It’s Back Jack – and Better than Ever!
The Jackladder on the Viking Trail.
Last winter I was lucky enough to be a part of a trip that introduced two friends from Scotland to snowmobiling on the west coast of Newfoundland. These two lads had ridden a snowmobile once the previous year in Eastern Newfoundland. They took advantage of business travel and tried it out and were hooked like the rest of us. Anxious to ride again, they wanted bigger sleds and deeper snow. Cameron and Bruce of Scotland could not wait to come back.
We began planning the “Scott’s Trip” with my buddy Chris doing most of the work. The intention was for the usual five day trip (two travel days & three ride days), but we were wrestling options for accommodations. Chris suggested the Jackladder as our base and I was surprised because I didn’t know the Jackladder had accommodations. I know the Jackladder as a popular rest stop for everything that moves in the area, from snowmobiles to ATVs and anything traveling the Viking trail up the Northern Peninsula. I knew they have a gas bar, shop, restaurant and it’s right on the trail system. I heard many stories about back in its “hay days” as a booming place but I hadn’t heard much lately. I come to find that in recent years it was under new ownership and a big drive to make the Jackladder better than ever and a complete package for the snowmobiling community.
We talked to the Manager, Norma Jean and she said we needed to come and check out the cabins at the Jackladder and experience what they have to offer. The group unanimously selected the Beaver’s Lodge at the Jackladder as our base. Our plan was 6 guys at the Jackladder in the 2nd week of March, with two 600 renegade backcountry sleds for Cameron and Bruce, our visiting Scott’s. They were ecstatic as the trip drew closer and we all looked forward to checking out a new and promising base of operations.
The Jackladder offers two cabins which are a stone’s throw from their parking lot. There is also an apartment attached to the Jackladder. Our cabin was the closer of the two and was only a five minute walk or 30 second sled ride from the main building. We had plenty of parking spaces in the private driveway for our trucks and trailers. The cabin was like a home, with lots of space, a full kitchen, washer/dryer combo and propane stove in the style of a wood stove. The weather did not exactly cooperate, hammering us with rain followed by freezing temperatures. We started our mornings riding on hard crust in search of a sheltered tree zone. The crust would soften, but only because of the warmer air and rain that began to fall. We came home each day soaking wet, but it was the end of each day, running on fumes because even when a ride isn’t very good… It’s still too good to stop. Thanks to the propane stove and the washer/dryer combo we had everything we needed to ensure all our gear was dried for the next morning.
We made lots of food in the kitchen from sandwiches to slow cooked BBQ moose nachos, but we couldn’t resist the smell of the Jackladder restaurant. We walked over for a pint at the bar each night and the smells from the kitchen were intoxicating so we planned to have a supper or two there. The menu has many tempting options and we tried a lot of the starters (we needed something to wash down) in the “whole kit and caboodle” which had a little bit of everything. I was fortunate enough to take in the Jackladder moose burger (I had two) and I can’t wait to go back for another. The group enjoyed everything from soups, sandwiches, chicken, fish, etc and the reviews were all belt loosening.
We were fortunate enough to take in a quiet night at the bar where we talked with the enjoyable staff and regulars, played darts, and played the guitar they have sitting there. We also saw the Jackladder fill up as it often does when they have karaoke, or live entertainment. It was a lot of fun really and opened up the Newfoundland way being to our Scottish friends, who were amazed with “how friendly and accommodating everyone is” and couldn’t believe that we can walk in a bar, pick up a guitar, sit in a circle with strangers and pass it around.
We started our days gassing up at the Jackladder and connecting to the trails from the cabin or behind the main building. The weather didn’t cooperate for us to avail of the guided tours to the Gorge or Sink Hole offered by the Jackladder, but we were situated in a great location to find some hillsides and tree lines so our guests could practice new skills. The boys did some jumps and hill climbs, and tried their hands at side hills, downhill turns and controlled descents. They did well as beginners but these are skills that need seat time so they are coming back for the refresher this year. Our friends were very impressed and remarked that “the vastness of the space is amazing and if anything that just gets more apparent the further west you go. The terrain is absolutely spectacular.”
I thoroughly enjoyed this trip, and introducing our friends to something we love so much was an experience in itself. We had a lot of fun and I was lucky enough to share this experience with my brothers (Wes and Adam), Chris (something of a concierge on this one), Bruce and Cameron (see group photo). I am really looking forward to my next stay at the Jackladder and after talking with the owner Jeff, it seems as though it is only getting better.