Editor's Note: The 14th Annual Bonfield & District Lions Blue Sea ATV Fundraiser and Poker Run will be held at the Bolter-Depot Creek Conservation Area, just north of Algonquin Park on Saturday May 7th, 2016
After another great winter for snowmobiling in Ontario, it was refreshing to plan for an ATV event in the Mattawa-Bonfield area. A chance to hit the trails and see the change of scenery had created a buzz in the local community. The 13th Annual Bonfield & District Lions Club Blue Sea ATV Fundraiser and Poker Run was held on Saturday May 2, 2015 and it was a clear bluebird day with double digit temperatures. The 65-km course, set within the Boulter Conservation Area south of Bonfield Ontario, was conquered by more than 150 off-road vehicles; the majority of which were ATV’s although a few Side by Sides and Dual Sport Bikes also made it out. The weather and trail diversity couldn’t have been better for this year’s ride!
The day is more than just an awesome ride with friends, a king’s meal, and a chance to win big. If you ask a Lion, they'll tell you it's about community pride, good times and teamwork. Locally, the Bonfield Lions Club is an active leader and supporter of many community projects that have a wide impact on people of all ages and demographics.
The days begins with welcoming and registration at the Bonfield Lions Dens on Line 3 South. The Den and neighbouring municipal garage provide ample parking on site for trucks and trailers of any length. It's encouraged to download a pledge form a few weeks prior to collect sponsors; the highest pledge contributors get first pick from the prize table. In addition to the prize table, participants ride and play poker, with first place receiving $500, second $300 and third $100.
The ride from the Lion’s Den to the trail head is only a few short kilometres, the route is well marked with large “Lions Rally” signs strategically posted. If you're staying at Cedar Gables Lodge or the Dinner Bell Restaurant and Motel, the den is just up the road. If you arrive with a passenger, the Lions provide a free shuttle or you can join Side by Side users and park at the trail head at the end of Blue Sea Road.
This time of year brings with it some of the most interesting earth textures and consistencies as we morph between the north's winter and summer climates. While some sections of trail were bone dry, other sections oozed a mixture of slush and dirt adding to the challenge and exhilaration of the ride.
As you approach Clear Lake, where volunteers have a full canteen set up, you can’t help but notice the pristine backdrop. The crisp aqua blue water has recently become ice-free and is sparkling against the sky. This is a great rest spot and an opportunity to socialize, have lunch, and clean some of the mud off your goggles or glasses.
After leaving Clear Lake, we rode into some of the thickest forest within the Boulter Conservation Area, the trails tightened up and the ride became more technical. One section of the trail held a deep mud hole, which challenged both rider and machine.
While waiting to film riders coming through the mud hole, I discovered this gigantic yellow spotted salamander. I’ve found both blue and yellow before in my log pile at home, but nothing the size of this one. My research indicates these salamanders can grow upwards of 20cm in length. You can learn more about them here.
I arrived back at the Lion’s Den just in time to witness the first cuts from the massive roast beef that had been cooking since 3 am that day. The slow roasted beef had been cooked rotisserie-style by the master Lions volunteers. The aroma was overpowering and our group couldn’t wait to line up and fill our plates. To complement the perfectly cooked beef we loaded our plates with mashed potatoes, roasted beans, coleslaw and veggies, it was clear that no one would go hungry with this spread.
I encourage you to save the date, put the first weekend of May 2016 in your calendar, and plan to make the trip to Bonfield to participate in the 14th Annual Bonfield Lions Fundraiser & Poker Rally. You're guaranteed some good times on the trails, and I can promise you won’t go home hungry!
See you on the trail!