The joy of riding on virgin snow

Three companions find themselves sledding on snow that hasn’t seen the likes of snowmobiles too often

by Thomas Shirtliffe

Randy (in back) and his son Aaron had a fabulous time playing in untouched snow near Candle Lake; Randy's brother Rick was part of the group that day. Rick Kaminskas photo

For the most part, those who take to the snow every winter have a lot of groomed trails to ride and many areas where they have been sledding for years—but there is always a time when you might find something completely new and untouched. 

Just last winter, Rick Kaminskas had that opportunity—along with his brother Randy and Randy's son Aaron. Kaminskas didn’t discover the place himself; it was Aaron and Randy who found the untouched snow a week before. In an area around Candle Lake, which is just over an hour from Prince Albert going northeast, Kaminskas was led by his brother and nephew to a small rabbit trail that led them into the bush.

“The trail to get in used to be a wide road for trucks,” Kaminskas said. “But now it’s so grown in and so narrow.”

That trail led the three snowmobilers into what appeared to be an abandoned elk farm. Kaminskas figures there was over 40 acres of openness at about 500 feet wide with plenty of willows to ride around.

And then there was the snow.

“The snow was mega deep,” Kaminskas said. “Last year we got a lot of snow here and the snow was waist deep in there.”

The snow wasn’t packed down, so the sleds just went right over top; it was soft, making it more of a challenge to ride in. Or, for Kaminskas and his two companions, a heck of a lot more fun.

“There were lots of willows,” Kaminskas said, “and we were weaving through it all at 30 miles an hour. It was pretty much all stand-up riding; it takes a lot of skill and a lot of horsepower to get through it all.”

Kaminskas said he was having one of the greatest rides of his life when they were riding at that abandoned elk farm, but it wasn’t easy for Kaminskas on what he describes as a heavier machine.

“My sled is a 2002 800cc MXZ-X, so it’s a little heavier than what you want in this type of snow,” said Kaminskas. “Sometimes you couldn’t make the turn to avoid some of those willows and you ended up going through some. You just plow through and hope you don’t hit a rock.”

Kaminskas said he has found terrain before that had seen little snowmobile action with almost as much snow, and he said he a fun time—but nothing like what he played in last winter.

“The snow was deeper and it was a lot more enclosed,” he said.

Kaminskas, his brother Randy and his nephew Aaron are planning to go back to that elk farm next season and will most likely keep on going there for a while. He said it seems to be a sledding place all for them—and although they haven’t told very many people about it, Kaminskas decided to share his story with SnoRiders because he’s confident that people reading the story will still have a difficult time finding the spot.

Deep snow wins this battle

Rick Kaminskas said he has dealt with deep snow before—and on one occasion, the snow claimed an easy victory. Kaminskas, sledding with a group of four at the time, was riding on top of a bank. The snow was freshly drifted snow and it began to get softer and softer, causing Kaminskas to have difficulty manoeuvring his sled.

“I was having trouble steering away,” he said, “but it was pulling me in so I had to stop.”

It was good he did stop, because he was getting pretty close to one of those large highway signs. But stopping didn’t end his problems. By the time Kaminskas was fully stopped, his sled was pretty much standing on end, and he was ejected slowly into the drift.

It turns out that the snow he went into was four feet of freshly drifted snow. The rest of the group stopped to help Kaminskas out and actually had trouble finding the skis at first. Once they did, they were able to get the sled out and Kaminskas riding again.

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