Late-season riding where winter feels like home
Being from Southern Ontario, it’s a bit of a trek to head up north. The gas, the time off work, the packing… Trust me, I get it. But the thing is, it’s worth the drive! My adventure started when a friend invited me to head up to Northern Ontario to work on a promotional snowmobile video. I didn’t even hesitate; who would pass up an opportunity like this?! Being invited up North is considered a privilege for us Southern Ontarians – so I packed my gear, jumped in the truck, and headed to Orillia to hook up with my friend Shelby. The best part was leaving town as they issued a severe rainfall warning – good bye Niagara!
That night, I couldn’t sleep because I was too excited to continue my adventure. I felt like a kid on Christmas day! I woke up early, and headed even farther north; relying only on GPS coordinates to find our meeting place. I may have gotten lost a few times on some of the back roads in South River, Ontario, but I didn’t mind! As a drove past the headquarters for ChocPaw Expeditions (Dogsled Tours) I knew I was headed in the right direction.
Pulling up to a group of people, trucks, sleds, and camera equipment was exhilarating – not only was I going to meet some awesome new friends, but I was going to get my adrenaline fix on a new sled of my choice!
After a few warm smiles, handshakes and camaraderie, I was directed to get my FXR Racing and Divas Snow Gear on – I accepted this as a challenge – my gear was on in 15 seconds flat! My next thought was, which one of these sleds do I get to ride? My fingers were just itching to push the throttle on one of the BRP and Yamaha sleds that were lined up in front of me. I immediately had my eye on the Ski-doo MXZ XRS 800 – that sled was calling out to me! I’m pretty sure I dreamed about it the night before.
My best memory from this trip was heading out for a last minute shoot on Lake Bernard in Sundridge. That feeling of racing across a frozen lake on a snowmobile is a feeling I will never forget – and one that I’m sure many of you are familiar with – that sense of freedom, adrenaline, and sheer happiness. It was in that moment that I forgot all about work, stress and personal obligations. Nothing mattered at that point in time. We took in the colourful sunset, stunning view and quietness before ending the night with a delicious steak dinner at Cedar Gables Lodge in Bonfield.
Shelby and I were pretty excited to get the next day of snowmobiling started! I hopped on an Arctic Cat XF 7000 Cross Tour and drove right from Cedar Gables Lodge onto a main OFSC trail. Our guide, Jeff McGirr, from Mattawa-Bonfield Economic Development, took us to a rustic cottage located off the main trail to continue filming our video. I was hoping to see a For Sale sign, because at that point, I had convinced myself that I was ready to move to Northeastern Ontario!
We continued to a stretch of OFSC trail in Bonfield to get the next shot. I was directed to drive the sled fast around a corner and down a straightaway. My eyes lit up – “you want me to drive fast?!” My whole body tingled with excitement as I fired up the snowmobile and revved the engine. The huge grin on my face measured the adrenaline coursing through my body. We did this a few times until the camera crew got their shot – but I wasn’t done, I was just getting started!
We jumped on the sleds again, and rode through some more Ontario Snow Trails – and I thought to myself – “I get it” – I get why these are the some of the best snowmobile trails in the world. Nothing can match the beauty of the sparkling snow, the winding landscape, the trees, and that fresh, clean smell. You know, that smell that they try to capture in a bottle of laundry detergent? It doesn’t even compare to being there in the flesh. I looked around, nodded to myself, and thought, now this is Backwoods Ontario. And in true Backwoods Girl style, I was here, on a sled, and in my glory.
Eventually, my adventure came to an end. I snapped as many pictures as I could before leaving to help me remember my adventure. I said my goodbyes and promised to return as soon as possible. On the way home, I drove through freezing rain; a grim reminder of my return to Southern Ontario. As beautiful as Niagara can be, I couldn’t help but yearn to return to the beauty of the North. There’s something refreshing about being in Northern Ontario – you can’t beat the quiet nature, beautiful landscape, trails, and amazing hospitality. I find myself looking at the pictures from this trip, reliving the experience, and looking at my vacation schedule to see when I can return. The thing is, it’s not just a trip; it’s an experience, an adventure, and it’s definitely worth the drive.