Memories For the Whole Family—Riding the RAN Tour (Ride Around Nipissing)

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Have you ever felt it? Have you ever seen it? I have! Two whole weeks of waiting, and I knew it was coming. The anticipation was killing me. I got a little taste last year and this year, I wanted more. All I needed was to see the front door of my home open. Being the wife of a snowmobiler in Northern Ontario, you know that when sledding season is here, we don’t get to see much of our spouses. They plan weeks at a time and a year in advance to go out and ride the trails. Can you relate? After two weeks of being gone on trails and staying in lodges with the “guys”, mine was finally coming home. I didn’t know what I was more excited about—seeing him after two weeks or knowing that the next day, we were going to hit the trails as a family.

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Growing up in Northern Ontario, I was always around sleds, mostly as a passenger and never getting to ride the trails myself. So, I was excited to be able to share the experience for the first time with my family. It was early to bed for us to be able to wake up and ride out of our own “backyard”. I woke up the next morning to the warm bright sun shining through the curtains of my bedroom window and the kids running into our room, their little voices filled with excitement. We got up and went downstairs to get in some warm breakfast, and heard on the radio that clear skies were expected, with sunshine and -15°C. With our Choko and FXR gear, we should be perfect!

Getting our sledding gear on, I was getting anxious to pick out and start my sled. I had the choice of two 2014 prototypes provided by BRP, a Ski-Doo Grand-Touring Ace 900 and Ski-Doo MXZ XRS 800, as well as an RS 1L Venture-Touring Yamaha, provided by Yamaha, Canada. After I decided to go with the smaller, single-seated sled, I was informed that although it’s smaller, it was the most powerful of the three. Bring it on!

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We started the engines, the rush began and the engines revved—there’s something about the sound that puts an instant smile on my face. Then we were off. We decided to do the south end of the RAN tour (Ride Around Nipissing Tour). We started off just a few meters from our driveway when we hit the main OFSC trail. It’s an exciting experience to be in control; just me to the grip-warmed handles, to the sled, to the snow. Once we hit the trail, I felt like a kid in a video game, entering into the magical forest. At that moment, that’s when I felt it: the butterflies in my stomach, the hair at the back of my neck and arms standing straight and the goose-pimples tingling all over.

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As my thumb pushes the throttle down and the sled goes faster, the corners of my lips move up and the g-force took over and plastered a permanent smile on my face. We road through the winding, hilly trails with the fresh, crisp, clean white snow with the sun peeking through the branches of the trees. Then it happened. Everything seems to go into slow motion and we stopped. I looked around and realized that some of the most beautiful scenery is right in my very own backyard. Off the trails, the snow is virtually untouched and the sun is sparkling off it like diamonds. Then I got the urge to take the sled through the fresh powder and have the snow fly up in my face, but only for a second.

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We continued on our way for a lunch break at Crow’s Nest in Restoule. Although a little cold, the kids were having so much fun and loving how “fast” we went. Their laughter was so contagious. Owen liked to think he was the one driving and Gabby, much like myself, was enjoying the scenery and watching out for wildlife. We ate a nice, warm lunch and headed back home. On the way, I took the time to watch the kids’ facial expressions—priceless! All the fresh air would have them “sleeping like babies”, or just like the hubby after his two week sledding trip with the boys. There are no words to explain the bonding experience you get, riding through the trails as a family. These are the moments of our lives that the kids will never forget, nor will I.


About Amy Hamilton

Amy is a True Northern Girl and mother of two, with a passion for life experiences and the great outdoors.

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