If you are looking for an incredible snowmobile riding trip, read the following story highlighting each day of Carole Fisher's trip, and start planning because it doesn't get any better!
Day 1- March 13, 2018 Point a la Croix to Rimouski, Quebec
We trucked our sleds up on Monday afternoon from Nova Scotia, checked into our hotel, then went for supper with big smiles on our faces looking forward to the adventures ahead of us on this trip. My husband Adam and I are enjoying this week-long trip on our snowmobiles with Jason and Jarrett Crowell. They are great friends of ours who we consider to be part of our sled family. We finished packing our bags, trying to make room for what we felt we needed for seven days away on the sleds. Lucky for me, Jason and Jarrett had a little extra room for a few of my items. Adam carried his gear in a backpack, the rest of us had saddle bags and tunnel bags on our sleds. They are calling for a Nor Easter in Northern New Brunswick, NS and parts of Quebec. Maine is expecting 18-25 inches!
Our first 50 miles we sledded in heavy snow dust and mist that instantly froze on my helmet visor. I had to use a goggle wiper blade every other minute to keep my visibility somewhat clear. Eventually, it cleared with clouds and a little sunshine, and we were able to stay ahead of the storm on our 270 km trek to Rimouski, Quebec. Trails were great! Freshly groomed in most areas. We had a few km of choppy trails, but nothing to complain about. I had my DSG base and mid layer on which kept me nice and warm, as well as my Tek vest and DSG Arctic Appeal jacket. I also love wearing my DSG balaclava, it is so cozy on my skin.
After seven hours on the trails, we arrived at Rimouski Hotel. As we got closer to our destination, we had to sled through the town. The trails were bare and there were a lot of curbs we had to jump to cross roads. I wasn’t successful at this, causing my sled to get hung up with traffic behind me or to my left wanting to get out on the street. A little stressful, but I did a little wiggling to shake my sled, and eventually got up over the curbs to continue on the route. The pavement is hard on my runners, wishing I had my wheels I used on my Arctic Cat XF. It makes it so much easier when you have to run in towns or down pavement! This will be my next purchase for my new Skidoo 850 Backcountry. Once we arrived, I headed for the hot tub to rest my body after a long day of racking on miles. Tomorrow the storm is hitting hard, we hope to avoid it to head into Riviere Du Loup Quebec, 270 km.
Day 2. March 14, Rimouski to Riviere Du Loup, Quebec
Conditions were freezing rain in the morning, and very windy. I was fatiguing fighting the wind on open trails crossing fields, and had to wipe my visor every minute for most of the morning to keep visibility. Having a wiper on your mitts is such a valuable asset when you are riding in conditions like this.
In every community throughout Quebec, their focal point was their church. You saw it as you came down off the mountain trails into the communities we sledded into for fuel or food.
We stopped at a nice small restaurant in Squatec, where they were cooking yummy burgers we all ordered. The snow was falling outside and the wind was picking up. After we got warmed up and full bellies, we hit the trail again.
Today we traveled 272 km. We stopped at Rivier du Loop Snowmobile club on our way to the hotel. At this point, we were only 10 km outside the town. It was getting dark, but thought we had time. As always, this is when you underestimate your distance and confirm once again the importance of arriving at your destination before dark.
We got lost finding the hotel as the signage was not the best and the darkness made it hard to find the trail we needed to get there. We left the snowmobile club shorty after 6 p.m., but didn’t arrive until 8:40 p.m. to our hotel. I was getting very tired at this point, but glad it was not cold and a beautiful night to be out sledding. We took a wrong trail that caused us to get our sleds turned around. The snow was very deep and I knew at this point I needed to be on one side of my sled to pull it around. I was lazy and tired, and avoided doing this, which caused me to get my sled stuck in very deep powder. I sat there and waited for Adam, Jarrett and Jason to arrive to help me out. Jarrett loved the adventure of me getting stuck, I was glad he still had lots of energy left. The hotel we picked to stay at told us we could arrive there on sleds, but unfortunately that was not the truth. We had to do a lot of road running on pavement to cross the overpass to get to the Quality Inn in Riviere Du Loop. Once we arrived, Jarrett, Adam and I headed to the hot tub to relax our tired bodies, then ordered pizza and went to bed.
