Matt and I had been talking about a short spring trip ever since our trip to Border Beacon last year. Somewhere in the same general area, leaving from Churchill Falls, which is halfway between us, and heading off to somewhere few people venture. We wanted somewhere of the beaten path, hard enough to get to that we’d actually have to work to get there.
Then, about a week or so before my holidays, I sold my Expedition. I had been planning on putting it for sale in the fall, so when a friend said he was looking for a reliable sled to take to the coast, I said “have I got the sled for you”. Unfortunately, he wanted to be able to ride the sled up there this spring. That meant I would’t have the Expedition for my spring trip.
I did, however, have my project sled, the 2002 Bearcat. I’d spent a long time bringing that thing back from the dead, but I’d hardly used it since calling it “finished” a few months before. There were bound to be issues with it, and I told Matt that if we got down in the Kanairitok valley and the sled died, we’d have to burn it where it was. So we talked about a few areas that would be a bit more manageable, and we decided on just sticking to Orma Lake Road. We’d go up one day, hunt the next, and return on the third day.
Well, on an old sled that was repaired but not restored, going 180km north of the nearest town is still quite the adventure, there’s no doubt.
On Friday morning we both drove to Churchill Falls and met up at the gas station. The weather was not looking good, with high winds and snow, so we parked behind the hotel to try and get some shelter while we loaded up.
Once we got underway I started to find some bugs in my Bearcat project sled. The snow was deep, and we were breaking trail up Orma Lake Road. The Bearcat started dropping a cylinder and running rough. We stopped to investigate and found that it was shorting out through the plug caps. We gave them a squeeze with the pliers and tapped them up good.
That helped, and we moved on, only for Matt’s sled to start acting up as well, losing power and running poorly.
Things were looking bleak, but we pushed on, secure in the knowledge that there were several places we could get out of the weather if need be.
We got a little worried at one point when we pulled in to one of our planned stops in an open area, the wind blowing especially hard, both machines acting up, and the snow so deep we could barely get over to the cabin. Matt went inside only to discover that a bear had been through it the previous year, and it wasn’t fit to have lunch in, much less stop at. After several stucks we managed to get out of there and started heading north again.
As we moved into more open country the hills got higher and the drifts got bigger, so in a couple of places we dropped sleighs to break trail.
Because my machine was running so poorly, and working hard in the deep snow, I ended up running out of gas after only 85km. Yikes! I dumped in 20 liters, and we continued on, eventually arriving at camp where we cooked supper and settled in to an early evening.
Saturday morning the weather was much improved and we headed out hunting.
Matt taking a shot.
Lots and lots of snow.
Getting a bit of water for lunch.
Riding along a dyke at the north end of the Smallwood reservoir. This is as far north as the road goes, and it was where we were turning around. My chain had started skipping, and I was getting a bit worried about breaking down this far from the cabin.
In addition, we weren’t seeing a lot of birds. I don’t think I’d gotten more than a dozen all day. But the weather was nice, the scenery was great, and we were having a good time, and that’s what matters.
On the way back to the cabin there was a hill top I wanted to check out for a view.
This hill top gives you a 360 degree view for kilometers on end, and I’m sure would’ve been an important point for travelers before the advent of GPS navigation.
Not long after that we were back at the cabin. We got a bit of wood cut to restock the wood box and made some supper.
The next morning we were in no rush to see the trip come to an end, but we eventually started heading south back to town.
The wind had finally died down, it was nice and warm, and other than my chain skipping REALLY badly now, it promised to be a nice day for a ride.
Loaded up and ready to go.
No shortage of drifts across the road.
We may not have explored any new territory this trip, but all things considered, it was one of the more adventurous trips I was ever on. Was a really good way to spend the last weekend of Easter holidays.
Once I got back home I replaced the spark plug caps and the drive chain, and then used the Bearcat for a few weeks of going to the cabin. I was really loving it, and actually pulled the for sale sign off, intending to keep it, when I got a message wondering if it was still available. The guy was willing to give me my full asking price, so I had to let it go.
I’m going to miss it.