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Back In The Saddle

The author on her first sled. • Credit: Dave and Donna Bright
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Back In The Saddle

Why this winter is the perfect time to rediscover snowmobiling

It's good for your mental health, gets the blood pumping, and it's a safe way to get outdoors. So why did it take me so long to get back on a sled? Read how one northern Ontarian rediscovered her passion for riding after years of work burnout and city life.

I grew up outdoors in Waubamik Ontario, just east of Parry Sound. Our winter activities included snowshoeing, skiing, skating, tobogganing, and of course, snowmobiling. All of those everyday experiences of living an outdoor life in Northeastern Ontario are what shaped me into who I am today. Someone that works hard, travels widely, and has a real sense of adventure in my soul.

snowmobiling is a way of life up here

I remember as a child being towed behind my dad’s snowmobile in the most archaic sled. Of course I was wearing a flashy neon suit that was all the rage in the early 90s. As my brother and I grew up our parents gifted us with a Yamaha Snoscoot. Later we bought our own snowmobiles with our hard earned summer job money. My bright red Indy 440 is still a staple in my memory bank.

My first snowmobile  // photo credit Dave and Donna Bright

Then life happened. University, moving to the city, a car, my career, a house, kids, marriage, divorce. Last year I was watching the kids play hockey with a smile on my face when I realized I was watching life from the sidelines. It was time to do something for myself again.

There's no better time than now

So last winter, for the first time in twenty years, I was determined to get out for a ride at home again. 

On the Dun-Ahmic Snow Riders trails we spotted a beaver, some raccoons, and fox tracks // photo credit credit Bilie-Marie Crossman Hunter 

I had forgotten how much I loved the smell, the buzz of the engine, the fresh air, the wind, and the rosy cheeks. Getting out deep into nature, the untouched surroundings, seeing wilderness for miles, the fresh powder, the wildlife we stopped and encountered, all flashed into my brain as new memories while making me feel like I was a teenager again.

Ice formations on the Rose Point Trail maintained by the South Seguin Snowmobile Club // photo credit Billie-Marie Crossman Hunter 

Regain a sense of community

Being out riding reminded me that snowmobiling is a community. After getting fuel at Nobel Esso we hopped on the Carling Trailblazers trail and another rider waved at us as we passed. Enjoying a homemade meal at Loggers Station House while comparing riding destinations and trail conditions with other riders. Warming up with family and friends over a hot chocolate at Georgian Bay Travel Centre. And then finishing our day watching the sunset over Georgian Bay amongst dozens of ice fishing huts.

We love our Georgian Bay time // photo credit Random Ryan Tarrant

If you have the chance this winter, do yourself a favour, and get out there! The nerves will pass quickly and it will become second nature again before you know it. If you need a refresh here's some essential tips and safety reminders to get you started. And here's a snowmobiling bucket list to get you inspired. 

That day it wasn’t only the wind causing my cheeks to burn, it was also the grin that spread from ear to ear.

Maybe this season I’ll even get back in that drivers seat!

Sunset over Georgian Bay in Parry Sound // photo credit Billie-Marie Crossman Hunter


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