Back Tracks

We put on a Boondockers Marathon at Strawberry Hill last week. Sitting in the comfort of our old hangout and feeling rather nostalgic about the many great trips enjoyed at the resort, we decided to throw ‘Powder to the People’ in the DVD player and sat back to watch the revolution of the sport. This recently released video (2008) combines the first four Boondockers DVD’s as well as a compilation of ‘The Best of Boondockers’ – including a number of shots which had never been released before. From what might now be considered embarrassing jumps to the extreme action our Utah riders embrace, we had a wonderful evening reminiscing about the old times while speculating on what the future could hold for our sport.

Through the many improvements in machine design, rider fitness, protective equipment and the application of the most basic physical theories – snowmobiling has transcended into one of the most exciting sporting activities on the planet. Of course I’d like to think that the film community has also played an important role in all of this. From the individual riders ability to review and study their riding style to the inspiration the ‘Booondockers’ series and other sled videos have provided for up and coming riders the world over. Indeed, I am more than proud of what the Boondockers crew has accomplished thus far. But I feel there are two people who were instrumental in advancing our project back in the day; neither of whom received appropriate acknowledgement in this video.

Brian Seaward: I will never forget the first time I saw young Brian ride. It was the winter of 1997 and my father, my uncles and the Smallwood family decided to visit us at Strawberry Hill in the hope of experiencing the mountainous terrain which I’d spoken of so often. Though intrigued by the obvious improvements in their sled design I was unwilling to forego my time on the local ski hill (Marble Mountain) and a fresh blanket of snow that measured nearly 70cm. At this stage of my life I had long abandoned snowmobiling, usurped by my new passion and career as a skier. Additionally, I was terribly unfamiliar with the surrounding wilds and felt the boys would be better served by a professional guide. Upon returning from their first outing with Brian I was somewhat dismayed by the state of awe he affected on my family. They were truly speechless and were unable to describe the experience when questioned about their day. “You’ve never seen anything like it! It’s like trying to follow a jack rabbit through the woods – his machine pounces everywhere!”

Needless to say, I decided I had to see this for myself. The very next day we arranged to meet and from the onset I was indeed impressed. Brian was riding a 1997 Yamaha phazer mountain light whose track boasted an unheard of 1.5” lug. Quite a machine in its day – especially when parked next to the 440 Panterra I was using. This however compared in no way to his actual riding prowess. Make no wonder the boys were so hard put to attempt a description? He climbed hills otherwise considered impossible – lifting a ski and cutting upwards (?????) where any normal rider would have swung back to safety. He leapt drifts with the style and dexterity of a motocross racer. Descents defied gravity as he scuffed speed off downward hillsides by shifting from ski to ski like a slalom racer. It was truly amazing!

And to think I was poisoned at the old man last evening for suggesting that Brian was a better rider than me? He didn’t ride! – He sledded! And what good would it do to resent the young fellow? “Jealousy will do you no good when your world is green with envy!” I wanted to sled. I was instantly addicted.
And what an opportunity? For I thought I’d discovered a new genre of action sports and just as Warren Miller had done for skiing – this was a perfect medium to promote Strawberry Hill and Newfoundland as a snowmobile destination! So Boondockers was born!

Jonathon Paulse. In order to make a baby – you’ve got to have a partner. Jonathon was mine. Jonathon had made movies, he could edit, he could film, he could work the music, he knew what he was at! And he could wait tables. After all we didn’t have an enormous budget and we did have a resort to run. Despite many hardships (I broke my leg off that year and Brian Seaward rode with less abandon when he found out he was soon to be a Dad) we still had a ridiculously good time.

Eventually Boondockers moved, so did I – but Jonathon’s passion never strayed. You can still find him living with his wife and new born in their adopted home – Western Newfoundland. He currently owns and operates a successful restaurant (Main Street Pub and Eatery) located right on the snowmobile trail in Pasadena. Next time you’re headed his way I’d highly recommend a visit – With all the big screen TV’s available he should have no trouble setting you up on a Boondockers marathon of your own!

Sweat your Brains out!

2 thoughts on “Back Tracks

  1. I would also like to express my appreciation of hearing the tale of boondocker’s start. Its crazy what snowmobiling can inspire one to do.

  2. Andrew, you are the man of many stories! I’m always excited to see a new article on the site from you. You always provide another perspective and appreciation for BOONDOCKERS and snowmobiling. Thank you.

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