A nighttime ride in Smoky Lake

A group of five sledding buddies had such a good time, they kept riding into the night

by Jessica Kirby

Unbelievable scenery and perfect snow conditions make every ride one to remember, says Vern Billey, president of the Smoky Lake Trail Twisters. He and other riders in Smoky Lake, Alberta, jump on their sleds to explore hundreds of kilometres of trails—some of which they’ve yet to discover.

“We have developed trails north of town and we are still riding and exploring new locations,” said Billey. “It beats loading the sleds on the trailer and travelling 300-plus kilometres to trails that are pounded out.”

Pefect according to plan

One afternoon ride that turned into a longer-than-expected adventure epitomizes the good times that snowmobiling in Smoky Lake is all about. Billey and five friends headed out for what was supposed to be a few hours' ride. They rode out on the north trail to the Hanmore Lake cabin for a sausage roast. 

“Nothing beats stopping at different rest areas, making a fire and roasting some sausage or hotdogs,” said Billey. “Somehow they just taste better.”

The temperature was about -15. It was a little cloudy and there was about four inches of fresh snow.

“George led the crew and I always sweep,” said Billey. “I love to follow because no one can see me fooling around, carving the trail and getting some air time.”

The group was about six kilometres north going over Brodyk Lake when the fun really began. George went sailing over the lake with no problems, as did the next three riders. About eight inches of overflow water on the lake gave the last two riders a run for their money.

“The first sled broke the trail and we started to break through,” said Billey. “Water rooster tails were just flying, but of course we made it. The girl in front of me was pretty concerned, but we managed.”

Up ahead, the community pasture was an unreal treat—a whole white field of fresh powder about three feet deep and not so much as a rabbit track.

“We must have spent two hours carving up every inch of that field,” said Billey. “We usually don't work up a sweat, but we were soaked.”

By this time it was already getting dark, so the sledders headed to the cabin, lit the fire and roasted some Mundare Sausage.

“Nothing gets better than that,” said Billey.

The good times just never end

The group spent about two hours sitting around the fire talking before deciding to head back—but on the way, they took a wrong turn.

“We are supposed to know all the trails in this area, but it happens,” said Billey.

From the wrong trail, they took another and another until they’d put an extra 60 kilometres on their machines.

“I don't know how, but around 2 a.m. we finally got home,” said Billey. “Not bad for a couple hours' run—the guys still mention that ride.”

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