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White gold country: 4th stage : Amos to Senneterre, about 150 km

After a good night sleep at the Amosphère Resort and a delicious breakfast, we met our guide for the day, Mr Lucien Bouchard, president of Club de motoneige d’Amos.  Deeply committed to his club, he spends long hours making sure that the club provides quality and safe snowmobile trails.  Today, our special destination between Senneterre and Amos will be the Refuge Pageau. 
It was -10o C, snowing, and the trail was in perfect condition.  With the falling snow, the scenery was just fantastic.  After a few kilometers, we crossed a field to reach the Refuge Pageau.
History of the Refuge Pageau
The owner Mr Michel Pageau was a trapper; in 1986, he decided to stop trapping and to start taking care of the injured animals and rehabilitate them when possible.  The Refuge Pageau was born.
Visiting the Refuge Pageau
Michel Pageau’s grandson, Jean-Phillippe Pageau, welcomed us on the premises.  He works there since many years; well, not a job, he said, but rather a passion for animals.  We noticed that the Refuge had just been renovated and the visitors reception area was outstanding.  Funds for the Refuge come from donations.  After Jean-Philippe explained it all to us in detail, the visit began.
The first halt was to watch the wolves. Jean-Philippe got inside their enclosure without any safety device, as he had bottle-fed the female before.  Since his young age, Jean-Philippe has been accepted by the wolf pack; so, when he was with the female, the alpha male just got close, then returned to his surveillance.  What a memorable moment it has been to witness the close relationship between Jean-Philippe and the wolves.  Then, we visited mooses, otters, beavers and young sleeping bears.  Quite an adventure !  On the change of seasons, animals behavior also changes, said Jean-Philippe.  For a visit of the Refuge Pageau in winter, it is highly recommended to check visiting hours on the following web site www.refugepageau.ca .  
After this unforgettable visit, we said goodbye to our guide Mr Bouchard.  For the rest of our trip, we were again guided by Mr Nelson Laflamme.  So, we went for the Mont-Vidéo ski station near Barraute.  We rode on a very steep slope right to the top of the mount and believe me, it was worth it.  A lookout point overlooks all Abitibi-Ouest region; what a breathtaking view ! We took many pictures and then, we went down to the ski station restaurant.  The food, the service and the view of the slopes were great.
Then, we left for our final destination of the day, Senneterre.  I know I said it earlier, but I’ll say it again :  since La Sarre, the trails are like highways, very well groomed and with lots of sign boards.
Grenier boots
In the village of Barraute, we stopped at Fourrures Grenier where they handcraft winter fur boots.  If your feet get cold when snowmobiling, believe me you just have to wear Grenier fur boots and there will be no more cold feet.  I know it for a fact because my spouse wears these boots since many years.  I did not know that Grenier fur boots, an international product, was created by this small family business in Barraute.  I had the opportunity to visit the premises and the products are of the highest quality.  For more details, please visit the web site www.fourruresgrenier.ca .
End of the day
Just before Senneterre, we stopped in a small heated and very clean cabin.  We learned by Nelson that a volunteer of club de Senneterre & Barraute was taking care of this refuge like his own baby.  He is very proud that snowmobilers stop here and take time to write down a few lines in the notebook specially left for them inside.
After a few minutes, we left for our final destination; the trail had just been groomed.  We arrived in Senneterre by 4 p.m., at the Motel la bell Villa where we were given a warm welcome by the owner, Mrs Denise Duval.  We received the keys to our room and parked our snowmobile in a safe location.  After another good meal, we went for a good night sleep.  Please note that there is no restaurant on the premises, but you will find it 2 minutes-walk away.  
5th and last stage : Senneterre to Val-d’Or
Saturday February 18th 2012
It was -14° C.  Nelson invited his wife to join us for this last day and we were pleased to meet her too.  We left around 10 a.m.  We did not have a long distance to ride; it was going to be a nice smooth ride with our spouses to conclude this wonderful adventure.
The itinerary was different.  We crossed a few lakes, always very safely.  Trails were also bypassing many rivers and landscape was made of stunted spruce tundra.  The other side of the scenery made us forget these poor trees.  We stopped a few minutes in a clean and small heated refuge close to Val-d’Or and then, we left for good.  A few kilometers away, we put an end to our adventure with some sadness, but what an adventure we lived !
The trip is over
We gave a hug to our tour chief, Mr Nelson Laflamme, also called the Snowmobile Minister.  Effectively, he deserves this designation because all week long, I have been able to see why snowmobile is going so well in Abitibi.  Nelson is a man of integrity and a rallying person.  When this article will be published, Nelson will have ended his 8-year term as an administrator of the Fédération des clubs de motoneigistes du Québec.  The Abitibi snowmobile activity he leaves behind him is in very good conditions.  Congratulations Nelson for your commitment; have a nice retirement as an administrator.
Many thanks to Tourisme Abitibi-Témiscamingue for your kind invitation.  Special thanks to Mrs Nicole Gaulin who settled my itinerary with Mr Nelson Laflamme, administrator for the Fédération des clubs de motoneigistes du Québec.  Special thanks also to my so competent guides and to all the wonderful volunteers.  For more details on the Abitibi region, please visit the web site www.tourisme-abitibi-temiscamingue.org .
This season, friends snowmobilers, make sure to visit the so beautiful region of Abitibi-Témiscamingue.  You will discover wonderful and very well groomed trails.  No need to be an experienced snowmobiler to ride in this nice region of the Province of Québec.  Make sure to get the regional trail map and have fun  preparing your itinerary.
Have a great season !

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