Ontario Snowmobiling Safari – Part 1

I still remember my first time snowmobiling on real Ontario snowmobile trails operated by the OFSC. It was one of those remarkably crisp, clear winter days in cottage country that takes your breath away because snowmobile conditions are perfect. I wasn't exactly a novice, or so I thought. Occasionally, I'd putter along my road on the old Ski-Doo that came with the cottage. But my snowmobiling was mostly brief trips to a neighbour's, short hops for Sunday brunch or goat path traverses to the dump. Also, exercising dogs, playing with kids, and snowbound escape from the cottage. As a utility machine, it wasn't higher on my cottage hierarchy than the lawn mower. Little did I know…

Checking the Ice

Saturdays, neighbours Brian and Barb embarked on snow safaris with family and friends. I'd hear shouts and laughter, then a roar of engines as they departed, not to return until dusk. That morning, curiosity about groomed trails finally prompted me to accept their repeated invitations to ride along. Besides, who wants to be a couch potato all winter? Ignorant of what to expect, I didn't relish the imminent prospect of crossing our Kawartha lake to get to the OFSC trails.

Before departing, Brian bored two test holes and checked ice conditions with ice fishermen. Confirming black ice over 10" thick, he led us along the lake to a corridor of bright orange stakes. Brian said this crossing was marked by the local club. But never to trust ice, so don't stop on the lake. Stay to the right of the stake line and cross quickly, he instructed. I was reassured by signs of heavy traffic. Either this was a main snowmobiling thoroughfare or an elephant herd had stampeded it into hard pack. Although I'd travelled the lake often by boat, Old Man Winter had transformed familiar sights into an ethereal landscape of stark contrasts, snow-laden boughs and windswept drifts. The stakes led to a break in the shoreline reminiscent of a rabbit's bolthole into the undergrowth. I tingled with anticipation on passing through that portal, trail riding off my sheltered lake for the first time into the great unknown. This trail thrust into the backcountry, inaccessible except in winter because of impassable swamps, rock formations and disconnected waterways. Boy, was this ever going to be fun!

For more about my first Ontario Snowmobiling Safari experience, check out Part 2.

Snowmobiling Tourism Contacts:

Contributing partners for this Ontario snowmobiling site about great Ontario snowmobile trails and snowmobile conditions include: Intrepid Snowmobiler, Murphy Insurance, Ontario Federation of Snowmobile Clubs, Ontario Tourism, Snow Goer Media, Supertrax Media.

About Craig Nicholson—The Intrepid Snowmobiler

Popularly known as The Intrepid Snowmobiler, Craig Nicholson is an International Snowmobile Hall of Fame journalist who specializes in recreational snowmobiling activities. Craig has snowmobiled in every region of Canada and many states. His one-of-a-kind tour book, “Canada’s Best Snowmobiling – The Ultimate Ride Guide”, chronicles his adventures, as does his website and Facebook page.

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