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markusvt

February 5, 2015 Havre-St-Pierre

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Wednesday, 2/4/2015

After many days, I mean hours of careful planning, (OK, maybe not that many hours) and a few phone calls Jay, Randy, Greg and myself pulled the trigger and headed north to Forestville. With our usual luck it snowed the whole way up, yuck. We want fresh snow only at night, (while we sleep). We saw lots of snowplows, lots of cars off the road, danger, danger, danger, perfect J

This was the first time we took the Tadoussac ferry by car, (it runs 24x7). It was a bit warmer for sure and no nasty carbide cheese grater sound and smell. It does appear that the speed limit does not apply to the tandem tractor trailers on the 138. Talk about fast! These dudes are crazy. We arrived in 1 piece thanks to the awesome driving skills of the A team pilots. We checked in and Goodnight, Irene Goodnight.

Thursday, 2/5/2015. 244 miles

We woke up to see the snow had stopped falling finally. It was below zero, but close to 6-8 fresh inches here at the EconoLodge. After a super nice breakfast then we suited up to go out and unload the machines. We left a bit after 8:30, and at 11:15 and 100 miles later we were in Bae Comeau for lunch. Really nice trails. We stopped and took a few pictures at the suspension bridge first. I wonder why it is always windy and FREEZING cold at that bridge, what are the odds?

We had an awesome buffet lunch at Marco’s Pizza and headed out. The next 60 miles to Godbout are very roller coaster, not as bad as Roberval to Relay 22, but kind of the same. The snow got deeper, maybe 8-10 inches now and we were first tracks on most of it. We went to the water’s edge in Godbout, took a few pictures and headed out. We got gas with 85 miles on the tank, (there was another option at 105 on the tank).

We stopped in the town of Rivière-Pentecôte looking for lodging options for the return trip. The map shows there is something here somewhere. We found ice, water, sea-gulls a campground and not much else. It was very pretty and worth the trip to the water’s edge but not much else there.

After this the trail really opened up. I would say we were pushing 12-14 inches of new snow now. Lots of big power lines up here and it was super, super fun.

We arrived in Port Cartier at 4:30 at the Le Q'artier Hotel with 244 miles on the clock. It is nicely renovated and very clean. The locals are very friendly here. The vice-president of the club stopped in the parking lot to visit. He was very eager to hear where we were from and how the trails were and we gave the cold hard truth, thumbs up all the way baby!

We unloaded into the room and hailed a taxi to the local restaurant. In a town of 7000 people you don’t get a lot of choices. The restaurant was awesome, again very friendly folks and delicious food.

Back to the hotel by 7:30, and the team is crashing fast J

Again the GPS’s saved the day several times today. The signing was getting minimal and you don’t want to go the wrong way.

We passed 2 sleds going our way, and 7 coming at us ALL DAY. We passed 3 groomers out along the way, (we like these numbers).

Free Quebec week-end we are told, somehow I don’t think it will affect us here. J

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Edited by markusvt

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Nice Mark.

Love it up there on that end of the world. Great stuff.

Say hi to the gang from me.

Enjoy it I know you will.

Man that's the way to do it. Dropping in at Forrestville. I love it.

Smart guys.

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Great report Mark & Co. Did you stop to see Manic-5? It has the most concrete I've ever seen other than the Hoover dam. Have a fun, safe trip & thanks for sharing.

Tom

Edited by Florida Snowman

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Very neat ride going east, went as far east to Bae Comeau which is the most east I have been, took the ferry in Tadoussac and never say this before the ferry came across sideways due the high winds, wish I had pictures of that words cannot describe. Have fun.

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Friday, 2/6/2015, 234 miles

We talked about pulling cords at 7:00. But since it was below zero and none of the sleds have cords anyways we opted for breakfast at 7:00 instead. The hotel provided a continental breakfast with the room so we went for it. Over breakfast we chatted we 2 guys also going to Havre-St-Pierre, They left a bit before us so we will meet them again I am sure.

We gassed them and were on the trails by 8:10. The 60 miles to Sept-Iles was very nice and very fast. We were there by 9:30. There are 2 gas options in town that we could use and both were on feeder trails. We took the second at 65 miles on the tank and were back on the trail by 10:00.

We headed out of Sept-Iles and the trail starting getting a bit hard to follow as expected. After 15 miles we caught and passed the breakfast guys. It appeared the groomer had groomed this at some point this year, but it was hard to follow. In 10 more miles the trail completely disappeared. No markings, no tracks, nothing. We used the GPS and picked our way to a rivers edge and stopped to regroup.

