Adventures in the far north

The Courier goes north to play at Germansen Landing, and learns a lesson in the process.

Okay, it isn’t really the far north, but it was the furthest north I had been directly from the Fort, and it seemed fairly remote.

Now, where I come from, there is the Chilcotin, a rugged, high plateau of wilderness that to me has always seemed to attract what I would call “characters.”

These people are independent types, who seem drawn to a place where a person is what they make of themselves, and life can be a little less complicated, if a lot less convenient.

My trip to Germansen Landing reminded me of the Chilcotin. Where people build their own homes and make their own entertainment.Bridge photo

I went there to visit friends and ride snowmobiles.

Now I am by no means a snowmobiler.

If you read my story on the Poker Ride, you’ll know I did not grow up in a house where motorized sports were a part of our recreation. We skied and hiked, canoed and fished, but we definitely did not ski-doo.

But there I was, in Germansen Landing for two days to snowmobile.

It seemed almost surreal when we unloaded the machines onto dirt, but the snow started just around the corner, and we were off.

It was sunny and beautiful and there was still plenty of snow as we climbed up a little higher.

The next surreal experience came when we arrived at the home of a local by the name of Ron, who in the afternoon sunshine was sitting outside by a fire with his shirt off enjoying a cold one with some friends, all of them dressed in summer wear, but completely surrounded by snow. It looked like a great time with some interesting people, but we were soon off again on our machines to head even higher and play on the spring snow.

The day was an adventure, and I managed to keep up by just sticking straight on the trail and plugging along on the little 440 they had loaned me. When we got to a clearing, I would watch from the road and take pictures with my little pocket camera while those with experience and faster machines jumped and did sweeping turns.

For an afternoon snack, we stopped and our generous hosts Nancy and Jacques Perreault cooked us moose steaks over an open fire.

We ended the day back at Ron’s World (he actually has a sign on his driveway calling it that) where I managed to enjoy a beer with our enthusiastic host, despite my exhausted state.

It was a great day.

The next day, the sun was not shining, and many of us were sore from the day before, some with sore heads to boot, but we finally managed to roust ourselves for another day of riding, after an epic breakfast with homemade toasted bread, eggs, bacon, sausage strips and all the trimmings.

It was almost a wonder we could move at all at that point.

By the crack of noon we were well on our way to head up a narrow trail into the mountains, climbing to a place called Duckling, where we were rewarded with an incredible view and some epic snow conditions.

After enjoying this for awhile and another lunch stop, we headed back down the winding trail through the trees, where I had done my first side hilling on a snowmobile and had started to try jumping the sled over small obstacles.

Did I mention I was on a 600 by the second day?

Well, as we were almost at the road that would take us easily back down to Ron’s World, I was enjoying myself but still a bit overwhelmed by the power of this newer, more powerful sled. I even thought to myself how much more dangerous motorized sports are than so many other sports, considering how unskilled you can be and yet attain such high speeds.

Not five minutes later, I find myself going just a little too fast over a roller (okay, I meant to go fast over it, the rider in front of me had, but as soon as I did I thought, “Hmmm, I wonder what’s on the other side?”).

Well, on the other side was a short downhill and a turn to the left, with a tree well on the right side of that corner.

Long story short, I didn’t quite make the turn, and the sled went off the trail into the tree well, I went off into the snow, hitting the arm of the ski with my hand on the way down.

Stunned, I was completely terrified I had damaged the borrowed sled, and stood there wondering how on earth we could get it out of that hole.

Then two more riders caught up and pointed out the blood.

Apparently, when my hand hit the ski, I came into contact with a nasty piece of metal on it, about four inches long with a sharp point on the end, I hadn’t even had a chance to notice the hole in my glove yet.

Pulling off the glove, there was a deep puncture wound in the muscle at the base of my thumb and about two inches wide.

After some great first aid from my friend, who tore up her own shirt to bandage the cut, I was a one-handed passenger, and it was just lucky we had an extra rider to take the other snowmobile down.

It was a long ride back with a wounded hand, but thanks to the great group of folks who took care of me, I had the easy part, just sit in the back and rest.

Six stitches later in emergency at 1 a.m. and I’ve got at least a week of slightly gimpy note-taking and no bicycling, but I definitely got off easy. It could just as easy have been much worse, and I had great help.

But I’m pretty sure I won’t be quite so reckless the next time I am in the driver’s seat of a snow machine, lesson learned. Check.

I will however, be back in Germansen.