Snowmobile Trip from Maine to Quebec (Tom Rosato)
It’s the Journey, Not the Destination: Eight members of the Easy Riders Snowmobile Club started and finished (well – almost) an 875 mile, five-day snowmobile trip last February. The trip began in Jackman, Maine, went 195 miles west to Millinocket for the first night, then 210 miles north to Wallagrass for the second night, another 135 miles north to Riviere-du-Loup, Quebec for the third, followed by 200 miles west to Levis, Quebec near Quebec City for the fourth and finally 135 miles south back to Jackman. Quebec was offering a special two-day free ride without trail passes. We purchased an additional one-day trail pass, for an extended three day ride over the boarder.
Sleds included seven 4-strokes (3 Yamahas, 2 Arctic Cats, 1 Ski-Doo and 1 Polaris) and one lonely 2-stroke (Ski-Doo). Participants were Ron Cater, Billy Dighton, Russ Glidden, Herb Hilton, Travis MacAlister, Larry McCullough, John Shea and me, Tom Rosato.
The daily routine was to get up early, have breakfast and for the most part leave at 9am, which was late compared to previous trips. The group would typically stop for gas in late morning, then maybe have lunch between noon and 1:00, followed by another stop for fuel, and one last time near the hotel, around 5-6 pm.
Upon arriving at the hotel the sleds would be parked in the secure areas in Quebec or locked together with chains/cables outside. Saddle bags would then be removed followed by check-in, then dinner and finally bed by 10pm. In the morning the drill was reversed and we’d take off with full stomachs and gas tanks.
As is typical of a trip of this duration, most everyone had some sort of issue with their sled. Ron’s Ski-Doo needed a new snow flap and carbides and 2-stroke oil (only because he neglected to bring enough). Travis’ Yamaha blew a fuse and later a drive belt and he eventually learned the function of a kill switch (it seems that it has to be in the up position to start a sled. Who would have guessed?). Russ couldn’t start his Yamaha one morning (bad ground?) and later that day pretty much blew an oil pump in his engine. Larry had to deal with wacky gauges on his Arctic Cat and ran out of gas once, thankfully within sight of the hotel. Billy (I’ll never be able to get a job as a gas station attendant) overfilled Ron’s sled with gas, resulting in a big mess. Later his Yamaha got stuck on the suspension bridge in Millinocket due to lack of studs.
Following the completion of the official trip Billy decided to run into a tree while getting in one last ride with Travis before trailering home. Herb (Polaris), John (Arctic Cat), and I (Ski-Doo) had virtually no issues to speak of with our sleds. Knock on wood.
The trip was supposed to have included two significant highlights, neither one of them occurred though. A stop was planned at the “Trains” north of Millinocket but the group decided the previous evening not to do so because it would have meant leaving very early – 7am. As it turned out, the first day of riding became to be known as “The Mutiny” and eventually evolved into “It’s all about Larry” because Larry insisted the group do the “Lookout” which resulted in an additional 25 miles. That made for a long first day.We were supposed to visit the Ice Hotel in Quebec City but once again the group decided the night before not to because it appears someone (okay – me) had underestimated the mileage to Levis which would have required an extremely early start the next day and that wasn’t happening with this group.
There still were many notable highlights though. The trails were outstanding for the most part, especially the short stretch in New Brunswick. Weather was very cooperative. No snow to hinder visibility and reasonably cold, especially in Canada, where it was below zero. Food was outstanding, especially at the Canadian hotels. I sure do love Cosmos in Levis or was it the waitress?
Some of us even tried out Pelletier’s (Ron’s favorite place – haha) in Millinocket. Herb spilled corn chowder in Kokadjo and truly enjoyed the company of the ladies at our gas stop at Coffin’s in Portage Lake.
Advance reservations were crucial. We wouldn’t have gotten in to a few of the hotels as it turns out. Track Down Lodge in Wallagrass far exceed expectations. Four Points Sheraton in Levis was first-class all the way and then some. Heated garages were nice in Canada. Customs presented no problems, but don’t forget your passport.
We also all benefited from words of wisdom provided by both Russ and Herb. Russ-“It’s the journey, not the destination” and Herb- “The man who invented time invented plenty of it.”
As mentioned early on, eight of us started and finished (well almost) the entire 875 mile trip. Let me explain. Russ’ sled broke down at the end of the fourth day and had to be towed a few miles to the hotel in Levis. He spent the entire next day there while we sledded back to Jackman. Ron then drove his truck and trailer back to Levis and picked up Russ and his dead sled. They were back in Jackman by about 10pm.
Normally, one would consider this to be a sad story but as it turns out, it has a happy ending. Russ converted the very next day. He traded in his Yamaha and bought a brand new Ski-Doo in Jackman. The End!
Photos by Larry McCullough