Family time means sledding time

Quality time together for a Grande Prairie family usually involves winter camping trips and miles of snowmobiling through woodland trails

Father and son standing by snowmobile
Calvin (left) and Lou (right) take a break in the action during a snowmobiling excursion. photo courtesy Lou Maffret

Quality time with the entire family revolves around snowmobiles for the Maffrets in Grande Prairie.

They have made it a tradition to head into Kakwa Wildland Park—a provincial park roughly 120 kilometres from the community—for snowmobiling, camping and outdoor recreation.

Between the four of them—Lou, his wife, Judy, and grown kids Jenna, 21 and Calvin, 18—they’ll ride more than 150 kilometres a day when out on the park trails, which are maintained and groomed by the Swan City Snowmobile Club.

Winter camping is down to a science with the Maffrets, as they use wall tents complete with heated floorboards, a diesel furnace, and generators to keep everyone comfortable.

Now that Jenna and Calvin are both grown up, it's more difficult to manoeuvre around everyone's work schedules to get together for trips. But the Maffrets try for a half-dozen to a dozen excursions per year into Kakwa Wildland Park, Lou Maffret said.

“Your family grows up and you better take that opportunity while they’re growing up with you to enjoy that time because once they become adults, time isn’t as easy to share with your kids and yourself,” he added.

Many years on a sled

Lou Maffret was raised in Sherwood Park and rode around on snowmobiles while growing up. In fact, he has a 1972 SnoJet and has gone through a number of rides over the years.

He moved to Grande Prairie in 1992 to start his family and kept the tradition of raising his kids to snowmobile.

As toddlers, Lou and Judy would double up with Jenna and Calvin on their sleds, but eventually both grew to the point where their parents picked up a Polaris 340 Indy Lite.

Living on farmland property allows for endless exploring when Lou’s family visits, and he always enjoys seeing the smiles on everyone's faces when they take one of the machines to ride around the property.

“I usually keep a few sleds around just (for) those people who don’t have the opportunity to ride—it’s expensive to own a sled and all the gear—so we have a few around that are used (for extended family and friends),” said Lou.

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