Adventures in Snow Sledding (AKA Snowmobiling)

Seven AM Saturday morning we loaded up the skis packs boots and sleds for a trip to the farm cabin nestled northeast of Prince George in the McGregor mountains.

For decades there has been a love-hate relationship between skiers and sledders, mostly hate on the part of the skiers. Sledders probably just laugh at us.

Nowadays government budgets are not sufficient to keep logging roads and Forest Service roads plowed in the winter. For skiers, sleds are becoming a necessity allowing us access to prime backcountry ski areas.

All our ski equipment, avalanche safety gear, and technical clothing is topnotch and kept in good working condition. The sleds are usually bottom of the line and may get looked over grudgingly once a year.

We stopped at the Pass Lake road with all the other vehicles, unloaded the machines, packed all the gear into the skimmers and set off down the compact snow filled road for about 30 K.

We turned left at the same place we did last year, an overgrown logging road thick with willows 1 ½ inches in diameter. From there we climbed over the ridge and descended down into the meadow across from the cabin. The snow was yucky wet and heavy.

Yesterday morning we did a steep climb up the side of Bob’s bowl, staying well back from the cornice, see pics and skied along the ridge. The sun came out and we sat on the edge of Easter bowl to enjoy lunch.

The avalanche conditions were termed considerable. In every direction we could see deep crevices, slab avalanches and snow everywhere glittering under deep blue skies. Reluctantly we tore ourselves away because we did want to get back home at a decent hour.

The steep slope made the descent back through the glades back to the sleds rather enjoyable despite the yucky snow. I even got in a few decent turns. Simon was worried about his sled running out of gas and we joked about using Joycelin’s hose from her camel pack to siphon gas from one of the other machines into his.

After loading everything we followed Simon along the road. So did all those other sledders (real sledders) who we had heard earlier whizzing loudly over the ice on the lake. They all passed us going as fast as they could, bouncing up and down, their skimmers hanging on for dear life.

We soon came across Simon stopped in the middle of the road the fan belt of his sled was in shreds. Luckily he had another one. He got out his manual and toolkit. Barbara and Garnet, the other sled owners, tried to help.

One of those other sledders zoomed up to us stopped and was soon offering advice and encouragement. But Simons toolkit did not have the crucial tool a T wrench, so on to plan B.

Tie Simons bigger, heavier sled behind one of the smaller ones and tie both skimmers onto the other one. Sounds great except nobody had anything which would not shred in minutes to use as a tow rope. The real sledder offered us one of his.

That left only four seats for the five of us. Jocelyn loudly proclaimed there was no way she was riding with the other sledder. I asked him if he could drive slower. I was glad when Simon We rode after their fleeting figures as they disappeared around a bend went with him.

We followed in their dust. The engine on Garnets sled was overheating, We had to keep stopping to let it cool off. Eventually, we took off the hood and used a bungee cord to secure it to the seat of Simons now useless sled, although it didn’t seem to help because the sled stopped again anyway by itself.

Garnet unscrewed the cap on the gas tank. It was empty. The others caught up to us I thought of the 2 big orange jerrycans, full of gas no doubt, in the real sledder’s skimmer.

Plan c was to siphon the gas from Simons sled into Garnets. To do it we dug a whole for Garnets sled so it would be lower. Only problem Jocelyn’s camelback hose was to short.

A Nalgene, bad plastic bottle was used instead to transfer the gas, all 5 gallons of it. Once again, after filling the hole back up with snow, we drove down the long road towards the vehicles. I was glad to see the numbers on each yellow marker sign decreasing as we drove by them.

It took forever to load all the gear into the trucks and onto the trailers. It was getting cold as well as dark.

It was after ten PM before I arrived home.