Well Worth the Drive
Winter 2015 has been rough on the spirits of passionate snowmobilers from the east coast of the province. Despite the fact that annual accumulated snow fall is above average, so too has been the nemesis of the winter enthusiast. It seems that as soon as any snow accumulated on the east coast this year, it was quickly washed away by torrential rain fall.
Our first trip of 2015 would see our fine cast of characters travel west to one of the provinces best kept secrets. Our home for the adventure would be the Codroy Valley. The “Valley” as it is affectionately called by the locals, is a collection of 15 communities tucked away on the southwest corner of the province. It is located in a sub-range of the Long Range Mountains called the “Anguille Mountains”. The locals reference the range based on direction of travel. Travelling south will carry you into the “Southern Country” and conversely, a northerly direction will take you to the “Northern Country”.
Four members of our core group of sledders are from the Valley. Uncle Lar, Rick, Stuart and our infamous guide Scottie were charged with creating a memorable an itinerary for the eastern contingent. In preparation of the trip, team west brought in reinforcements. Both Ryan and Steve were the voice of reason to an otherwise challenged western contingent with an honourable mention to Stuart. His knowledge of the area was quite useful when others floundered.
The Valley does not get the same volume of snowmobile traffic as some of the more common areas in the province such as Gros Morne or the Hampden area but, it affords a tremendous variety of options including woods roads, vertical climbs, mountain top travel and specular river valley runs. The locals are quite happy with the current level of snowmobile activity and want to keep it that way. There was much debate at the camp one evening regarding me even writing about our trip. The home team of westerners feared that the attention drawn by the article could bring hordes of “foreigners” from the east and spoil the pristine nature of the “Valley”. After much convincing, they gave me the green light. So here we are.
The first day of travel across the province had us land in Humber Valley where we would put-up at Johnny’s chalet nestled away on the hills of the resort. Their west coast get away at “Dinosaur Rock” would be our home for the night. A night of fun and frolic was had by all. When we awoke in the morning, we got a true measure of the amount of snow in the area. The locals noted that accumulations are the most in recent years. One gentlemen who keeps farm animals, stated that the snow this year was that high that his chickens were picking the putty out of the second floor windows in his farm house.
By 9 AM all hands were on deck and we headed out for the final leg of travel to the “Valley”. We would be staying at Martin’s Cabins in Upper Ferry on the Grand Codroy River. We arrived around 12 PM and it didn’t take long to unload and in jig time we were we on the snow.
The weather was not the best but it did not dampen our spirits. We headed off into the Northern Country. High winds and visibility forced us off the high country. Wind is no stranger to this area. The area known as “Wreckhouse” is located here. This name originated because high winds – often well in excess of hurricane force – would occasionally blow railway cars completely off the track. The word “Wreckhouse” was added to the Canadian Oxford Dictionary in 2004. Although the railway was closed in 1988, the winds are still a hazard to vehicles on Highway 1 and transport trucks occasionally get blown off the road. Evidence of the potential of these high winds was quite evident when we discovered a cabin located on the side of a pond tethered to the ground buy two guy wires in a similar fashion to that utilized to secure utility poles. Never thought I would see the day when a cabin would be tied to the ground. Wow. I guess there are not many flies here during the summer.
We stuck to the valleys and woods roads and discovered numerous opportunities for boon docking. A fresh layer of powder covered the ground and we had to brake a trail all day. What a blast. We spent the evening at Scotties garage enjoy the comedy show put off by our host. A great evening was had by all.
The next day offered up a similar weather pattern as the day before. Once again we found ourselves in the Northern Country exploring the many retired woods roads and discovered numerous snow packed gulches that offered up great opportunity for fun and frolic. As the daylight was coming to a close we visited a cabin owned by Uncle Lar, Rick and Stuart tucked away in the foothills of the Long Range Mountains. It didn’t take long for the wood stove to put cozy into the place. As the tunes played we enjoyed a great meal of salt fish offerings from Johnny and Dean’s pork fast fries served with fried onions. What a time.
Day three and we are back in the Northern Country. Once again the weather was not the greatest. The high winds persisted and visibility was poor. Stuart was in charge of the day’s activities and he did not disappoint. We headed northwest to the cliffs overlooking the Atlantic Ocean. Along the way he shared his knowledge of the area with us and the more junior western guides including Uncle Lar and Rick. They were both thrilled with the adventure and learned much from our well-informed guide. The roads, trails and paths were full of powder. We encountered numerous moose throughout the day and found plenty of opportunity for hill climbs and powder drops.
Prior to embarking on the day’s activities we were given strict instructions to be home by 7 PM. Scottie promised to have a turkey dinner waiting for us in his garage. Thanks to the combined efforts of his team of sous chefs including Doug and Kent Vey, we enjoyed a fantastic dinner. Doug’s wife Laura prepared two “Blueberry Grunts” and she did not disappoint. Bellies full and heads swollen it was off to bed in preparation for our final day on the snow.
The forecast once again would present challenges. High winds and snowfall accumulations was the order for the day. We would not get to the hills in the southern country on this trip. We did not move until midday. Our plan was to go as far as the weather would permit and end the day back to the boy’s cabin again.
Once again plenty of powder was offered by Mother Nature. The riding was fantastic. Not a rock or stump to be found. We found a number of gulches and river valleys that provided shelter from the blowing snow but furthermore offered numerous riding challenges and opportunity for air time. When we arrived back at the boy’s cabin, two of Rick’s kids were there with friends and were ready to head out. But, not before they took to their crazy carpets and showcased the sliding path they had constructed on the hill where the cabin was located. After a number of runs down the hill, we were back in the camp enjoying a feed of moose sausages and Tommy’s fried pork tenderloin with peppers and onions. The music played and our voices carried long into the night.
Its travel day. Back to the city. There is an empty feeling that comes over me every time I find myself in this position of having to leave and travel east when there is tons of snow out west. As I often say snowmobiling is the most fun you can have with your clothes on. The Codroy Valley affords plenty for the winter enthusiast. Mountains, frozen river valleys, snow filled gulches and retired woods roads. If you find yourself travelling to the “Valley” don’t tell the locals you heard it from me.