The Big Loop & Great Memories
By Jamie Osmond
Back several years ago, I helped organized a Sledworthy Magazine tour to the Port Aux Basque region…from a local perspective…the good folks at the Go Western Destination Marketing Association (DMO) did all the real work…we simply wanted to team up with Andrew Goldsworthy (AG) and showcase our local PAB product as a winter ride destination…well, it happened, conditions were less than ideal but AG and crew were impressed with the terrain and the passion of the PAB riding community. However, my work didn’t allow me to enjoy the fruits of my labour…I had to cart myself back to AB to work. Over the years, myself and AG talked about doing a trip together sometime…and that time finally came and I wasn’t missing out…no way!
To say I was expecting the call would be an understatement…I was stoked. However, coming from the PAB area to join AG and a crew in the Deer Lake area, it made sense (and cents) for me to have a travel buddy and this is where young Flipper (Chad LeRiche) entered the picture. We were booked and committed.
Road trip…The normal drive time from PAB to Deer Lake is approximately three hours. And of course, being from PAB, what’s a trip inland without stopping to see DJ Callahan and the CSR team in Stephenville (NL) for a spare set of plugs and jug of oil. We were out the door with a friendly handshake and a promise to send pictures of our trip. If you have yet to visit the CSR crew in their new showroom, you’ll understand why folks from as far as Cape Breton (NS) deal with CSR. The Cape Breton connection will come into play later.
When AG told me, we’ll be based out of the Humber River House, you couldn’t get the smile off my face. I’ve seen pictures of this place, heard about the indoor pool, pool table, TV room and the comfortable beds…I was willing to simply stay at the House, skip the sledding and simply tell folks I had a blast. Humber River House is a great location for the ultimate trip. Excellent location and amenities. The kitchen at the House got well used during our stay…AG and his long-time ride buddy (Tilley) worked wonders in the kitchen…holy snap can the boys cook. AG had joked that he now brings a private chef on sled trips…he wasn’t joking…a chef that sleds too because in his day job, Tilley owns and operates Driven Powersports, a retail store and web presence powersport retailer that leading the way in Atlantic Canada.
So, what’s the Cape Breton connection here? AG had mentioned about two guys from Cape Breton would be joining us…Wallace and Jamie of Cape Breton (NS) make the trip to Newfoundland at least twice each winter. This particular winter, AG who had known the guys indirectly since Sledworthy started back in 2005, had always wanted to ride with the guys and get them deeper into the Cormack and Gros Morne riding zones…the Cape Breton boys didn’t have to be asked twice. Rounding out the rest of the crew was AG’s buddy Tom Caines from Sledcore, Veteran Paul “Salty Dog” Doyle and Mark “Close Call” Shave.
Coming into this trip, I was really excited. Even for a person with years of riding experience, the things I learned was eye-opening and the areas I got to explore was a once in a lifetime opportunity. Looking forward to more trips with the boys! The Cormack and Gros Morne areas provide you with big hills and lots of powder for a “west is the best” experience…I can’t believe I live so close to the Cormack and Gros Morne riding zones and this was my first time riding there.
I brought my buddy ‘Flipper’ with me, and here’s what he had to say-
“In February (2020) of last season I had the pleasure of getting the chance to go on an awesome weekend of riding with Andrew and the Sledworthy guys. Let me tell you there wasn’t a disappointing moment! The first day of the trip my riding buddy and I departed Port Aux Basques to meet the guys at the Humber River House. We arrived at the most amazing chalet I could have imagined. Day two was a day of playing in the trees not far from Cormack where I experienced a totally different style of riding from what I’m familiar with in Port Aux Basques. I learned many things that day from Andrew. It didn’t take long to figure out tree riding was something AG is quite good at. Day three was a day to remember, it was our 200 KM ride which carried us to the Gorge and through Gros Morne national park – The Big Loop! I can honestly say this area is the most beautiful place I’ve had the pleasure to ride my snowmobile in. On our return to the chalet, we were greeted with a turkey dinner and all the fixings, an awesome meal to come home to following a 200 KM ride. Day four we lost our Nova Scotia friends due to bad weather but our weekend still carried on with more exploring around the Cormack area. This weekend getaway with a group of awesome guys was something that I will remember as long as I live. I hope sometime in the future, I get the chance to catch up with this group of guys again.”⁃Chad Leriche
As snowmobile enthusiasts, myself and Chad both agree the Big Loop was the best of the weekend- which took us through Gros Morne and into the Gorge. This is a must see for all riders on the Island. I do caution folks, this is a route that you need to have knowledge of the terrain and conditions can change in the blink of an eye. And of course, as our staging area was Cormack, upon return, we stopped at from Crooked Feeder Brewing company to pick up a few growlers for post riding enjoyment.
We enjoyed some good laughs, trail talk about the area and some good-natured ribbing about who’s machine was superior. Spending the weekend with fellow east coasters who all share the same passion made for a great weekend. Looking forward to visiting more of Newfoundland’s back country terrain, and seeing all this Island has to offer. AG has mentioned about taking me into his fav tree zone, the Hodges Hill Tree Zone…stay tuned.