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New Brunswick : A snowmobiling destination to discover (Part I)

For two years now, SledMagazine.com is a partnered with the New Brunswick Federation of Snowmobile Clubs (NBFSC) to promote snowmobiling on their territory.  As we became a Corporate Partner Level III of NBFSC in 2010-2011, SledMagazine.com has been invited on a three-day media tour last February.  I had the opportunity to represent SledMagazine.com and to ride over 600 km with our hosts, Mr Jody Tower, President of NBFSC, and Mr Ross Antworth, General Manager of NBFSC.  

The Province of New Brunswick is a very popular destination among snowmobilers from Québec, Ontario and United States.  New Brunswick being a bilingual province, we could communicate in French or in English in all of the businesses we visited along the way.  The NBFSC gathers 50 clubs distributed in 8 zones (regions).  They share the maintenance of over 7 000 kilometers of snowmobile trails that provide unique and very diversified circuits.  The type of snow cover is also very diversified.  Of course, there is usually lots of snow on the ground in northern New Brunswick while quantities are at their normal level in the southern part of the province.  I say «usually» because when we were there, it was the other way around due to some  Mother Nature mood swings.

New Brunswick includes large territories which are owned by companies from the logging industry and very often, the trail network follows their logging-roads.  But , the great thing is in those sectors the trails get to be 30 feet wide .  It’s fabulous to ride there because we beneficiate from a perfectly clear vision and we can enjoy outstanding panoramas.

Now, I am pleased to share with you my adventure story on the  New Brunswick trails.

My very good friend Philippe Soucy, SledMagazine.com Webmaster and columnist, is riding with me on this amazing trip.  Our rallying point is Campbellton, N.B., in front of Pointe-à-la-Croix, Gaspésie QC.  When we arrive at Howard Johnson Hotel the day before departure, it is around  35 ºC.  It’s going to be a cold one! 

Upon arrival, we meet our two hosts along with them our two other riders, Mr Paul Jorgensen, from NB Trails, and Mr Carl Lavigne, from New Brunswick Department of Tourism and Parks.  So, we will be 6 snowmobilers to enjoy this adventure ! After discussing the schedule, we all go to bed to have a fresh start in the morning !

Day # 1 Campbellton to Doaktown

We enjoy a hearty breakfast; then we gather in the hotel parking with our luggage for departure.  It is still around -30 ºC and we have to warm up our machines while we pack up our sleds.  A few minutes later, we hit the access trail downtown that will lead us to the main network.  There it is ! We are leaving now !

On this very cold morning, we are very pleased to see that trails have just been groomed.  The bottom is very firm and our snowmobile performances are at their best…  To complete this wonderful scenario, the sun is shining in a clear sky.

As we are getting away from Campbelton, trails and scenery are quickly changing and we are now riding on a wonderful trail that runs on an old railway bed.  Trees and ground are covered with plenty of snow and we savour each second of the beginning of this journey.

After a few hours, we pause shortly in a warming shack equipped with a small woodstove that warms us while we talk about the great trail conditions.  We also learn that there are many of these small cabins on the New Brunswick territory and that they may be used as refuges for snowmobilers who break down or have an accident.

Afterwards, we hop back on our sleds to continue our route towards one of the most known relays by the New Brunswick snowmobilers : Governor’s Wilderness Lodge (also known as Popple Depot).  Effectively, this relay is located on a strategic site to gas up and have a meal.  Moreover, small cabins are available on the site if you want to stay for the night. So like all, We are going to have lunch here and to refuel our snowmobiles.

The Governor’s Wilderness Lodge is located along trail #23, on a section called Piston Alley.  It seems that many snowmobilers ended their day with a rope around their front bumper after riding on this trail.  Here, trail is very wide, with a very good vision for many miles.

After lunch, we continue our tour towards another location very appreciated by snowmobilers :  Serpentine Lodge !  There, we meet the owner, Mr Alyre Marquis. He told us that this area is among the first ones to receive snow and is one of the last regions to be open for snowmobiling in New Brunswick.  On his part, Mr Antworth tells us that Serpentine Lodge is a key site for connecting trails from many regions of the province.  «Without these relays, it would not be possible to ride due to unavailability of fuel.  So, they are essential to our network existence…» says Mr Antworth.

Then, we hit the trail heading for Doaktown. At that point I realize the chance that Philippe and I are having to ride on such wonderful trails and to meet people who are so welcoming and caring.  Coming out of every turn, we discover a unique scenery.  We finally got to O’Donnell’s Cottages around 7:00 pm to spend the night.  We are going to share a very nice and very comfortable small cottage.  After dinner, we talk with our tour companions about details and events of the day.  Then, we get some sleep, dreaming about the wonderful snowmobiling day we just lived !  

This was (Part I) of my report on our snowmobiling tour in New Brunswick!  Do not miss its conclusion soon to be published on SledMagazine.com.

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