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neksledr

6 Day Run From Vermont to Lac St Jean and back

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Day 1 / Fri Feb 14th

Left home in Central VT at 5am and drove to camp in Averill VT where we met with two other couples, 6 of us total for this trip, 2 Doos and 4 Cats. On the sleds at 9am with a very chilly -11 starting temp. Crossed thru customs in Beecher Falls and headed north. Trails all groomed and stiff, the running is fast. Really enjoy running through the Eastern Townships as they do a great job with the trails, and traffic is non-existent. We run the 523 up past Sawyerville, then zip down the railbed where we catch 55. Again, super fast and set-up hard as concrete. While passing through Cookshire we are disappointed to see the little bar/restaurant as you cross rte 108 all boarded up, we have enjoyed stopping there over the years. We continue on the 55 to Weedon for fuel, warm-up and lunch at Restaurant Le Moulin. After the nice break we are now on the 65 nord and take this to the 540 headed towards Thetford Mines. Had to stop just outside Weedon and pick a baby deer out of the trail that somebody had obviously just clipped as she was still warm. Very sad, but set her on the snow bank out of the way, Mother nature was taking it from there. Lots of deer activity, so this stuff is bound to happen. The 540 took us around Thetford, up to the 35, and eventually the 75. Finished out the ride into Levis where we would spend the night at the Normandin. Arrived at 5pm and the temps never really gave us a break today, a shower and cocktail never felt so good! Over to the restaurant for dinner, decent food, but really poor service. While headed back to the rooms for the night had the pleasure of meeting Quebec Riders Andyman and SMclelan, they were in the middle of a 12 day run. Always great to meet fellow QR peeps. 211 miles for the day.

 

Day 2 / Sat Feb 15th

Woke up to another cold morning, but that would play out well as it should hold the trails a little longer on a weekend. Usually try to avoid being anywhere near QC on a weekend, but couldn't avoid this one. The Colibri shuttle was right on time at 7:45am, but would require 2 trips as our 6 sleds could not fit in one trip. That Suburban / trailer combo that gets us back and forth across the bridge is showing it's age, and is always an experience! The dashboard looks like a Christmas tree all lit up with all the lights that are on, and the drivers door wouldn't open so the driver has to crawl across and get out the passenger side. But......it's the only way I know to get across, so we just hang on! One little hiccup with my 900T......started and loaded up on the trailer with no problem, but when I went to unload on the other side everything was dead, had to push off the trailer. Was thinking maybe a frozen relay, but after messing with it for a while, it fired right up. Not sure what to think, but that was the only time on the entire trip that happened. The trails were again fast and flat and we headed east on the 3 up until the 369 north. A little rocky in the beginning, which was odd as the grooming map showed fresh groomed? We soon found out what was up as we came across a dead groomer in the trail. We navigated around it and soon were on groomed trails again. Had never been on this trail and after running through a lot of twisty wooded terrain, we opened up into a very fast, rolling run all the way to Letape, fun run indeed. Took fuel and lunch there and then proceeded on the 23 north. Almost immediately ran into a posse of Police set up just outside of Letape, had to be at least 20 of them, quite a sight! It was still so cold they just looked for our stickers and waved us on our way, no paperwork needed. The next 40 miles up to Mt Apica was pure heaven! Super wide, flat, and surprisingly, hardly a sled on it, seemed very strange being it was a Saturday. Quick stop then onward to the 368 (Bills Trail) heading towards the Delta. Again, trail was a 10, and perhaps a little to smooth as one of the girls and her Kitty missed a left turn and launched the bank and disappeared into the depths below. I was right behind her and witnessed the entire event, I didn't have a good feeling. Upon dismounting my sled and running in her direction I found her and the sled upside down in 5ft of powder, which was her saving grace. The track was spinning at about 75 mph as the the throttle was pressed against her as she was wedged under the sled. But.....she and the sled were untouched and neither had a scratch, very lucky lady. She did end up with about 8 more miles at the end of the day though! She was told she would have to explain to Bill later on in the evening about the Kitty Litter on his trail. Rest of the ride uneventful as we cut across on the 83 to the Delta for the evening. We were the last ones to fit in the sled corral, over 50 sleds and room for no more. That would prove fateful for a fellow Vermonter that we met as his sled was stolen that night from out front. They had thieves on camera at 3am hotwiring sled and making getaway. Very rare for sure in this area, but it happens. Great to see Bill and crew in the lobby. 225 miles for the day.

 

Days 3-6 to follow...

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  My guess is we passed you going the opposite direction Friday morning from Thetford mines to the border. Sounds like you had a good ride. We went from Tues thru Friday, Derby to St Marie- Riviere Du Loup- Thetford Mines- Derby. Great conditions.