Day 3, 160 km, March 15- Riviere Du Loup to Peneamagohook, Quebec
Today, we didn’t have to travel as far to our next destination. After breakfast, we hit the trails, finding over two feet of fresh powder on trails that had not been groomed yet. We found a nice little warming hut that we stopped at to have a bite to eat from our sled lunch can. It also had indoor plumbing that I took advantage of. Being the only girl on the trail, using the washroom was not as convenient as it is for a guy. I started to laugh at the steps I needed to remember with all the layers I had on. Pull up your DSG base layer pants, pull down your DSG sub polar base layer top, pull up your DSG Subpolar mid layer pants, pull down your DSG mid layer jacket, pull up your DSG snowmobile pants, put on your DSG tekvest, zipper it up, put on your DSG Arctic Appeal jacket, put your DSG balaclava back on, zip up your jacket, then put your helmet on. This is a work out of its own! As you can image, I tried not to drink too much water on trails until I got to a restroom.
We found our hotel in the afternoon, dropped our gear bags and went back out sledding until supper time. We raced on the lake for a bit. When I went by Adam on my Skidoo 850 he had to return the favor to me - blowing by me on his Apex which made him blow his belt! It didn’t take long to change it out and at least it happened while we were playing instead of out on the trails.
We arrived back for supper early to relax and enjoy each others company. They did not speak a lot of English at this location in Peneamagohook and translating French was a challenge at times. I enjoyed trying to communicate with them to ask questions or help the waitress out to understand what we wanted to order. Kindness and a smile is accepted in all languages.
Day 4, March 16- Peneamagohook, Quebec to Shin Pond, Maine, USA
Big day today! 400 km from Penamagohook, Quebec to Shin Pond, Maine, USA. We left early on the trails for Fort Kent to catch the border crossing. As I was sledding early, enjoying the sun and waking up to the crisp snow, it reminds me to enjoy the simple beauty Mother Nature shares with us. The trees were blanketed with three inches of snow, we moved quickly over rolling hills and trails, enjoying butterflies in my stomach in the early morning. It isn’t hard to be smiling in my helmet enjoying the beautiful winter morning.
As we traveled on the 35 trail towards Fort Kent we sledded through Saint Louie du HaHa, to find a Skidoo dealer where we refilled our oil on the sleds and purchased more to have on the trail. This is when we realized we had been traveling in the wrong direction from where we needed to go. Finding oil was a bonus after we realized the amount of trail running we needed to do to get across the border. After running through remote backcountry in Quebec and New Brunswick, where a recent Nor’ Easter storm just dropped over 22 inches of fresh, heavy snow, we were grateful the groomer had busted the trail out. We eventually got close to Claire, NB to find the trail leading to the USA border crossing into Fort Kent, Maine.
We got across to get some fuel, but quickly continued along our route. At this point, we still had 200 miles to run and it was 1:30 in the afternoon. We kept the throttle down, running hard down the ITS85 trail and making good time, all four of us ran great together. This is the only part of our trip that we met a lot of sleds leaving Fort Kent. We stopped only for fuel and a quick snack on the trail from our sled lunch can. We were glad we had beef jerky, granola bars, water and chocolate packed to keep energy in our bodies for this endurance run.
When you have lots of time in your helmet you pay attention to your thoughts. As we rode across Quebec and New Brunswick in the backwoods it made me feel like we were riding in the Wild West back in the day, only our horsepower is a little different! Most of the 85 South trail from Fort Kent to Portage and on to Shin Pond was all deep in the woods. I kept mindful if we got hurt on the trails or broke down, help was not close by. 400 km (250 miles) later, we arrived at sundown to Mt. Chase Lodge, where we were greeted by a young lady happy to see we found our accommodations. She sent us upstairs to our room to settle in and then to join them for a delicious home-cooked meal. It certainly hit the spot after a long day of riding. We were very hungry and tired, but thankful for warm accommodations and yummy supper with a glass of wine, relaxing by the wood fire with other sledders staying for the night from Massachusetts and Maine.