After 5 minutes or so the breakfast guys caught up following our tracks. We decided to press on, and they called it, way more adventure than they wanted for the day so they turned back 45 miles out of Sept-Iles,( Heck the adventure was just starting)!

The next 40 miles we were the only tracks on most of it. No groomer had been through this year or maybe ever. We had to stop a fair amount and get our bearings as this is no place to get to far off the intended route. One river crossing had us stumped for a bit but we got it. The signing was almost nonexistent and without a good working knowledge of GPS use and a bit of adventure there is no way we could have made it. Often we were pushing our way through 2-3-4 feet of snow. The drifts were huge in places and you were never really sure you were on the trail.

65 miles out of Sept-Iles, (25000 people) we met a groomer coming at us with no drag. He was busting down the powder. For sure this was his first time out. Riding on his tracks was way harder than just making our own. 5 more miles we met another groomer coming at us again with no drag also. He was offset 1 track to make the trail wider. This made it even harder to ride. We had to ride 35 miles of this to get to gas and lunch. We got gas with 100 miles on the tank and it was 3:00. Very slow going, but we were going. Zero sleds anywhere.

We headed out at 4:15PM and still had 65 miles to go according to the GPS. Now the next 20 miles or so had a fresh groomer on it and it was pretty darn nice. The 20 after that had a groomer on it sometime before the last foot of snow so it was easy to follow. 23 miles before town we lost the trail again. Back to full on GPS and pushing a ton of snow. The last 15 miles were actually staked well and brought us right into town literally. The trail ended at the end of a street with no signs to gas, food, lodging nothing.

We found the gas and with the help of a nice lady on the corner we found the hotel. We arrived Havre-Saint-Pierre at 6:15PM with 234 miles on the clock.

We had a nice dinner at Restaurant Julie and called it a night. We asked our server if she gets many Americans on snowmobiles, she said never. She told us the town is 3500 people, and after the 4th village east, all the villages are English speaking due to the Newfoundland influence, interesting.

-8F when we arrived, -13F at bedtime and supposed to be -21F at breakfast,

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Edited by markusvt

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Way to go Mark and crew. Need to stick with it there's proof right here. Both times we tried to go past Sept isles it was the same deal losing the trail 30-4o miles out it just disappeared.

You guys rock. Nice job.

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Keep going! "Life is and Adventure, Live the Adventure"!! When a person slows down and uses their GPS it is amazing how much information can off them to help when the trail is not apparent. Good Luck

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Congratulations on making it that far east. That is definitely a challenging ride.

We made it back on February 21, 2005. We had 2 Canadian couples from Quebec City riding 2 up that we were with. We were told they only groom to the dam which is about 25 miles east of Sept Iles. After that we managed to follow sticks with ribbons on them that passed for trail markers when there were any. This was before the days of GPS and being a good Indian scout was essential.

Having someone speak French was a great help in getting along too. It was cold and one of the Frenchmen asked a hotel along the route to open so we could get lunch and warm up. We stayed overnight in Havre St. Pierre and took the first ever taxi ride in town to a local restaurant. This happened to be the first night for the taxi. Another memorable thing was how black the sky is there, very little light pollution.

The two Canadian ladies took the bus back to Sept Iles. We continued back to Sept Iles on the sleds. It was an adventure that we are glad we did, but we don't need to do it again. However, everyone should try it once.

Jack & Sandi

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Saturday, February 07, 2015, 165 miles.

Nice day today. We left at -18F. Only breakfast in town is at Tim Horton’s, so we loaded and off we went. It’s hard not to like Tim Horton’s with $4.99 breakfast sandwiches, $1.29 muffins, juice, coffee and tea. Out of there for $7 is not bad. No real signing in town but we passed it yesterday so it was fairly easy to find.

We were on the trail by 8:30, and off to Rivière-au-Tonnerre for gas. This first 65 miles there is pretty well marked, and they look like they take good care of the grooming. We still had the little hick-up 23 miles out of town but it the daylight it was so much easier. In the daylight we could see there is gas on the trail at 25 miles out, and again on a side trail at 35 miles out but we did not stop as it would not help us.

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We arrived in Rivière-au-Tonnerre, (Thunder River) at 10:45 for gas. You have to get gas here as next gas is 100 miles more, and it is off a very short side trail with no markings. We gassed up, had a cookie and a soda and were back on the trail at 11:15. 1 gas, 1 motel and 1 store in town so it makes the choices really simple.