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Day 3 / Sun Feb 16.           This was planned as a very light day at the girls request. Didn't fire sleds until around 10am and headed up to 93 via the 367 and westward to Saint Monique. Stopped on edge of lake for a bit to watch a guy doing some kite skiing with his dog trying to keep up. Looked fun but saw him wreck pretty good once. Topped off with fuel, and then backtracked a little to the 367 east and headed to relais du lacs for a break and a beer. Hit some total whiteout storms a few times, but would ride out of back into blue skies each time. Open fields had super high winds with lots of drifting. Looped back to the Delta for an easy day, just what the wife's were looking for.  Headed for the Castle in the morning.    155 miles

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Day 4 / Monday Feb 17.       This will be another quick run as our destination is Le Fairmont Richelieu , an easy run down the Claremont Express. Temps have plummeted again, and the wind is as Groomer would say 'windy like hell'! Before leaving the Delta, we run into the Gutz Bros saddling up for a ride, more QR peeps! Departure time not until around 9:30 and we jump on 83 and head south. We do slide off into St Felix to top off the tanks as the Cat crew that's riding with us would not be making the entire 135 mile trip on one tank. After fueling we continue on the express and it does not disappoint, a super quick run all the way to the Castle. We pull into the heated garage, drop our gear in our rooms, slip into bathing suits and head for the outside tubs. Can it get any better than this? We arrange for the door man to have fresh drinks sent poolside every 20 minutes, and he does not fail. After we are all prunelike, we shower and head to the casino for a little pre dinner blackjack. This trip just keeps on getting better as our dealer is rolling the cards in our favor! After a great dinner and stay, we all ended up being payed for our visit, gotta love casinos.

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Edited by neksledr

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1 hour ago, skidoo420 said:

Looks like you’re having a great time nice pics enjoy the nice weather good meeting you a couple of weeks ago 

We had a great time, nice meeting you as well!

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Day 5 / Tuesday Feb 18th

What was planned on being a pretty simple day changed considerably when Mother Nature and sled failure intervened. Planned on running down the 3 to catch the Colibri shuttle back to the south side, and then continue 52 miles south to a place we have never been to before, La cache a Maxime in Sainte-Marie. It all started out perfect enough with cool temps and fresh grooming. The 3 was fast and uncrowded all the way to our first break, Relais Le Michelieu. After a quick stop we continued on west and about the time we passed Relais Ste-Anne the snow started falling, and hard. Visibility deteriorated quickly as we got closer to the city. Took some fuel before we hit the Colibri and ended up arriving there around 2pm. When we asked for the shuttle, the bar tender (owner?) shook his head no and mentioned something in french that didn't sound positive! We had pre-planned this with them earlier in the trip, but now we were being told maybe no shuttle because of the bad road conditions. After a phone call was made, he said said shuttle would arrive in 20 minutes, phew! Our good tips for the ride over appear to have paid off. We sent the girls across first and we received text messages almost immediately that the roads were horrible and traffic was almost at a stand-still, not good. They finally made it after nearly an hour, and they said they also bounced off some guard rails once. I called ahead to La cache Maxime and asked for the latest dinner reservation possible, which they said was 7:30, hmmm. By the time the shuttle returned to pick us up, and fighting the roads and traffic back over to the Normandin, it was after 5pm, gotta go! However....10 miles away from the Normandin one of the Cats clutches decided to stop shifting and would lock up the track at low speeds, this isn't good. The operator is a Cat dealer, so very knowledgeable with repairs, and he said lets push on, so off we go. Everything is ok until he slows down, so no slowing down for the next 40 miles! Of course road crossings hindered that plan a bit, but every time the clutch would lock up he had it going again in just a few minutes. So, thats working well enough, nut Mother nature has the snow coming down hard and winds gusting blizzard like conditions and the trails are tough to follow. Riding across open fields is a nightmare, and more than once we would lose the trail. When we finally hit the feeder trail to head to Maxime I rounded a corner to find a 12" spruce tree blown over across the trail, I ended up with some spruce boughs on my tunnel as I slid up next to it. We managed to break off the top of the tree to allow passage but the next riders would be in big trouble in they hit this at any speed. We broke some trail stakes off and put on each side hoping to slow anybody down. We ended up pulling into our hotel at 7:30 exactly, so we were a little late for dinner, but not a problem. This place is very upscale, but great food and lounge, would definitely recommend. We would huddle in morning to figure out the final days plans.         200 miles

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Day 6 / Feb 19th

So....the guys are up at 5:30 to figure out a plan for the day. It's decided to call home for a retrieval truck and trailer as that Kitty is done for this trip. It is about a 5hr trip up, and the operator will not be able to be on the road until around 8am. The three of us guys decide to ride sleds back to Vermont and the girls will wait for the truck and trailer. It's my wifes birthday today, so she's more than happy to sleep in a little late, then hit the bar for mimosas with the girls! The three of us hit the trail at 7:30 hoping there are no more trees down in our path home. We take 75 south and for some reason, instead of paying attention to the trail signs, we are just hammering out the miles. Before you know it, I see a sign for Lac Megantic and I know we are further east than we need to be, whoops. We get onto 65 and start working back west to Weedon for a quick lunch, then backtrack 55 and take some of the green trails and cross thru customs in Norton. Trails were actually fantastic most of the way and we arrive back at camp at 3:30 with 250 miles for the day. All in all, a great trip with just under 1200 miles. Back at work for a few days, but looking forward to heading back up.

