“You want to ride around Lake Nipissing?”
The proposal caught me off guard.
“In one day?”
“In one day?”
“No, three days. You know, a bagger tour.”
A bagger tour refers to the practice of strapping your luggage to the machine and hitting the trails for a few days. I don't know why it took me so long to clue in; I have been partaking in the motorcycling equivalent for years. Maybe it’s because my snowmobiling pursuits are only two weeks old and my experience consists of a couple of day trips.
I start unfolding my collection of Northeastern Ontario snowmobile trail maps – one map, two maps, three maps, four – the spiderweb of trails grows with each unfurling. Wow, there are more trails here than roads!
Do I want to ride around Lake Nipissing? Sign me up, I’m in!
WOW – an exclamation to express astonishment or admiration.
If there’s a word to describe my bagger tour experience, “WOW” would be a good one.
Imagine pulling into a North Bay hotel and seeing more sleds than cars, WOW. Cruising for hours on perfectly groomed trails with only your buddies for company, WOW. The view from the snowmobile bridge over the French River, WOW. The sunrise over a lake of fresh white snow, WOW. The friendly locals at the ma and pa joints who don't know your name but make you feel like they do, WOW. The views, the snow, the vastness of the landscape, the neverending trail, WOW, WOW, WOW.
The three days spent on the RAN Tour (Ride Around Nipissing Tour) changed my perception of snowmobiling forever. I no longer see it as an activity because when the snow flies in Northeastern Ontario it becomes a way of life. With a thousand kilometres of trail in the bag, (See what I did there? Bag? Bagger tour? LOL), I developed a hunger for more. Luckily, Northeastern Ontario's trail network of 6000 kilometres leaves me plenty of fare to feed that hunger.
So, “What’s next?” you ask.
Or maybe the Chiniguchi Wolf Loop that snakes amongst 200-year- old red pines and rewards you with a spectacular view from Wolf Mountain lookout, the highest point in Ontario at 693 metres.
I would love to get on the Abitibi Canyon Loop, Ontario's wildest, most remote, and farthest north-reaching groomed snowmobile trail.
Search for ghosts at the abandoned sawmill town of Sellwoodon on the Cartier Moose Loop. Apparently it’s a good loop to spot the namesake moose or maybe the elusive lynx.
Experience northern logging, past and present, as you town hop on the Lumberjack Loop. The towns of Moonbeam, Kapuskasing, Val Rita-Harty and Opasatika line the loop’s 148-kilometre length.
Then there is the Gateway to the North Loop. I have heard amazing tales of trails as wide as a three-lane expressway and a snow pack that lasts well into April. Easter weekend, anybody?