Day 5, March 17 - Shin Pond to Millinocket, then on to Houlton, Maine
We started our day with a cold morning at -11. We left Mt. Chase Lodge on the trails to head to Millinocket, where the mountain range is. It was a lot of trail riding deep in the woods until we finally found the mountains at Baxter National Park. The clouds were still covering the mountains, but the sun was shining bright. It is such a great feeling to be on the trails in the morning, enjoying the firm crisp snow and sun glistening through the hardwood trees.
Because we decided to travel down to Millinocket, we had to put miles on to get back up to our destination where we were staying for the night in Houlton, Maine. We stopped for fuel a few times and finally found a little restaurant in Sherman where we enjoyed local snowmobilers asking where we were from and amazed we were doing this epic trip together. They had lots of questions - wondering how we were making out, but one guy asked me if I was having any trouble keeping up while he looked at the guys. The boys confirmed, “Don’t worry about Carole, she’s got no problem keeping up, she a trooper!”
As we got closer to Houlton, we were running short of oil for our Skidoos. This is when I am missing my 4-stroke where you didn’t worry about oil. Adam reminded us occasionally of how well he enjoys his 4-stroke. We reminded him how often he needed to use our gas we were carrying for emergencies. The new 850s are great on fuel. We realized we should have filled one of our spare gas cans with oil instead of all three of us carrying fuel. Good reminder for our next adventure.
The sun was starting to go down, we continued to head on the ITS83 North, but didn’t see signs for our hotel. A lot of wind was blowing hard when we came out of trails in the woods onto open fields or road crossings. Adam stopped two young sledders asking if they knew where the Shiretown Inn was in Houlton. He waved to us saying follow me, the two of them hammered down as we quickly stayed with them. Sfter 15 miles of rolling through the trails and the town they took us right to the door. A smile was on my face after putting on another 300 km (200 miles). We got there before dark, I was cold and tired, and grateful to the young boys. We gave a big wave and smile, thanking them. Jarrett Crowell from NSYS (Nova Scotia Youth Snowmobilers) really enjoyed running with them, he said, “Those are the boys I like to roll with.” All the more reason we should all encourage and support younger kids in snowmobiling. It made me smile knowing they were helping us out finding our location for the night. It was obvious those trails were their backyard play area, as they knew them well.
We got to our hotel on St. Patrick’s Day, Saturday night, ordered pizza to our room, enjoyed a few drinks and then crashed before midnight to rest up for another day exploring on Maine trails.
Day 6 - March 18 Houlton to Madawaska, Maine
We were facing another cold morning on the trails. The wind was blowing hard, making the temperature even colder. We grabbed breakfast at the local Tim Hortons before hitting the trails. At this point, we needed to fuel up and find more oil for our sleds. We pulled into a gas station not far from Houlton where we were able to get gas, but the store was closed for any other services. We continued on the ITS 83 North, working our way on the railbed towards Fairfield. We stopped here for a yummy lunch and chatted with other sledders. I was very grateful I had all my DSG gear on to keep me warm and dry. The wind blew hard at times while we crossed a lot of potato fields and road crossings. It was a challenge to hold on tight to my handlebars. My helmet would whip in the wind, but my DSG jacket, base layer, mid layer and Tek vest did a great job blocking the wind - I was not cold at all.
I really am glad I had ordered the DSG Wigwam socks for this trip. My feet get very cold most of the time due to poor circulation. I have an aortic aneurysm and a bicuspid heart valve, as well as fibromyalgia. With these health challenges, I must work extra hard to keep warm and not get overly tired. I finally found if I wear a thin pair of socks, add toe warmers to these, then wear my DSG Wigwam socks over them and wear well -nsulated boots, such as the DSG Rime boots, my feet stay very warm and dry for long days on the trails. Knowing I have this ticking time bomb inside of me that I must be extra cautious about gives me a sense of additional safety wearing my DSG Tek vest if I ever have an impact to my chest. This allows me to still enjoy the sport I am so passionate about without it limiting my opportunities in life. I know when I get stuck I must wait to have someone help me with lifting the sled or pulling on the skis. I am lucky to have a wonderful group of sled friends that are always there to help me out. It also keeps my driving skills to be the best I can to avoid getting stuck so I work extra hard at this!
