day there. We had 4 new guys join our group today and two of them had overheating issue so it was a good thing we started at Dawes Pond or it would have been a very long day. Interestingly, they were both on Yamahas with 4 cylinders. There were two other Yamahas there with 3 cylinders and didn’t have a hitch. They were all very similar machines. The temperature stayed very cold all day which kept the trails hard until we got to the Mary March Brook area where there was loads of soft snow to play in. With 15 machines we ripped up the brook from one end to the other…a great time and certainly no overheating! For those of you booked in next week we are supposed to get snow on Monday and Tuesday….30 to 40 cm! We are in for an awesome week of snowmobiling! For those of you thinking about coming out you should tell the boss you are sick and come out to ride Sheila’s Brush"!
Chalets – South Brook
Well I can’t say enough about this trip! It’s a route that you will consider as one of the best, if not the best trip you had ever done. If you have decent GPS skills you can easily do this one with-out a guide.
We had our first client based trip last Tuesday and the feedback was excellent! I can give you the main points and junctions in this trip description but it would be best if you uploaded the track to your GPS.
We left the chalets last Tuesday at 9 in the morning with 5 customers and two good friends…all eager for a long, scenic ride on a beautiful clear day. Leaving the chalets we went straight across the highway on Cornfield road and traveled to Rocky Brook warm up shack which took about 45 minutes. There we stopped for a break and chat about the beautiful day and the trip ahead. I didn’t want to stop too long as I knew we had much ground to cover and little extra time in the case of mechanical issues.
Two weeks ago four friends and I did a trip from the chalets to South Brook via Warrs road. We had an excellent lunch at Eddies Restaurant and headed on through to Kippen’s Ridge, Seal Bay Bog, Frozen Ocean lake, 9 Mile Bog, Hodges and back to the chalets. It was definitely one of the best trips in my life for sure! Today, we did a the same loop and added in the leg to Roberts Arm. I have to say, if you like hilly landscape with lots of sharp turns and beautiful views you should do this trip! Its about 220KM of consistent pure fun! For those of you familiar with the trip from Deer Lake to and up White River road this trip is very similar with the same kind of terrain and trails. The only exception for the better was the leg to Roberts Arm which is like a amusement park ride with constant sharp turns and quick inclines and drops. The trail was in really good shape until we got about two km from town where heavy traffic had made the trail way too rough to travel at a fun speed. We turned around at this point before and headed back to continue our trip but I will never be able to pass that side trip up again. I will be posting the track on this blog soon so if you have the time, download it and ride this loop. You will be glad you did!
Had a great weekend snowmobiling this past weekend. Snow? The pictures speak for themselves. We headed to Hodges on Friday for some hill climbing where the snow on the hill was plenty but pretty hard as it was near zero degrees. Still for all we had a few sleds stuck climbing the slopes. It was the Gaff for Saturday. Unfortunately South Brook was out so we had to run up the tracks from Dawes Pond Road. The going was pretty good so we were able to travel pretty fast all the way up to the Gaff. It was a little picky getting up there once we hit the open country but the amount of snow past the Quarry was amazing. In fact I don’t the Gaff has lost much snow at all. If you look at a couple older posts from this season, above the pics of the same cabin are not much different than they are now. The snow is still up to the eve! This is the time to be on the Gaff, only for the going to be comfortable it needs to be warm. At least 15 degrees would be best! As for this weekend and Hodges, I will be taking a run in tomorrow and provide an update as we did have it fairly warm this past couple days. I will keep you posted.
A sad day for me! You all know how much I enjoy snowmobiling. It all went out with a bang yesterday. We had two great tours to end it off though! Friday was fantastic. Still lots of snow but it got pretty soft towards the end of the day. However we still did the regular route to the top of Hodges, through Peace Valley, back-country chalet, Monica Bog and out. We only had one small brook go out on us which wasn’t a big deal. It was over 20 degrees and we were riding with shirts or thin jackets on. On the way back out to greet Saturdays tour (my family was spending Easter in the back-country chalet) it was clear the snow was going to take a beating that day. I met the group, drove to the top of Hodges and looked down on Peace Valley (where I passed just 2 hours before with very little slush evident) and saw that the whole valley was filling up with water. It looked like fun to me and after consulting with the group, we decided that we would take the fun route….through Peace Valley where we normally go. Keep in mind the water was not deep and the group was very interested at learning what this “skipping water” was all about. It was a laugh! I would go through first on my wide track which cleared the slush which filled in with water and the group, one by one would follow. Out of the group there was only one guy who had skipped water before so it was a wonderful learning experience for them all as they found out the true capabilities of them and their machines. I think when it came to the Peace Valley portion of the trip we did more sea-doing than ski-dooing with no incidents and no-one getting stuck. All arrived to the back-country chalet with-out incident. One exception actually…a brand new floater coat got sucked into the suspension and torn to shreds. In hindsight we all had a good laughat that. The temp at the chalet was nearly 20 degrees and sunny…a beautiful day and it was hard to leave. We had lots of water skipping up to the higher country again with one ski doo getting stuck which only took a few minutes to get out. There is till lots of snow on the back-country roads, over 2 feet for much of it. I was in for a ride this morning. With these higher temps though, it won’t last long. Now its a waiting game until enough snow is melted off the tracks to get to the Gaff Topsails where I hope to get another couple weeks. Other than that, my cousin and I are heading to the West coast for some playing soon. As you all know I am very grateful for all the snowmobilers who rode and toured with us this year and I thank you all. I make so many freinds with this business..how lucky am I at all? Now the only thing I have to do is prevent that pit that is proposed for just upstream of us. Please visit savetheexploitsriver.ca for more details. See you all next year and even this summer for most of you.