Gold Rush Tour: Our Snowmobile Adventure
This year for our Valentine's anniversary, my husband and I and 4 friends enjoyed a 5-day 800-km Gold Rush Tour of the Timiskaming-Abitibi region by snowmobile. This part of northeastern Ontario lies between North Bay and Cochrane.
Everyone towed snow machines from home and gathered in New Liskeard on the shore of Lake Timiskaming, where we stayed overnight at the Waterfront Inn and parked our trucks and trailers for the duration of our snow adventure. As the photo above shows, we had our machines stationed right outside our patio doors. We had a lovely view of the lake, complete with dozens of fishing huts (some of which are shown below).
Our first day on the trails we rode from New Liskeard west to Gowganda. The weather was relatively mild and sunny and the trails were well groomed and smooth, so I was able to hold my camera in my bare hands and take a bit of video as we rode along. Usually it is too cold to do this, so it was a rare treat to be able to capture this footage to show you what trail riding is like.
Click on the picture below to view the 2-minute video:
We stopped at a trail bridge to take some scenic photos. Shown below is me walking out on the bridge and then a photo of the beautiful view of the frozen river. I think this will make a great painting.
In Gowganda we stayed at Auld Reekie Lodge, which was easy to find due to the trail signage, shown below. The Gold Rush Tour had excellent trail markings along the entire route, thanks to the dedicated volunteers who clear the trails and post signs like these every winter.
At Auld Reekie, the 6 of us shared a 3-bedroom lakefront cabin (shown below) and enjoyed a delicious pork schnitzel dinner and full breakfast in the main lodge.
The second day we snowmobiled from Gowganda to beyond Gogama. The weather was colder but riding conditions continued to be excellent and the scenery was fantastic.
Occasionally our group stopped on the trail to stretch our legs, bask in the winter wonderland scenery, and enjoy cups of hot chocolate and coffee from our thermoses. We carried trail food for snacks (such as trail mix, chocolate bars, cheese, water) and equipment for emergencies (saws, tow ropes, first aid kit, space blankets, cell phones, tools, etc). Snowmobile trips are more like safaris than road trips. Below is a photo of my husband and me on our snowmobile at one of our rest stops on the trail.
By late afternoon, we arrived at our next destination, the Tata Chika Pika Lake Lodge, where hosts Henri and Annie gave us a warm welcome. Our rooms in the 6-bedroom sleeping cabin (shown below) were spacious and warm.
Everyone enjoyed drinks and conversation at the bar in the main lodge before dinner (shown below).
The owners had mounted a magnificent 62"-wide moose rack (by comparison, I am 64" tall) above the field stone fireplace, shown below with me and my husband as we shared a laugh.
That evening we were served an awesome gourmet dinner of pork tenderloin with wild mushroom sauce, roasted organic carrots, twice-baked cheddar potatoes, and an old-fashioned Queen Elizabeth Cake for dessert. Beyond yummy. We had such an enjoyable stay at this lodge that my husband and I want to return in the summer with our travel trailer, to camp at their adjacent campground and do some exploring with our ATV and kayaks.
On the third day we headed for Timmins and stopped on a bridge above rapids at a control dam (shown below). There might be a painting subject or two here...
In Timmins, we stayed at Cedar Meadows Resort and Spa, which we have enjoyed many times in the past. We soaked in their outdoor hot tub and had an excellent chef-prepared dinner in their fine dining room. The 6 of us went on their afternoon elk-feeding wagon ride, which I describe in detail (including video) in my previous post Hand Feeding Elk in Northern Ontario. The photo below shows me feeding Rocky the bull elk, a gorgeous gentle creature.
On the fourth day we journeyed from Timmins to Kirkland Lake, again with excellent snow conditions. I must mention our memorable lunch stop at the Cosy Diner in Matheson. We had lunches at restaurants four times during our trip, and this one was the best of the best. My husband and I enjoyed home made hot roast turkey sandwiches, fresh cut fries and fresh made creamy coleslaw that were superb. If you ever find yourself going through Matheson, I highly recommend stopping at this diner.
That night we stayed at the luxurious new Microtel Inn which is accessible from the trail in Kirkland Lake, and some of us enjoyed the indoor pool and hot tub before a pizza-delivery dinner.
On day 5, we journeyed from Kirkland Lake back to New Liskeard. Below is a photo of me and my husband on our machine, which has a GPS navigation system, two gas tanks, and room for both of us plus 3 pieces of waterproof luggage. I ride on the very comfortable back seat which, along with my hand grips, helmet visor and underjacket, is heated electrically. Yes I'm spoiled.
Quite often during this trip, our route took us along hydro line right-of-ways, which provide convenient corridors through the forest and the opportunity to enjoy riding fast on swooping curves and hills (shown below). Woohoo!
We spent the final night at the Waterfront Inn in New Liskeard and drove home the next day. Our snowmobile adventure this year was easy and fun, and we very much enjoyed the camaraderie of our friends. We feel lucky to live where we easily can access world-class snowmobile trails for winter getaways.
Thank you to our friends Nancy, Rick, and Mike who contributed several of the photos in this article.
One of the excellent side benefits of these winter adventures is that I have access to gorgeous wilderness scenery, to take photos I can use for painting ideas. Shown below are a few of the paintings that resulted from years of snowmobile excursions. Click on the photos for more details about these pieces.
Frozen Two, watercolour 6 x 12"
Snow and Stone, watercolour 16 x 12"
Winter on Lake Kashwakamak, watercolour 11 x 14"
February Flow, watercolour 18 x 24"
Cabin in the Snow, watercolour 9 x 12"
Wild Wonders - Lynx, watercolour 22 x 15"
Fresh-Fallen Snow, watercolour 7 x 10"
February Farm, watercolour 5 x 15"
What do you do to enjoy the outdoors in winter? If you have comments you wish to share, please do so using the 'Leave a Comment' button at the top of this post.
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