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Edited by neksledr

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16 hours ago, neksledr said:

Day 5 / Tuesday Feb 18th

What was planned on being a pretty simple day changed considerably when Mother Nature and sled failure intervened. Planned on running down the 3 to catch the Colibri shuttle back to the south side, and then continue 52 miles south to a place we have never been to before, La cache a Maxime in Sainte-Marie. It all started out perfect enough with cool temps and fresh grooming. The 3 was fast and uncrowded all the way to our first break, Relais Le Michelieu. After a quick stop we continued on west and about the time we passed Relais Ste-Anne the snow started falling, and hard. Visibility deteriorated quickly as we got closer to the city. Took some fuel before we hit the Colibri and ended up arriving there around 2pm. When we asked for the shuttle, the bar tender (owner?) shook his head no and mentioned something in french that didn't sound positive! We had pre-planned this with them earlier in the trip, but now we were being told maybe no shuttle because of the bad road conditions. After a phone call was made, he said said shuttle would arrive in 20 minutes, phew! Our good tips for the ride over appear to have paid off. We sent the girls across first and we received text messages almost immediately that the roads were horrible and traffic was almost at a stand-still, not good. They finally made it after nearly an hour, and they said they also bounced off some guard rails once.

lol, we got back from doing the Gaspe and we had an entertaining experience with that shuttle truck as well.  On the Saturday crossing south the driver almost ran into the guard rails as well having to make emergency maneuvers.  But in our case it was beautiful sunshine and dry roads.  Like you posted in another post about the dash board warning lights.  I used the expression lit like a Christmas tree as well.  It sounds like it is on its last leg.  The trailer too with the messed up rear gate.  lol  crossing back over on the following Saturday we pulled up as he was loading up 2 other sleds and he put our 3 sleds in to make it 5 in there.  That trailer was steering the truck the whole way.  How the tires made it I will never know.  lol

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Trigger- It almost seemed like he was falling asleep a few times! We got his whole history, from having one leg to only being able to watch re-runs of the same movie all day long as he waits for the next shuttle run. Nice enough guy though, and he made it very clear that he lives on his tips, so we tried to take good care of him!

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2 hours ago, neksledr said:

Trigger- It almost seemed like he was falling asleep a few times! We got his whole history, from having one leg to only being able to watch re-runs of the same movie all day long as he waits for the next shuttle run. Nice enough guy though, and he made it very clear that he lives on his tips, so we tried to take good care of him!

Yes he told us that about the tips as well.  on the return trip he started yelling that one of us didn't pay him but I know we all did.  finally he realized he only brought 5 sleds over and not 6.  lol.    You also mentioned the owner/bartender ? at the Colibri, on Saturday I ordered the French onion soup and he repeated it back, I was wondering why it was taking a while for mine to come out while my 2 buddies pea soup came out.  when it did it was Onion rings.  lol  mixed signals somewhere.  I happen to love onion rings so I didn't say anything.  He was a nice guy though. 

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1989, my first ride with the shuttle. I believe my friend and I left Eustis, we had heard of the great shuttle but new nothing. Just below Quebec City the trail lead to a really seedy bar with even seedier people in it. After lots of sign language with the female bartender, we waited for two hours not knowing if a shuttle was coming. As I recall he arrived, an old van, like maybe 60's vintage. Took us across the bridge and dropped us off. We had no clue where we were.  We rode for a couple days. All I recall is he drove like a bat out of hell, I believe one sled was inside the van and one on a small trailer.  I don't remember how we located him a couple days later for the ride back. I did more crossings in the early 2000's and seem to remember an old Suburban, probably the one he still uses.

mike

 

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1 hour ago, mikerider said:

1989, my first ride with the shuttle. I believe my friend and I left Eustis, we had heard of the great shuttle but new nothing. Just below Quebec City the trail lead to a really seedy bar with even seedier people in it. After lots of sign language with the female bartender, we waited for two hours not knowing if a shuttle was coming. As I recall he arrived, an old van, like maybe 60's vintage. Took us across the bridge and dropped us off. We had no clue where we were.  We rode for a couple days. All I recall is he drove like a bat out of hell, I believe one sled was inside the van and one on a small trailer.  I don't remember how we located him a couple days later for the ride back. I did more crossings in the early 2000's and seem to remember an old Suburban, probably the one he still uses.

mike

 

Lots of stories about the shuttle service for sure! One thing I know is that the wifes would have ridden there machines across the bridge on pavement if we told them we had to spend the night there!

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