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The next 15 miles were groomed, and then we were back on the packed only trails for 30 miles, (they had gone 20 miles into our single track). But overnight the groomers tracked it again, so it was way better and now ready for the drag. I am sure tomorrow it will be perfect. Now the next 20 miles was the entire single track trail we broke but it was a bunch easier with our own track to follow. We are told this section is maintained by a 1 member club, and the fact it remains open is a miracle. I really don’t think it can be groomed, but maybe……

The remaining 35 miles into Sept-Iles was AWESOME. The groomers had been hard at work all night and had everything groomed both ways! Wow, really, really nice. We had a few sled icing issues to deal with along the way but we still got into Sept-Iles at 3:00PM. We decided to stay for the night here over Port-Cartier and ended the day with 165 miles and a nice warm temperature of -2F.

We will pay for it tomorrow with a 290 mile day but this town is so nice we had to stay. We gassed up with 100 miles on the tank. Nice thing is on this trip we paid $1.06 - $1.09 a liter at every stop and no in the bush pricing.

We picked the Comfort Inn, very nice and free breakfast. We took the taxi to Le Cage aux Sports for dinner, we really like that place. It was a $10.50 taxi one way.

First part of our trip tomorrow will be 60 miles of very high speed power lines into Port-Cartier.

-24F at bedtime though the forecast says -18F in the morning.


You were so right!

Well nice going ! Three Groomers things may just be all groomed on your return trip.

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Edited by markusvt

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290 will be like a dream compared to hunting trail using the GPS. And in the dark.

One of my favorite runs from Sept Isles to Port Cartier. And vice versa. Ripping fast trail.

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Sunday, 2/8/2015, 285 miles

It was very cold this morning but thankfully we had no issues in starting the sleds. Sept-Îles is a nice town to stay and for most folks this would be the furthest east you should go. There are nice hotels and plenty of eating options, all of the modern amenities. We left at 7:48A and were getting gas in Port-Cartier at 8:40AM. This run (Iceman Express) was fresh groomed in both directions last night and was very fast. Actually the first 105 miles out of the hotel we were first tracks on it and no sleds in sight.

We got second gas again in at the station 30 miles north of Godbout. You have to get gas here. Coming into Godbout there are some nice views of the water. We stopped and took a few pictures. The 60 mile roller coaster ride into Bae Comeau, (Bills Nemesis) had seen some traffic over the week-end but it was still very nice you just have to take it easy. Your arms will get a workout for sure.

We arrived in Bae Comeau at 12:30 with 185 miles on so far. This is another big town with tons of options. There were lots of locals out enjoying the sunshine and the trails were very nice. We gassed and ate at the local Subway and were back on the trail by 1:00PM. On the longest suspension bridge they had put down plastic guides to protect the wood from carbide from one end to the other, we did not notice this last year.

Most of the next 100 miles into Forestville is pretty fast running and we were at the truck at 3:20PM with 285 miles on for the day.

We loaded the sleds, gassed the trucks and were on the road by 4:00PM, destinations home.

All in all it was a very fun adventurous trip with 928 miles on the clock. We had wanted to try this for awhile and we had the right guys for the trip. I am thinking in another week it should all be pretty close to stitched together. I would not do it without a GPS but I think only the middle 20 miles would be an issue. We passed a few bundles of red stakes and signs spaced out over the area hidden beside the trail in the fall, (they could have been there for years we don't know). If they put those out all will be good I think. Next time we would push it and go late February or early March.

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It is obvious the season goes late here.

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Edited by markusvt

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Glad you you guys got to experience the North there. Nice area.

Great run.

For sure this is an area rideable well into late March even late April depending on how it goes.

Let me know when and if you are coming to Shawinigan.

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Nice tour Mark + crew :drinks: Was there last yr around this time. Made it just pass Mingan. Club houses are survival shacks out there. Trail was broken out, groomed, wind blown, but nothing what you guys had. That massive power line was tricky without stakes, just orange ribbons every once in awhile. Saw the piles of stakes on the ground also.

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Nice ride guys and a fantastic report Markusvt, furthest east I've been is Baie Comeau back in '99 and we had to be trailered in from Forestville, there was actually a shortage of snow that season.

Ride on guys

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Mark,

Just curious, could you have gone further east? Enough snow?

3 years ago three of us made it to Baie-Johan-Beetz before turning around.

I have a cote nord map that shows the trail goes to a place called Blanc-Sablon, which is about 400 miles east of Havre St Pierre.

We would like to finish that trip. Possibly this winter. There is not always enough snow to get there.

Al

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