Archive for February 22nd, 2012

This is a video summary of day 9 and is in addition to the “Safety Officer Report

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Safety Officer Report

The easy scenic morning to Nakina

The trip started well with 17 riders heading up to Nakina, Ontario, meeting up with Gaby and his wife of OFSC district 16. The morning ride Longlac to Geralton via Nakina was scenic with excellent trails conditions and markings.

The railway to Jellicoe, Ontario

During lunch in Geralton, Ontario we coordinated with local guides to help us ride down to Beardmore, Ontario. The plan was to ride the railroad grade (old train tracks – removed) most of the way to Beardmore and then hop on the gas pipeline the rest of the way there (about 60 miles). The ride started fine with the trail narrowing down to one snowmobile track after 25 miles. The deep snow inexperienced riders starting getting stuck. Riding just a few inches off the single track would pull a sled into waist deep snow and precariously close to falling off the railroad grade and was an ominous job get back on the trail. 

 Breaking trail

At this point the previous tracks we were riding stopped and turned around, leaving only one of our guides in front of me breaking a fresh trail. I quickly realized this was going to be impossible to get the group through and stopped and radioed the other three sleds in the group behind me who were radio equipped, telling them to turn around.  I called the support vehicles drivers with the Sat Phone to have them come to a point where we could have most of the sleds and drivers picked up. I then went after the local guide breaking trail to make sure he turned around and to ensure he did not get stuck out there by himself.

Getting turned around

After catching up with the local guide, I got turned around and started back to catch up with the rest of the group.  Getting each rider and sled turned around as we met them, unfortunately the railroad grade is elevated, domed and only about 12 ft wide in a lot of places. Just meeting another sled going in the opposite direction was a difficult challenge to work through.  On top of this one of the sleds,  Ralph G’s Arctic Cat broke its front axle and would need to be towed out. Fortunately we had the MichCanSka Mule a 2012 Ski-doo Scandic wide track to pull him back to where we met the support vehicles along the highway. At this point it was just after dark and we loaded a total of 12 sleds of the 17 in the group. Our plan was to have the remaining 5 sleds and the 2 guides jump on the Gas pipeline and ride the 40+ miles to Beardmore, Ontario, and Our destination for today.

Riding the Gas Pipeline

By this time it was snowing pretty hard and the ride was challenging with deep snow and confusing navigation trying to follow the tracks of previous snowmobiles.  A couple of riders got stuck along the way, but nothing serious. We had to stop and put gas in the local guides sled since they were now on fumes and the one gas station we stopped at was already closed by just a few minutes.

The wall

About 8 miles from our hotel “Roxey Place” in Beardmore, we came upon a wall of plowed snow about 10 – 12 ft straight up, it was made by a snowplow grading a road crossing the pipeline and in the dark there appeared to be no way around.  By the time the group of 7 got done, we had to dig out, cut out and/or use the snow bungee 5 times. One o

f the guides jumped on Don L’s sled and went so fast it not only climbed the Wall it bounced and went over the other side of the road down in the ditch sending the guide over the handle bars into the brush, bending the handlebars and breaking the windshield. He was ok, but will really be sore in the morning. I called the support vehicle to come pick up Don’s sled and stayed with him while sending the rest of the 5 sleds onto the Hotel. We finally all arrived at 10:30 P.M.  We were on the trail for over 15 hours today.

In Summary,

1)   We had all the right gear and tools.

2)   No one in the group hurt (Local guide appears to be sore)

3)   Successfully extracted broke sled and 12 sleds & riders

4)   We worked as a team!

5)   Our radio communication method worked reasonably well

6)   People made sacrifices for the good of the Group

Pete Pattullo

Safety Officer – Michcanska Adventures

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