Ontario Odyssey February 2006
Earlier this year, Jim and I learned about a snowmobile tour around Algonquin Provincial Park in Ontario, Canada covering 530 miles in 5 days. The ride is called the RAP ride (Round Algonguin Park). We decided that we could make the same trip on our own in 4 days. After watching the weather and reading the trail reports, we picked February 11 as the day to leave and head for the Katrine area of Ontario where we stayed with friends. Jim has been snowmobiling in Ontario before, but he had not taken this long ride. We had GPS and downloaded some way points off of DOOTalk.com forums to add to the software we had already. He also had some maps from a trip last year that we used to research and plan this ride. We did not make any reservations because we did not know how far we’d ride each day. We did have a list of places we had called to get basic information beforehand. The trail maps also provided lodging listings. Katrine is about 3 hours north of Toronto and about a 9-10 hour drive for us trailering our sleds. Katrine would serve as base camp for our RAP ride. The weather cooperated on travel day and we stopped so I could check out Niagara Falls for the first time. The next day, we hit the local trails after buying our seven day passes for $100 CA each. We had managed to ride 300 or so miles so far in the season. I ride a 2003 Ski-Doo Legend 500 and Jim has a 2006 Ski-Doo Renegade 600 HO SDI. This was my first time riding anywhere else besides NY and VT. I was amazed that we covered 68 miles in less than 3 hours on trails that were groomed and well marked. I also saw some sleds water skipping for the first time.
Monday February 13
We left around 9am and rode with friends for the first 20-30 miles before heading on by ourselves. We had lunch lakeside at Zachary’s in Dorset. We saw some more water skipping and the waitress said she can simple tell by the sound of the engine if a sled is going down. Gassed up in town before heading out. Encountered a variety of weather conditions: sun, clouds, flurries, snow and white outs. Crossed 2 lakes that were staked and on one lake, it was so snowy that you could barely see from one stake to another. Saw a dogsled on the hydro right-of-way in the actual Park. The majority of the ride goes around the Park except for one portion along the utility right-of-way. Found the only bad trail on the entire 530 mile trip on #62 that headed down to Kennisis Lake–it was all rollers. Made it to Whitney for the first night and stayed at the Algonquin Parkway Inn around 6pm. We won’t be staying there again because the only source of heat was a small ceramic space heater. Our first clue should have been when we called from the trail to reserve a room, they said they’d go turn on the heat. Power outlets were scarce in the room–had to unplug the lights and the TV to charge the batteries for the cell phones, GPS, cameras and communicators. We had dinner and breakfast the next morning at a Algonquin Lunch Bar across the street.
Total mileage for the day: 136
Tuesday February 14
Hit the trails around 9:30am. Had some clouds, snow and sun. The first 30 miles was totally flat and ran along a creek or river. Then the trail ran into the bush where we saw deer and a ton of birch trees. Got about 90 miles in by noon. However, Jim’s sled lost its lights and heated grips. Called a Ski-Doo dealer, Pete’s, from the trails and headed to Pembroke. They took the Rev right in and we were good to go after 1 hour. A wire had become frayed by rubbing which they replaced and wrapped in tape to prevent further fraying. Had a quick lunch at the gas station across the street while we waited. Fueled up there before continuing on. Pembroke was the first place we actually ran into some sled traffic. Once we got going again, did another 40 miles on excellent trails which took us through a military base. Called from the trail to reserve a place to stay at Morning Mist Resort in Stonecliffe. Arrived around 6pm and found a new 3 bedroom cabin for $100 CA. It was heated and spotless! We highly recommend this resort. http://www.morningmistresort.ca Dinner that evening was pizza delivered to the cabin. The resort had made arrangements for delivery with a restaurant in Deep River.
Total mileage for the day: 151
Wednesday February 15
Headed out by 9:30am towards North Bay. The weather included sun, clouds and heavy snow. We stopped for lunch in Mattawa at Valois’ Restaurant and Motel. We took a look at some of their rooms for future trips and found them to be acceptable. www.valoismotel.com I took Jim up on his offer to play in the powder with his sled. I promptly buried the Rev and he got to use the new shovel he bought after digging me out twice on another trip back home. Gassed up near Sarrazin’s Restaurant and Inn in Deux Rivieres. We spent the night at the North Bay Travelodge in a ground floor room where we parked the sleds right outside the door. Had dinner next door at Don Cherry’s. We monitored the weather which was calling for a winter storm the next day.
Total mileage for the day: 130
Thursday February 16
We had gassed up the night before near the motel and headed out before 9am after having a continental breakfast at the motel. The day was much colder due to the dampness. During a bit of road running, Jim lost some carbides on a bridge expansion joint. We saw about 10 dog sled teams on the trails outside of South River. We had lunch and got gas in South River. We stopped at the Ski-Doo dealer in Burk’s Falls, Stewart’s, to buy a set of carbides for Jim. Arrived back in Katrine by 4pm and avoided the storm. We paid by credit card for the entire RAP ride. The next time we will probably try to have a few Canadian dollars for smaller purchases. Except for the one trail on the first day, the trails were in awesome condition. We were never bored by the terrain: there was a good mix of flat running followed by a fun run thru the bush and vice versa plus roller coaster hills and lakes to run. The signage was excellent.
Total mileage for the day: 115 Total mileage for the RAP ride: 532
Friday February 17
The weather had changed dramatically and the temperature dropped to zero. We set out after breakfast with friends for a ride to see the nearby ice caves. On the way back, we stopped at the Kearney Canadian Legion Hall for hot chocolate and a bite to eat.
Total mileage for the day: 69
Saturday February 18
Jim and I went for a ride to a nearby look out. It was even colder than yesterday because of the windchill. We were lucky that it wasn’t this cold on the RAP ride. The trails were a bit beat as there was more traffic due to the weekend and many of the riders were riding the inside of the turns. We were glad we had done the bulk of our riding mid-week. We figure that we saw about 50 sleds on the RAP ride trails. At home, REV’s are the predominant sleds. We were surprised that Ski-Doo did not seem to be the most popular brand. We took our friends out to eat at a nearby lodge which is under new management and is suffering from growing pains. Plan on a long wait if you are going to dine at Pickerel Lake Lodge.
Total mileage for the day: 39 Total mileage for Ontario: 708
Sunday February 19
We returned to upstate New York where there is no snow. Here is the link to my online
album with the rest of the photographs: Click Here...
Donna and Jim