I planned a trip to Newfoundland in February and watched the weather religiously from my smart phone. I watched Nova Scotia and New Brunswick get pounded just about daily by storms. The south coast of Newfoundland was getting snow then rain, then more snow, then more rain. Just when I thought it wasn’t going to happen, the cold weather and snow came in just as I hoped. I booked my plane ticket and arrived in Deer Lake on the 23 of February.  



My sister picked me up and we drove to my home town of Bay D’ Espoir where I grew up. I was greeted by my parents and the smell of Mom’s home cooking. After supper Dad and I sat down and made a list of the things we needed for a trip on snowmobiles up to Wolf Lake and then to Dolland’s pond - a trip that would take four days and cover over 200 km. 

Tuesday morning, Dad and I packed up 20 gallons of gas and enough food for four days. I hadn’t driven my 2013, 600 Summit Sport and I was looking forward to putting some miles on it. Dad was riding a 2004, Ski-doo GTX two up.  



We arrived on snowmobiles to Dad’s cabin at Jeddore Lake in early afternoon. We quickly got the fire going and unpacked our gear. The snow was drifted around the cabin but not as bad as some years. Before long the fire was roaring and the cabin was warm. Dad and I visited and cooked supper; it was nice.  

After supper we cleaned up and jumped on the snow-machines and went to my brother, Glenn’s cabin about two km away where we met up with Gerald John, Glenn Lilly and Lindon Augot. There we discussed what the plan was for the next three days and what gear we would take for the 200 km trip. At about 10 bells Dad and I hopped on our sleds and went to his cabin for the night.  

I woke the next morning to Dad cooking breakfast and the fire crackling; the smell was great. After we cleaned up and packed everything in the sleigh we met up with Glenn and Gerald. Lindon wanted to come, but he was a single dad and we parted ways. After a brief discussion and some repacking we decided to eliminate one sleigh, so we had four snowmachines with three sleighs in tow.  



Gerald was driving a 2013 Ski doo Skandic SWT. That machine is like a tractor - unstoppable. It comes with the 900 ace four stroke which makes it amazing on gas. Glenn was 
driving a 2005 GTX with 22,000 km on it. That is not a typing error - 22,000 km! 

We left the south cut off dam in single file. In the rear of the convoy, with no sleigh in tow, was my 75 year old father who is in amazing shape. The Hydro road was plowed for the first couple miles. The drifts on the side of the road were six feet high in places, but the road we were on was smooth and great going. I was so tempted to hit some of the drifts and play around, but if we were going to get to our destination before dark at Wolf Lake, I decided I better not waste time playing in the drifts trying to get stuck. 



As we travelled about 50 km down the Hydro access road, at first we saw a few people here and there. The further north we went, the fewer people and snowmobile tracks we saw. I also noticed more barren ground and less trees. 

Just before we got to where we were going to turn off the access road, the road was washed out from all the rains earlier in the season. We noticed someone had built a makeshift bridge to cross the brook. We stopped for a break and to warm up before we ventured out across the open country. 



My brother turned on the GPS and Dad being old school took a compass reading before we left the access road to venture out across the open barren land. Trees were spread out, mostly bluffs of woods down in valleys. The sun was shining and the day was starting to warm up nicely but the wind was still blowing especially up on some of the high knobs. 

Snow conditions were good and we were trying to take the easy path to our destination. We tried to get down through some of the leads where the GPS was telling us to go. There was not enough snow in some places to pick our path through the trees and low brush. It was hard getting turned around with a sleigh in tow in the four foot high trees. Normally they are drifted in and it’s not a problem turning around. We managed to get up out of there without getting stuck. We had to find an alternate path around where we needed to go. The problem with that is if you go a mile off the path to get around an area you need to find your GPS tracks again to get back on the right path. 



We got up out of the valley and started going around a big island of woods when Gerald John stopped, grabbed his camera and started taking pictures of Woodland caribou. Gerald being a guide for Conne River Outfitters, spotted the caribou off in the distance where I hadn’t seen them. 

We circled the big island of woods and made it back on the trail to Wolf Lake. We could see a pond off in the distance called Rocky Pond that we had to cross. In order to get down to the pond that was surrounded by trees we had to take the trail along by the brook. In some places we had to cross the brook. Brooks can be dangerous any time of the year. Glenn made the first crossing and broke through but he had enough speed to get out of it without getting wet or stuck. I went second and went around the spot where he broke through. Then the others followed my tracks. Just before we entered Rocky Pond where the snow was drifted up eight to ten feet, Glenn stopped not wanting to get stuck in the drift. He asked me to take the lead in my Summit then the rest followed.  

