#TBT – Powder Paradise – Deep Days Behind Deer Lake
February 27th, 2014 marked an exciting day for one young gentleman from the south coast of Newfoundland. After purchasing a new Summit Freeride 137, Justin Benoit was very eager to test not only the potential of his sled, but also his own limits as well. I would also be testing my new snowmobile; a Polaris Pro RMK 155. After owning Bombardiers and Yamahas, I was anxious to see what this machine was capable of, and if I had made the right decision of switching brands. As we loaded our new sleds aboard our trucks, I could see that he was very anxious to get going, and to be honest, so was I.
We stopped into Grand Falls – Windsor and picked up our NLSF trail passes. We knew we would be accessing the groomed trails and have always supported the snowmobile clubs. We arrived in Cormack and were welcomed by the owner/operator of Rocky Brook Cabins – Roseanne White. I’ve stayed there several times before and each time her wonderful hospitality has always made our stay pleasant and comfortable. The comforts of home and the quick access to the groomed trails and hills made this area one of the best parts of Newfoundland to ride. Shortly after, the rest of our riding crew arrived from the east coast. High fives, fist bumps, and handshakes met with ear-to-ear grins told us this weekend was going to be one big powder-shredding weekend.
The next morning couldn’t come fast enough. After a good night’s sleep, everyone woke to the smell of fresh coffee brewing and bacon/eggs frying in the pan. After a nice big breakfast we got everything ready; lunches were made, extra gloves, goggles and balaclavas were packed, the sleds were topped up with fuel and oil, and of course the most important thing – the cameras were stored within quick easy reach! We trucked our sleds a couple miles down the road and unloaded at the drop zone. As we made our way into the hills, the groomed trails were smooth as could be. They had been groomed a couple days prior and were still perfectly flat. The further we got into higher elevation, the more powder we encountered. Once we passed the warm up shelter, the back country became our playground. We were the first ones out that morning so everything was untouched. Every hill became a challenge or a bet; one guy trying to outdo the other guy before they got stuck. And if you did get stuck, well that just kept things interesting. There was so much fresh snow that it created endless terrains of spacious tree lines and cornices that only mountain sleds could access. If you slacked off on the throttle for a second, it meant you and your buddies were in for some digging, tugging, and rolling of the sleds. We always helped each other whenever we got stuck, but we always made sure to get a snapshot first!
As the day went on, we got more comfortable with our new machines. It’s always a good idea to learn a couple riding techniques before adventuring out into the back country. You never know what you’ll encounter when exploring new areas. One way to do this is to talk to the guys at Sledcore, they periodically hold Ride Clinics which help novice and intermediate riders increase their skill level; giving people the added confidence they need to ride better, safer, and smoother than before. Of all my trips to the west coast, this had to be the most snow I had ever ridden in. It didn’t matter how many times we got stuck, turned over, fell off, or for some of us – cracked off a dry juniper that happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time (sorry Justin). The entire landscape was forgiving and allowed us to push ourselves to our riding limits. Once we had completely covered one area in tracks, we moved on to another, and then another, and another!
Overnight it snowed heavily, bringing well over 30 cm of fresh snow. The next morning, it was a beautiful sunny day, but the winds were high and it was bitter cold. We dressed warm and headed out. Since it was such great riding in White River Rd the day before, we headed back in there again. This time, we decided to leave from the cabin on our snowmobiles and take the groomed trail. Once we got there, we could see that all of our tracks from yesterday’s riding were gone. The heavy snowfall and high winds overnight wiped the hills and trails clean and it was like we were never there. The smiles on our faces were nearly visible through our balaclavas and helmets.
We left our mark on the hillsides for a second day and our riding skills were better than before we came. Justin loved his new Freeride and I was really taking a liking to my new Pro RMK. As we headed back to the cabin that evening, the temperature had dropped even more. A lot of our gear was frozen; our helmets, balaclavas, goggles, and even gloves were coated in ice and hard as a rock. A quick stop into the warm up shelter allowed us to thaw out for a few minutes before continuing on. Justin huddled by the woodstove to try and warm up while I practiced a couple dance moves to get the blood flowing. Once we were warmed up, we headed back onto the trail and made our way back to our cabins. It’s certainly convenient having the groomed trails right in the backyard of your accommodations.
Another great trip was coming to an end. As we sat around the table the last night there feasting like kings and laughing over who got stuck the most and who busted the biggest drifts, we knew that these are the moments in our lives that we won’t soon forget. We each left at the end of the weekend with fond memories, new friends, plenty of stories to tell our families, and hundreds of great photos and videos to share. I’ve always found that the west coast has some of the best snowmobiling spots you will ever find anywhere, and now I’m sure Justin feels the same way. This was his first time riding in this part of the island, but something tells me it won’t be his last.