We traveled the USA and Canada international border trail on our way to Long Lake. I absolutely love this trail for riding. You can weave back and forth between the two countries, and it has deep, rolling hills as far as the eye can see. Of course, you are being watched by border security the whole time you are on the trails, so you don’t want to fool around too much. We stopped for a few pictures, then continued on our way to Van Buren to fill up our sleds again and to find oil. We got topped up and kept rolling along to Long Lake. When I stop at the rural country stores that still serve gas, grocery and hardware items in Maine and Quebec, it reminds me of how much of rural Nova Scotia has been lost. We no longer have this service in our small communities employing families and locals. Small businesses have been forced to close their doors to the bigger retail chains in local towns.
We rolled into Long Lake Sporting Lodge to witness the World Record breaking ice carousel local people were attempting to beat. It was very cold here with the wind blowing hard. Unfortunately, due to the colder weather, it made it difficult for them to get the ice to turn. Volunteers work hard at this all weekend, but the ice kept freezing as they cut the circle out. Adam and Jason wanted to give a hand to help out, so Jarrett and I went inside to enjoy a delicious cup of hot chocolate together. This is one of my favorite spots to enjoy while sledding in Aroostook County.
I was looking forward to heading to Madawaska, Maine to catch up with former DSG Ambassador Denise Duperre. She once again kindly invited Adam and myself along with Jarrett and Jason to stay the night at their house while we were enjoying the amazing trails in Maine. Denise and Bob welcomed us to their home with a delicious home-cooked meal, which sure hit the spot after being out in the cold all day and putting on another 285 km of sledding. In my opinion, the best trails are in Aroostook County. There is so much more to see and do in this area for sightseeing and socializing. We enjoyed a relaxing evening with Bob and Denise. Again, I am so thankful and grateful for DSG who believes in me and other lady sledders throughout North America, and to represent them as a DSG Ambassador. We have a wonderful family who supports, encourages and welcomes each other into their lives. Without DSG, I would never have become friends with Denise.
Day 7 - Madawaska, Maine to Campbellton, New Brunswick, Canada
Our last day of riding was ahead of us, and we got suited up after enjoying a coffee and comfortable accommodations at Denise’s to hit the trail one last time. This was our coldest morning yet and the wind was howling a lot outside. We held off heading out until it died down some, but needed to get going. We stopped at another little country store near Hamlin to fill up for gas before we hit the trails. We decided to cross the border in Hamlin, USA to enter Canada in Grand Falls, NB. I highly recommend this border crossing as you avoid running bridges and roads. The trail runs alongside the Canada border entrance. We pulled in here to declare our purchases and show our passports, then returned to the trail to enter Canada. We stopped for a late breakfast/early lunch at the Irving Big Stop in Grand Falls.
After running 120 km already, we still had another 200 km to go to Campbellton. Luckily, this was easy sledding. It is all rail bed that runs through communities and along the Restigouche River area. The trails were 100 percent, and we only met six or seven sleds all day. When you run this trail you can really squeeze the throttle - sometimes we were going 100 miles an hour. Most of the day we average 50-70 miles an hour. It was another long day on the trails, we found our hotel at dusk, got our gear off, then headed for supper and of to bed.
Adam and Jason got up early in the morning to drive to Point a la Croix, Quebec to pick up our truck and trailer on the other side of the river where we started on March 13. A kind gentleman that works at the Quality Inn in Campbellton, New Brunswick offered to run them over in his vehicle to save them going in a cab. We really appreciated their hospitality they offered here.
After seven days of being on my sled traveling through Quebec, Maine and New Brunswick, two provinces, two countries and one state, we put on 2050 km. We were lucky to not have any mechanical issues, wonderful trails and stayed at great locations for sledders to enjoy. I was so proud of Jarrett, who is a member of the NSYS (Nova Scotia Youth Snowmobilers.) His riding capabilities are amazing for a 16-year-old. I mainly followed him throughout our trip. Jarrett always gave me warning of any dangers on the trails, oncoming sleds and checked consistently to make sure I was still behind him. When he didn’t notice me, he would turn around to find us, checking to see everything was okay. I have sledded with Jarrett many times across Atlantic Canada, and I can’t wait until we all get to go sledding again on our next adventure. The four of us had a lot of great laughs on the trails and many stories to tell for years to come.
Nova Scotia, Canada