Hitting the high points

Sledders look forward to the upcoming season with great anticipation

by Carol Ann Quibell

With a snowmobiling season that runs from mid-November to late April or early May, it is no wonder sledding is a popular sport in Mackenzie, B.C.—especially when some of the trails can be reached right from town or by taking a very short drive. Avid snowmobilers in Mackenzie are anticipating an excellent season, and the 100-plus members of the local Rocky Mountain Riders Snowmobile Club are no exception.

It’s diverse, it’s scenic and it's family safe—but the area also has tremendous terrain for those extreme snowmobilers who like to explore the mountains on a more challenging wilderness ride. The virgin snow is just waiting for those sledders who want a more exciting traverse or to do a little bowl climbing—all the while enjoying breathtaking views as far as the eye can see.

Spectacular sledding can be experienced at the Murray Range, with extreme powder and meadows to explore, while the elevations of 7,000 feet on the Pine Pass Trail and Powder King just 65 kilometres east of here entice riders who love the alpine. The outstanding 50 kilometres of trails on Morfee Mountain, overlooking the town, offer a whole host of riding experiences.

Locals and visitors have the benefit of taking day trips with their families on beautifully groomed trails; near the top of Morfee is a warming hut where sledders can stop to play around and enjoy their tasty packed lunches. This is one of two huts in the area heated nicely with a wood-burning stove—it's a great place to escape the cold and join fellow snowmobilers.

Untouched powder or groomed trails through mature trees thrill beginners as well as the more experienced along the Gagnon Trail, which is accessible from the cemetery. This takes riders to Mackenzie Junction 29 kilometres away, making a terrific day trip.

Safety is important

The Rocky Mountain Riders Snowmobile Club promotes safe riding and is actively involved in developing and grooming the trails so that everyone who is interested can have a fun ride. The club's website has posted the following: “We are working to ensure that everyone can continue to have the opportunity to enjoy snowmobiling in and around Mackenzie.”

Don’t forget to bring your sense of adventure, a scrumptious lunch, a helmet and warm gloves, and be prepared for any possible emergency by having an avalanche beacon, probe, shovel, extra gas and fire starter.

Snowmobilers involve themselves in the community

“Family Ice Fishing Day is a big event in Mackenzie, and the club is a big part of it,” said Kerri Borne, the tourism and events manager for the District of Mackenzie.

Each year, members of the snowmobile club participate in a scavenger hunt just for kids, giving them the thrill of riding around the lake while searching for and finding tickets that were hidden in the trees earlier in the day.

“Poker rides, family fun rides, show and shine, and snow drags are just a few of the special events we enjoy,” said local rider Steve Putman.

Raising money by participating in worthy causes—including the Lions Club Snowarama Event and the Way out Women Ride for Breast Cancer—is an important part of the club.

One of the first explorers

The famous explorer Alexander Mackenzie camped near the current Mackenzie townsite in 1793. Adventurers and outdoor enthusiasts have been exploring the area ever since, with snowmobilers being among that crowd.

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