Cold and Muddy in Ontario's Highlands

The Missing Link ATV Geocache Poker Run

The first Saturday in May was upon us quickly, so it was time for our yearly pilgrimage to the Morning Mist Resort for the Missing Link Snowmobile Club’s annual Geocache ATV Poker Run. Things always move a little bit slower in Stonecliffe, but pring was off to particularly slow start in Ontario this year! 

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There are so many trails to enjoy in the vast crown land near
Stonecliffe, we decided to head out for this trip a day early, so we could get some extra riding in. We headed out Thursday evening after work, and hit the TransCanada highway. No trip down the TransCanada is complete without stopping at the Tree Top Restaurant in Chalk River. Don’t judge a book by its cover, the food at the Tree-Top is second-to-none to a road weary ATVer. The Tree-Top is open 24 hours, and has a huge parking lot to accommodate truck and trailer. The dining room windows offer a clear view of your vehicle, if you’re the kind of guy that likes to keep an eye on your things. As per our yearly tradition, newcomers to the adventure must order the Tree-Top burger as their first meal at this hidden gem. Legendary in its status, the Tree-Top burger is essentially a Big Mac, made with homemade patties; few survive the meal, nor need to eat for the rest of the weekend!

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With the sun fading to twilight, we continued the trek to Stonecliffe, heading off the beaten path to spend the night at my hunt camp.

Early to rise on Friday morning, we set off to explore all of the trails at our disposal. Eager to get some kilometres on our ATVs, I took our group to a few of the highlights to be found on the outskirts of Algonquin Park.   

We travelled to Dingley Lake to take in one of the older cabins in the area, known to us as the “little people camp” for the very short entrance to the abode. It is always remarkable to take note of the old suburban found miles into the bush, accessible by ATV only, and to think that at one point in time, someone drove that beauty there and it never departed! One of the downfalls of partaking in unmaintained trails is that sometimes you have to do some maintenance. A few fallen trees blocked our way, but we had come prepared for the situation.

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The afternoon ride included many trails, several waterfalls and rapids, and a few dead-ends.  

While the hunt camp accommodations are nice, we don’t like to pass up the opportunity to enjoy the Morning Mist Resort. Whether you’re looking for somewhere to bring your camper trailer or looking to rent a cabin or trailer, the Morning Mist is the spot for you. The cabins are spacious and well furnished. The beds are particularly comfortable to rest your trail-weary bones after a long day of ATVing!

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Saturday morning it was time for our favourite spring ride, the Missing Link Geocache Poker Run. The Missing Link Snowmobile club brings out all the stops, with coffee and treats to prepare yourself for the day, and a table full of prizes so everyone can boast about what item he or she plans to win! Registration begins beneath the pavilion, where we grab our map and GPS co-ordinates. 

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registration 2 in line

registration 4 geocaching

With coffee and GPS in hand, participants set about inputting coordinates for the first cache before setting out on the adventure. The weather was a bit on the drab side this year, but 100 determined participants braved the cold and dampness.

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ride 4 getting ready

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Every year is a new route, so it's always an adventure to see where the hidden caches are going to lead us.

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Spring was late to spring in Stonecliffe, so there was an ample supply of water and mud on the trails for those that love to get dirty!

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There was still ice and snow in abundance out there. We didn’t hesitate to try our luck at making snow-angels, and to clean some of the mud off ourselves in the snow!

The barbeque suffered an accident enroute to the lunch stop, so for a surprising treat this year, the trail-side lunch would be a "cook your own dog over the campfire" affair! There was something for everyone out there this year, with options for mud trails and dryer routes. The 100-km route kept everyone on their toes, and the day ended with a potluck dinner fit for kings.

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Year after year, members of the Nation Valley ATV Club attend this ride, and we have only just begun to explore the tip of the iceberg in regards to the trails that are there to explore.  Before the weekend was complete, we put 260 km on our ATVs, and we’re thinking next year we may have to go two days early! 



About Dave Baker

An avid outdoors enthusiast, Dave is active in hunting, fishing, trapping and ATVing. He has been involved with the Nation Valley ATV Club since its inception, and is a past president of the Ontario Federations of ATV Clubs.

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