The adventure begins : Tuesday, February 14th 2012
At last, we were about to leave; at 9 a.m., the thermometer was indicating -20o C. As the Abitibi climate is rather dry, -20o C here is not felt as cold as -20o C in humid regions.
We met our guide, Mr Nelson Laflamme, near our hotel room. The snowmobile trail crosses the hotel backyard and gives access to many destinations. Also, you may park your snowmobile trailer right at the Confortel Hotel during all your trip at no charge; your vehicle and trailer are safe there.
Val-d’Or to Rouyn-Noranda : about 193 km
I saw right away that the trail had been groomed during the night. After 5 kilometers, our guide stopped at the Cité de l’Or, an historic site and a museum managed by the Village minier de Bourlamaque. Nelson wanted to show me a mine shaft, the old-mine Lamaque. Here, visitors can discover a gold mine as it was in the 20’s, without the technology of today. Please note that the City of Val-d’Or offers an urban access to snowmobiles.
After a little chat and many photos, the adventure continued. We bypassed Val-d’Or riding on abandoned old-mine sites, a rather sad view, but we were enjoying outstanding snowmobile trails. Passed the airport, we arrived in the undergrowth. At the corner of regional trails 83 and 309, Nelson told me that trail 309 brings you to Rapide-Sept Outfitter and that it is the shorter trail to reach the Témiscamingue area in the same day.
On the first stage of our tour, we had the chance to ride close to Osisko Mining, the Canada’s largest open-pit gold mine located in the city of Malartic. Nelson told me that part of the city has been expropriated for that mining site.
A few kilometers away, we reached the intersection of provincial trail 83 towards Rouyn-Noranda and regional trail 307 towards Amos. There was a typical small chalet right there so that snowmobilers can get in and warm up. Then, we went on snowmobiling towards Preissac; we had lunch in this village at the Manoir des Rapides. Mrs Annette Thibault, the owner, told me that without the snowmobiling tourism, the Manoir would be closed during winter. Thanks to snowmobiling, many workers keep their job all year long. Economical impacts of snowmobiling in Abitibi-Témiscamingue are about 50 billions $ during the season.
After a great meal, I realized an interview with Nelson using my new GoPro camera; I am sure you will be impressed when you see my coverage. When Nelson was talking about his commitment to snowmobiling, I could feel his passion for this sport. His eyes were sparkling when he was proudly presenting his region.
We left for the final stage of our tour right after the interview. We saw absolutely breathtaking trails and scenery with many lakes and rivers. It was wonderful to ride on these snowmobile highways for so many kilometers in outstanding conditions, up to the Alpin Motel in Rouyn-Noranda where our day ended.
The morning after, we met again for the next stage of our snowmobile tour in the White Gold Country.