After we crossed Rocky Pond we came across a couple more unnamed ponds. On one small pond we stopped at an island of woods and had lunch. Typical Newfoundland style is lighting a fire and boiling the kettle at lunch. Pressed for time and wanting to get to the cabin before dark we ate our half frozen sandwiches and pressed on. 

After we ate and left the unnamed pond I noticed we started seeing more trees. The ground wasn’t so barren. Gerald was just in front of me when he stopped. He had lost a pin that holds the hitch on to his sleigh. A two dollar pin at the store is worth a lot more than that when you are fifty miles from a store. My advice to people planning a big trip like this is to take a few different types of pins with you. Dad, having been on hundreds of trips like this, had many different types of pins with him pulling us through again with his tickle trunk, which he has mounted on the back of his 550 fan. He carries everything but the kitchen sink in there. 

We came to Dolland’s Pond where the Conne River outfitters have a camp. Our plan was to stay there the second night if all went well. After we left Dolland’s Pond we could see Wolf Mountain off in the distance approximately ten miles away. The sun was still shining but the wind was picking up and we were not going to break any land speed records. When we got to Wolf Mountain we could see Wolf Lake down in the bottom. The wind was strong up on the mountain so we wasted no time getting down to the lake and over to the cabin. The cabin was up on a hill and the snow was deep going up the narrow trail. Gerald took the lead with his SWT, his sleigh in tow. That Ski-Doo is amazing. 

The cabin is owned by the government and the sign on the door says “use but don’t abuse.” It was cold but there was firewood for our use. The deal with using a cabin like that is if you use wood, replace it for the next person. Dad and I got the fire going and Glenn and Gerald took the chainsaw and went to cut a sleigh load of wood.  

Dad peeled potatoes and we had bottled moose meat with potatoes. The meal was great after a full day on the Ski -Doo. After supper was over and dishes were all done, Gerald took out his satellite radio. Someone brought out a bottle of rum. Everyone told funny stories and had some great laughs. We turned in about eleven. Listening to the fire crackling I fell sound asleep. 

The next morning was snowing and blowing. After a breakfast of baloney and eggs, we cleaned the cabin up, packed our sleighs and left before the storm got worse. I am glad we had the GPS in a situation like this. The journey over to Dolland’s Pond was luckily without incident in the storm.

We arrived at Conne River Outfitters; the cabin was up on a hill. The snow was deep with lots of deep drifts. The trail to the cabin was on the side of the hill and was drifted in. Riding the Summit, I decided to go up a steep embankment and drive back down a trail. In my first attempt I couldn’t get around a tree and got stuck. Dad helped me get out. My second attempt - no problem. I went down the trail, then Gerald, riding the SWT, went right up the trail no problem. That sled is unreal. Great on fuel and great in the deep snow. 

We got the fire going and it stopped snowing and the wind slowed down a bit. Glenn and I went for wood while dad unpacked the food and cleaned things up. Gerald got the generator going. Glenn and I packed the wood box full for the night. 

Cell service is almost non-existent, but Gerald had to phone his wife about a plan for the next day. It was early afternoon and Dad decided to stay at the cabin to rest. The three of us took a ride up to cell rock, a high point about five miles from the cabin up on a high knob. We navigated our way through the trees across some barren ground to a very high spot where we got cell service so all of us touched base with home to let everyone know things were going well. We got back to the cabin about four and Dad had a great meal of boiled veggies and boiled chicken. The meal was fit for a king. 

The view from the veranda overlooking the lake was beautiful. As we were on the veranda admiring the view, we saw two moose, a cow and a calf, walking across the lake. We sledded out for a closer look and a few pics. It was nice.  

The evening was quiet as we sat around the table telling stories and enjoying a night cap. We had some great laughs as we caught up on old times.  Dad and I were up early adding wood to the fire to keep it going and cooking breakfast. It didn’t take long for Glenn and Gerald to get up after we started cooking. 

After a great breakfast, we cleaned things up, packed up the sleigh and were on our way back to the trucks. The trip back to the trucks went smooth with the sun shining. As we were sledding out I was grateful for the time I had spent with my father who never missed a beat on our trip. Glenn and Gerald were great guides. They got us down and back without incident. The scenery was breath taking, the weather was good. I couldn’t ask for a nicer trip. If I am lucky I will do it again next year but to a different destination in Newfoundland.  

 


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