Across The Pond
Across the pond here in Cape Breton our 2016-2017 snowmobile season kicked off to a non-typical early start. In early December we received a larger than usual dumping of sweet frozen vapour, courtesy of Mother Nature. It wasn’t long before the hardcore sledders from across Nova Scotia had their gear packed, sled decks loaded and trailers in tow. They were all headed for The Cape Breton Highlands. With it’s consistent snow accumulation, numerous access points, groomed trails and solid backcountry riding The Cape Breton Highlands has something to offer all snowmobile riders. If putting on some decent miles is your thing there is a maintained mapped trail system that connects from North River through several communities such as Baddeck, Margaree, Cheticamp and to Port Hawkesbury. Gas and restaurants are easily located along the mapped trails. If you find yourself wanting to chase the dragon and satisfy that back country addiction there are lots of untouched areas. Most of these are roads that were cut and graded many years ago to give the local pulp mill access, so there are not many hazards to tear your front end on. Keep in mind one must ride with some care early in the season as there can be some rather large rocks that could upset your new ride. Trails are somewhat marked but it never hurts to consult with a few local guys about popular drifting and large snow accumulation areas in the Highlands. The drifts and snow accumulation are weather dependent. Certain winds bring drifts that can range from 15-20 feet in height. The weather up there can change in an instant and one should not take any given forecast for the area as gospel. Cell Service is very minimal, so travelling with a GPS or a Spot Messenger isn’t a bad idea.
[sc name=”HorizQuoteBorders” param1=”Should you be visiting and find your machine broken and in a jam, Mackenzie Motorsports on the Cabot Trail in Middle River is centrally located to Highlands and Keppoch.” ]
Just west of the Highlands is the Keppoch Mountain area. Access to this area is typically through Middle River or Whycocomagh. The Keppoch Highlands sees about a quarter of the snow machine use that the Highlands typically get, and has a little less elevation. Don’t let less elevation fool you. I remember a time not that long ago when we had an old style snow machine with us. The fresh fallen champagne powder had the driver worried that Mother Nature was going to drown his machine and we would have to retrieve her in the spring. The trails on this side are groomed trails with some nice ungroomed side roads to carve down. There are a few unmapped cabins for stopping at. Most are owned by local groups and are open to everyone. If you search long enough you may find one with a wood stove roaring.
Should you be visiting and find your machine broken and in a jam, Mackenzie Motorsports on the Cabot Trail in Middle River is centrally located to Highlands and Keppoch. In an age where manufacturers prefer big dealerships that are pushing out small operations, Mackenzie Motorsports has endured. They are open all year and if you know the right person you can get in contact with them after hours, because as we all know, nothing ever breaks on Monday morning at 10:00 a.m. Jimmy and his mechanics are all powersport enthusiasts engaged in owning and riding the toys they work on.
When we get a large amount of snow Jimmy and his work crew can usually be found on the Keppoch side cruising the drifts and slaying the pow. Over the years I have relied on the guys at Mackenzie Motorsports to fix and even rescue a lost snow machine (On Valentine’s Day). Should the guys at Mackenzie Motorsports do you a solid and get you up and running, they appreciate a little bonus of ice cold vitamin O.
When early snow flies here in Cape Breton our powder addiction begins. We start chasing the dragon, looking for that one last carve to lean into or drift to slay. Some years a few of us have ended up in snowmobile rehab due to lack of snow. Other years snow has been overabundant resulting in some of us pawning our household items to keep gas in the sled. Either way I am extremely fortunate to be able to feed my powder addiction within 1 hour from home in Nova Scotia’s premier snowmobile destination.
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