If I ever wondered why I spent all those years on a dogsled I really knew the answer last Sunday. I took my first long distance trip on a snowmachine. It turned into an endurance test.
Sunday morning dawned bright and clear, beautiful blue sky and -25 c. We packed up our machine, putting in snowshoes, a cookable lunch, extra gas and a few items of emergency gear. Our friends and neighbors the Ofarrel family came with us. We had four machines, our big Scandic that the two of us were doubling on, another Scandic pulling a dogsled that one of their kids, Katie rode, an Arctic bearcat that Dave drove and a small Bravo that their 19 year old son James drove. With great good cheer we drove off down the lake toward the trail to Stryker Pass.
It was a bit cold on the lake with the wind chill of going 20 mph...I pulled my parka hood with nice warm coyote fur around my face. Half way down the lake Dave zoomed by us waving-he had sighted a wolf kill by the side of the frozen lake. We turned around to check it out. The tracks weren't that old, but there wasn't much left that was eatable.
Finally we came to the start of the trail, ohoh, no one had been in there this winter except a couple of snowshoers. That is hardly a broken trail when you have three feet of snow. Dave got out his GPS to inform us that the trail to Lime lake was only 2km away. Sounded fishy but what did we know?
We only got stuck three times on the way in. The valley that the trail follows is beautiful. It winds along a creek with lots of open water, animal sign was everywhere, lynx, wolverine, martin, coyote and wolf tracks. There were several tricky creek crossings, but we all made it up to the lake in good spirits. The longest 2k on earth (try 10k AT LEAST). After a nice fire and a good lunch we deceided to try for Stryker lake. After a fast trip down Lime lake the getting stuck began in ernert. Finally James figured out why he was totally stuck in a deep hole-a part of his machine had sheared off and it was dead.
Luckily we had our big skimmer along, just enough room for a disabled machine with the skis taken off. We got turned around, loaded up the Bravo and off we went out of there. Now the fun really began. Too many tight curves, narrow snow bridges over the creek, trail on sidehill, too many tips, getting off the trail and just plain bogging down. It took hours to get out of there. A couple of times I felt like laying down on the trail and going to sleep. Finally we could see the big lake threw the trees. We were all laughing like mad, it was so crazy. All of us had at least one wet leg. We didn't get back to our place until 8 pm.
I don't care, I'd do it again in a minute. In spite of all the travail it was a great trip, a beautiful day to be outside and just plain fun. We are planning another trip soon before the snow goes. This one will be down Taku Arm, same place I went with the dogs, only this time we will go thru Jones Pass to Atlin Lake. Oh boy, Spring in the Yukon!