By Jason Silver
As the leaves start to turn and fall, and the air turns cold, the anticipation for winter 2017/18 begins to build. Facebook profiles are updated with wintery profile pics and plans begin to be made. Each fall brings a long list of places to go and things to do this winter. In fact, the list is usually so long, there is no way all items will be checked off. So this year I decided that while I would continue to build my endless list in my head, I’d actually commit three key items to accomplish this year to paper. And who knows, perhaps by writing them down in such a public way, I may actually force myself into accomplishing at least the three items I am listing below. So here it is…my 2018 Destination wish list.
Sabena Airlines 1946 Crash Site – South of Gander Lake, NL – Actually, this destination was featured in an article I wrote back in January of 2016. On September 18, 1946 a DC-4 operated by Sabena Airlines out of Belgium crashed just south of Gander Lake, between Dead Wolf Pond and Caribou Lake. The crash resulted in the death of 18 of 44 people on board, who were buried in a makeshift cemetery on site. But what was most interesting was the story of survival and rescue in the days that followed. The operation was coordinated by the United States military using helicopters for the very first time in a rescue.
The wreckage remains at the site to this day, and the cemetery and memorial is still maintained by locals. For anyone interested in more details of the story, it is the subject of a book written by Frank F. Tibbo entitled “Charlie Baker George.” This is one of the destinations that I have yet to cross off my list. So this winter, I plan to change that. As it is only half way across this beautiful province of Newfoundland, it is a destination that I should be able to do in a short weekend, by leaving Paradise on Friday evening and returning Sunday. The trip to Sabena, of course, would be made on Saturday. I plan to enlist the guiding services of Mr. Chris Tuck, one of my numerous “winter friends” who unfortunately I don’t cross paths with in the off season. Given this is more of a destination trip than an adventure trip, I will also likely take my son Michael. This trip is likely best done in mid winter (February) to ensure all brooks and ponds are good and frozen (fingers crossed we have an old fashioned winter – at least from central to West that is).
Great Harbour Deep, NL – Great Harbour Deep is an abandoned (resettled) logging and fishing Community located on the Eastern side of the Great Northern Peninsula. The Community’s origins date back to the 1600’s, as it first appeared on Samuel de Champlain’s map of 1612 as Baye dorge. The ferry connecting the community to nearby Jackson’s Arm was discontinued following resettlement in 2002, when the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador spent $3.8 million to resettle residents as it was no longer sustainable to keep the community going. Today, the location is really only accessible by boat in Summer/off season and by snowmobile during the winter/spring months. There is something about a combination of the history of the community and its remote location that makes it a truly intriguing location for me. While I have been saying that I plan to visit this place every year, I think this is the year I have to make it happen. My plan for this year is to plan a trip to Snowy Cabin, and enlist the guiding services of Mr. Edgar Randell (a former resident of Great Harbour Deep). Ideally, the trip would be in the spring months when the weather is a little more predictable and when snow conditions are more forgiving. With a Friday arrival at Snowy Cabin Adventures, we would fit a quick primer run in on Friday before making the trek to Great Harbour Deep on Saturday. To do this right and truly experience Great Harbour Deep, the plan also involves overnighting in the community before returning to Snowy Cabin on Sunday. This destination is truly a bucket list item for me.
Hodges Hills – West of Grand Falls- Windsor, NL – Considered by enthusiasts as one of the true hidden gems of Newfoundland, Hodges is known for late season riding. While most snowmobile enthusiasts only think of Lewis Hills and Gros Morne for late spring riding, Hodges is often accessible and rideable well into April, depending on snow conditions. What makes this destination so desirable though is not just the scenery and late snow conditions. This destination is all about the trill of riding some of the more technical terrain and tree lines the province has to offer. It is full of steep slopes, rock faces and tangly tree lines. I have to be honest, though – while this is one of those trips I truly want to take to cross off my list, it is also one that truly makes me nervous. While I have been trying to advance my riding skills under the instruction of the great folks at Sledcore, particularly side hilling, this location would truly test my limits I fear. From what I’ve been told, there is not a lot of room for error and the hills and rock faces (and trees) offer little, if any, forgiveness. Perhaps I’ll wait for late season for this trip – just to give myself some more practice time out West.
So there you have it, my three main goals for the upcoming season. I actually have many more plans in my head, but this winter will not be any different than the others I’m sure – life will only allow me to head out on 4 or 5 trips, between work, hockey practices and tournaments, etc. If I can accomplish these goals and tick these destinations off my list, the winter will truly have been a success. Look forward to seeing everyone on the snow.
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