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Published: March 8th 2011
(Contributing Photographer-Michael Weinstein: Many thanks)
The group all arrived in Riviere du Loup Saturday afternoon. The group consists of our tour guide, Gary Pruitt from Connecticut, Bill & Charlie from two towns on Lake Winnipesaukee in New Hampshire, Michael from Brooklyn, NY, and now living on Long Island, John from a town near Ithaca, NY and Rich from Andover, MA. All of us had long trips and everyone trailered their snowmobiles here for the trip. All of the guys are avid, experienced riders.
We all had dinner together and Gary briefed us on the trip and plans for departing in the morning. This is the longest saddlebag trip I will have done on a snowmobile; 6 days of riding. The longest I've done in the past is 3 days on the trail, staying in 3 different towns. On Gary's advice, I'm bringing my laptop and packing enough clothes for 6 days. I was doubtful that the laptop could make the trip with all the bouncing on trails for 1,200 miles and also the cold, but I thought I'd give it a try. This required an additional waterproof bag that I have bungeed on top of my Skidoo tunnel bag.
It's a bit of a Rube Goldberg setup, but I'm writing this on my laptop and we had a lot of bumpy riding yesterday, but it's still in one piece and working.
At about 9:15, in high spirits, we started down the trail to our next stop Matane. Everyone was excited to start the trip. Besides Gary, Rich is the only guy with experience here in the Gaspesie. The riding was good, but a bit difficult because we received close to a foot of new snow in the past 24 hours. The trails hadn't been groomed so the new snow was making the trail difficult to ride. It snowed pretty much all day, not terribly hard, but enough to make seeing exactly where the trail was difficult. The snow off the trail is DEEP. Anywhere from 3-5 feet. That's what made going off the trail by accident tough.
During the course of the day, we had 7 stuck sled occasions. Everyone pitched in and got the sleds back out and on the trail, but that consumes a good bit of time. John is an excellent off-trail powder rider so he became the designated ride it out of the
deep snow driver. He did a great job. With the new snow and not a lot of sled traffic, it was difficult to see where some trail intersections were. We missed a turn off, side trail that would have taken us to the corridor trail, Trail 5, and that ended up in about a 3 hour detour that ended up adding about 40 miles to the planned ride.
About half way here, we stopped for lunch at relais. A relais in Quebec is a restaurant operated by the local snowmobile club. It's right on the trail and offers a great place to eat and take a break.
All of this added up to a long day riding and a late arrival in Matane. We got in about 10:30. Most of us (I'll exclude John in this), were exhausted and hungry. It's a lot of hard work to dig sleds out of 4 feet of powder to add to the workout of a 240 mile sled ride. It sure was nice to see the Riotel Hotel sign and know that we finally made it.
This is beautiful country. The snowfall obscured the views a bit, but you could
tell that it was very scenic. We're hoping that we will get a better taste of the famed Quebec well groomed trails. You'd like to pick your times to go off trail and play rather than getting stuck unexpectedly. There are a lot of places to climb hills and play in the powder here. It's awfully big country.
After we checked in and ate some delivery pizza for dinner because the kitchen was closed, we rode to our rooms and unpacked the sleds. The wind was blowing much stronger now and it was starting to snow more.......
Tot: 2.47s; Tpl: 0.062s; cc: 13; qc: 33; dbt: 0.0303s; 2; m:saturn w:www (188.8.131.52); sld: 1;
; mem: 1.3mb