PEI POW! – Part 1
By Donnie O’Keefe
Yes…you did read that right – POW IN PEI. For the few of you that don’t know what POW means……it’s short for “POWDER”, lots and lots of fluffy snow . Back in the summer of 2013 I was contacted by Mr. Dale Hickox, president of the PEI snowmobile association (PEISA) wondering if I would be interested in attending their 2014 “Celebration Ride”? PEISA would be one of the 1st groups in the province to begin what would be a year-long celebration of PEI’s 150th anniversary of the 1864 Charlottetown Conference. Without any hesitation I said yes. Representing Sledworthy magazine, I could not wait for the week to come. A 3-day tour of the province of PEI….on Snowmobile .
After months of anticipation, the week had finally arrived. Watching the forecast everyday became common practice as I hoped that this province known for its “Summer Vacations” would be blessed with this wonderful white gold that we snowmobilers love so much. A day of travel under bright sunny skies led me onto this amazing island. The last time I visited this place of beauty would have been in June of 2009 representing the NL Snowmobile Federation as part of the International Snowmobile Congress. There certainly wasn’t any snow back then and as I drove onto the island, there wasn’t a lot to be seen now, but, there was certainly enough to ride and the smile on my face grew bigger. As I arrived at my destination (www.brackleybeachnorthwinds.com ) I was surrounded by many trucks and trailers from all over the country and beyond, including the United States. This was shaping up to be a time to remember and an event I was glad to be taking part in. Later that night we all came together for a short welcome, with mussels and finger foods galore. I met and seen many a familiar face, but the topic on everyone’s mind was would there be enough snow to ride?
As I awoke the next morning I could not believe my eyes…the question after looking out my window was not “Will there be enough snow, but…..will it stop snowing enough for us to ride”? Overnight we were blessed with a couple of feet of fresh POW and it was continuing to fall. As I got ready and headed out the door, I was almost waist deep in snow, what a smile on my face! Down to the meeting hall for breakfast and the introduction of the event with some special guests in attendance. To my delight and those attending, the Premier of PEI (Robert Ghiz) was to ride with us on this 1st day. It had been over 18 years since his last ride on a snowmobile, but he was ready and excited like the whole group to get out and experience what it is we love to do…..RIDE! Words of well-wishing and thanks were passed around and we were now ready to get geared up to experience this POW in PEI. The snow continued to fall as we headed back to our rooms to get ready for the day ahead of us. Snow…was what we wanted and needed to see and certainly what we got. (Picture: L2R – Premier Ghiz and Dale).
As we broke off into groups, 100 plus sleds headed out around farmers fields, through trees adjoining one field with another. Venture of the recently groomed trail and one was sure to get stuck. And yes, we did have a couple of people do just that. We continued onward until we hit the “Confederation Trail”. The snow had subsided a little but the fresh POW had me smiling like no body’s business. Heading east the trails were fantastic with plenty of snow and great scenery all around. I was more than impressed with the endless trail and the untouched fields of snow. Keeping in mind that none of this would be possible without the hard work of the local clubs and their relationship with the private land owners of the area. Yes, private land. Unlike my home province where the majority of the land we ride is crown land and we pretty much point our skis and go, this beauty is only possible with the consent of the land owners! I commend the clubs and the PEISA for their hard work and dedication to make this even possible.
An hour into our journey we were re-routed to a local fishing village where once there, we were able to take part in a local tradition of “trap building”. Hands on we were able to speak with and take part in this wonderful way of life. Back on the trail we continued east where awaiting us was a meal of champions. Full bellies once again, we headed west back to our original point of departure. Gas along the way was not an issue with many places to stop and check our sleds and refuel. It had been a glorious 1st day on the trails of PEI. Known for its endless beaches of sand, this was a day to never forget. That night everyone was chatting about the amazing day on the trails of PEI. Snow, yes snow was the topic not sand. This was a passionate bunch who had come together to celebrate with the people of PEI and the snowmobilers of this island like no other. Hospitality was 1st class, much conversation, and nothing but smiles. I…no, make that everyone, could not wait for day 2….and 3. Dreams this night would consist of the wonderful trails and the amazing POW in PEI. Stay tuned for part 2 of Donnie’s adventure in PEI in the January 2015 edition of Sledworthy Magazine.
Note: This article was initially published in the Nov 2014 Edition of Sledworthy Magazine and is now archived at Sledworthy.com for your review.
Photo Credits: Donnie O’keefe