After meeting Darcy and Joanne at the OFSC's Annual General Meeting 2013 and hearing of their lodge—Cedar Gables—it was very clear to all of us that this would be our New Year's destination. The fact that it's located right on the trail was a bonus. Packing on the morning of the 29th, after having enjoyed some amazing early season riding in the Kawarthas, our expectations were high for a great 3 day trip. During the course of the 2.5 hour drive, heading from central Ontario's cottage country towards the near North, we saw the temperatures drop from +1 to -20 Celsius!
After a fabulous breakfast at the Lodge, we geared up in our layers for riding in the brisk -26 morning air. Jeff McGirr met us at the lodge and took us on a tour of some fabulous freshly-groomed, Bonfield trails. About 5" of untracked powder had fallen and laid over the perfectly groomed ribbon that was the result of a fresh groomer pass in the night. Although it was bitterly cold, the view from the Boulter Lookout warmed us for the next part of our adventure.
Our off-trail tour led us down snow-covered forestry access roads and an old abandoned rail-bed. Deer sightings were plentiful, however not so for the elusive moose. Their tracks were everywhere. We knew they were just behind cover watching us as we rode by, but we couldn't see them.
Time to Explore
Heading back, we stopped for a rest beside a rustic camp where the gracious owners invited us in to warm up by the time-trusted, cook stove. They filled us with stories about a camp full of history, which was displayed in every post and beam that we saw.
Along the RAP Tour
One more quick stop at a trailside scenic lookout and we were on our way for a fuel stop, for both sleds and stomachs in Mattawa. Both were well-marked and easily found just off the main trail in town. From our table in the Valois' Restaurant and Motel, the view of Quebec, just across the river, was almost as spectacular as the Mount Antoine burger.
Back at the Lodge, our hosts greeted us with supplies and beverages that we had pre-ordered for the evening's festivities. This is a regular, convenient service that they offer, and they just bill it to your room. BBQ'd snacks and beverages outside by a barrel fire kept us warm until we all rang in the New Year together in the Common Room while watching the ball drop on the big screen TV.
Our experience was top notch on this trip, and we definitely will be returning again. We fully recommend it to anyone regardless of riding ability. Braappy New Year!