3rd Time's the Charm—Trail Riding and Family Day Weekend Cookout!

As some of you may already know, I made an attempt earlier this season to get my long time snowcross and motocoss racing boyfriend, Rob Gavel, out for his first trail ride. It rained, we broke a sled, had to build a sleigh out of C&A Pro Skis and rescue the sled a full 24hrs later. Let's just say, I never thought he’d try trail riding again. Lucky for me he agreed to give it one more chance.

C and A Pro Skis sleigh base

I thought I had it all figured out for the Family Day weekend, but Saturday once again did not go as planned. Forced to leave behind my Dad’s sled due to unforeseen mechanical problems, we headed out on the trail riding two-up. Rob and I were lucky enough to have scored a couch for the weekend, a 2007 Yamaha RS Venture. Not only could two people fit comfortably on it, I could sit back and take pictures the entire trip. My poor parents on the other hand got to sit cuddly on my Mom's 2007 GSX Ski-Doo.


Lucky for us, the Ontario Federation of Snowmobile Clubs had a FREE “Try Our Trails” permit that was available for Family Day Weekend. This was my second year taking advantage of this awesome opportunity. Having been a long time trail rider and mostly given it up in favour of doing more snowcross racing has certainly been a difficult decision. So, whenever the chance for trail riding comes up I take it.


Within 5 minutes of being out on Lake Manitouwabing, we saw a group of 8 turkeys and a half-dozen groups of deer wandering the shorelines and running full-tilt across the frozen lake. The sun was shining, the temperature was only -6 and there was no wind to speak of. This was one of those winter days that everyone looks forward to. This was a day for sight-seeing! We took Rob to two of my favourite locations, a top-secret lookout called Old Baldy, and to a miniature ice cave.


We took our sleds for a shorter trip than originally planned and ended up at one of my favourite local restaurants, Whitestone Lake Resort. Once we were filled with some delicious hot food, we headed back on the trail for the trip home.

With the sun still not set, Rob and I decided to take the race sleds out for a boondocking session. With the fields and lakes overflowing with snow, we took advantage of this rare opportunity to work on our carving skills. We also of course managed to find some naturally formed jumps!


My Family Day weekend certainly didn’t end there. Sunday morning we woke up and headed out to an entire day of cookouts! First, we headed the short distance to Walter and Linda Salm’s for some tobogganing, ice fishing and good friends. With our tummy’s full of juicy burgers we hopped on the sleds, ran our Siberian Husky mix, Sambuca, back home and then headed off to our second cookout of the day.


This time, the cookout was a solid 5 kilometres back in the bush. However, this isn’t your run of the mill cookout. Our close family friend Tony Haskim and his daughter’s boyfriend Conrad LeBarre created not only a BBQ sleigh but also an outhouse that sits on a sleigh! Talk about a fantastic way to bond with family!


Cookouts are probably one of my favourite parts of winter. Nothing beats breathing in fresh air, mixed with campfire smoke, of course, the warm sun beating down from above, the snow glistening like diamonds, and delicious food. Cookouts may not get your adrenaline rushing, but the quality time it gives us with friends and family in the great outdoors is just as rewarding.

Permit 2015


Panorama sleds

About Shelby Mahon

Growing up snowmobiling in Northern Ontario has been a defining aspect of Shelby's life. She is now the owner of Backcountry Motorsports Media and travels across North America photographing and documenting motorsports events and tourism destinations. Check out her Facebook, Instagram and website for more info.

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