Thursday, February 21, 2008

Lac St-Jean (February 10-15, 2008)

This started as the unknown trip, with the usual John, Tom, and I. We had a last minute addition, Don, from St. Croix. It's been a few years since we've riden with him, but a great guy none the less.

We started from the Governeur on the last day of the ice races...

and headed for Kanawata. Trails were average to fair till the re-routed TQ33 which was in good shape. Trails around Lac Repos were beat and 369 to Kanawata was just a single track, so we hit the road for ~25 miles [trails north were fine]. The main lodge was full, but a cabin for two was fine [don't try four people]. The wood stove kept a nice heat and the hot water in the shower was more controlled than the lodge.

First day problems for me included: a worn out heated-shield plug, bad hand-warmer that should have been fixed by the dealer, and leaking chain case oil on my new break rotor which was replaced the week before. A couple of stops and a few hours, plus $400 and all was well.

The next day, it was off to St Felicien, fairly uneventful but some snow drifts and a nice sunset. Hotel du Jardin didn't disappoint, but we just missed this...

Day 3 we headed to Lac Moreau, touted as the mini-Sacacomie...I certainly disagree. It's a nice stop, very similar to Joncas with nice people and accomadations, but the price was high and the food was gourmet stuff that most wouldn't like. They were very snowmobile friendly, but had no sign on TQ83 and said they get maybe 20 people a year from the US and we were four of them. It was also on this trip that we realized we need gps waypoints for SAQ's...this summers project.

Day 4 we headed back to the Governeur since Donnies trip was over. On the way out from Lac Moreau, Donny pointed out that the Gorges weren't far away, but they had been closed to sleds for 4-years. We found the access road/trail but it wasn't opened and we had two yammies, so we skipped it...maybe some day.

Day 5 the three of us headed up to Alma via L'Etape. The section of TQ3/23 from Shawinigan to St-Raymond was a flat perfect 90 miles. 23N from there there was OK till we past the groomer outside L'Etape. It then sucked till Apica. We didn't stop in L'Etape, and the yammie ran out of gas just outside Apica at 105 miles. At Apica I noticed gas was $1.55 which may have been the most expensive of the year? What a rip-off, this place is right on a main road and not a necessary stop [for most people]. Even Lac Edouard was only $1.25/liter. This was Valentines day and the Universal had only two rooms with king beds, so it was couch time for me. Dinner was also very slow...plan ahead on this holiday.

Day 6 was a return to home via 355, AKA the worst trail in 2005. What a difference, it didn't even look like the same trail. The curse of Lac Edouard, however, lives on. Tom broke his track [at 12k miles] and put a stud through the heat exchanger. We were just outside of Relais le Trappeur where he picked up the black trail. From there, the pipeline was excellent, but 360 was total junk all the way.

Overall, a good trip, 1500+ miles in six days. This is the peak of the snowmobile season, but we didn't see many sleds, however trail conditions were all over the place, just like the Gaspe which we usually do at this time. The Mont Laurier area always seems to be junk and should be avoided near the weekend. We also travelled to Quebec on both Saturday's, so we avoided those bad conditions. We've been spoiled by the perfect trails we see on the season ender, which will hopefully be true this year as well.