I recently guided an â€œIsland Wide Tour of Newfoundlandâ€ for my Brother Markâ€™s company (our family business), McCarthyâ€™s Party Tours Ltd. While traveling along the Great Northern Peninsula I pointed to a woods road located just north of the Port aux Choix Peninsula explaining that we had snowmobiled in this area as late as the sixth of June that year. Though the group was quite astonished by the length of our riding season, my driver was more impressed with our determination and dedication to the sport and so shared this story with me later that evening.Â
Apparently my father and my uncles (Committed riders since the early 1970â€™s) borrowed an old bus that my driver had converted into a fall hunting shack; parked on a high piece of ground in central Newfoundlandâ€™s barren caribou country. Though heâ€™d explained that â€˜BUSâ€™TEDâ€™ (the camps name) was in no way suitable for winter use, the boys (perhaps suffering from the anxiety that can consume an impatient rider who has yet to see snow late in the winter season) were not to be deterred. He said heâ€™d never forget watching them backing out of his driveway, three big men crammed into the cab of a Chevy Pickup with three ski-dooâ€™s in the back – A 12hp Olympic was crossways in the front of the box while two Johnson 32hp machines sat head to toe in the rear. Never in his life had he seen a truck so full and so expertly loaded â€“ Dozens of woven sacks and large duffel bags squeezed through the tight bonding which secured the cargo and though they were only part time fishermen there was no need to tie lots (Canâ€™t tie knots â€“ Tie lots! Eh boy?) These were capable men and so he never worried when (other then a case of rum and a brief note of thanks) he never heard from them again!
Fortunately the story doesnâ€™t end here for Bill was more than enthusiastic about relaying the rest of the events as he imagined them. The difficulties they must have experienced in the deep snow which crippled machines of that era. The long nights they must have spent manning the tiny firebox in the summer stove. The amount of shoveling needed to find the crude outhouse, the depth of ice to be chopped just to get water let alone drop a fishing line, cold feet, chilled bones and wind seared faces! Though we shared a great laugh at what must have been a tangly trip, my sage paused in reflection as the dinner ended, muttering (almost to himself) with a nod – â€œThey were hardy, eh boy?â€
And thatâ€™s how youâ€™ll have to be if you want to remain true to the sport during these long summer droughts. Forget this nonsense about global warming â€“ Weâ€™ve had hot summers and mild winters throughout all our recorded history. Letâ€™s never forget John Guy and those poor buggers who established the first North American colony in Cupids, Newfoundland back in 1610. They never saw aÂ flake of snow for six years till a good blast of winter reality sent the few survivors packing for home with the first sign of springâ€™s break up. Itâ€™s not warmer â€“ the clothing is better! The snow is just as deep â€“ but now we plow it more frequently and throw it back further from the road. The ice is still thick â€“ only the harbour doesnâ€™t freeze anymore because the sewerage and road salt has skewered the waterâ€™s salinity and weâ€™ve got better ice breaking equipment. We ride further then they did cause our machines have better flotation, are more maneuverable and exhibit better fuel economy and capacity. We donâ€™t get flats cause our tires donâ€™t have tubes anymore and they are now strengthened with radial bands, almost everyone has a double cab pickup these days and with all the covered trailers on the go it seems the only thing weâ€™ve got to worry about is tying one on â€“ which is what I suggest you do in the meantime.
Remember to play safe on the ponds, donâ€™t drink and drive and why not try to get the skipper down by the stage to tell a few stories about the old days cause I guarantee you itâ€™s fellows like him that invented the word Extreme