February 14-19, 2014 Annual Cabin Trip: (37 Photos)


37.   Last year for the first time in a long time we did not have our annual Winter Trip to the Sooley cabin, but Winter 2014 saw the return of the good old fashioned Winter Trip. This trip has always taken place around the 15th of February, Sooley's birthday going back to about 1997 and is held at the Sooley family cabin just east of Whitbourne on the Trans Canada Highway. Over the years we have experimented with different dates trying to outsmart the weather, but often we end up with rain before or during the trip. Plans were made weeks in advance on how long we'd be gone, what we would do and what we would eat.


36.   On Saturday. a week prior to the trip Maffer and I headed to the Cabin with our two Honda 9/28 snow blowers to clear the driveway, parking lot and doors.


35.   After our big melt in January, there was only about 18" of snow on the ground and it was dry and not compacted.


34.   It took us about 2 hours to clean everything up, another hour breaking up ice on the hill in the driveway and a few minutes getting Maffer's truck unstuck! With our hard work complete, we headed to Monty's Place Restaurant for one of their famous Sharon Burgers before heading back to town.


33.   The annual cabin trip was supposed to start with Maffer and I leaving town Friday morning, but mother nature forced us to put our plans on hold. We had heavy snow, gale force winds and an RCMP advisory to stay off the highway, overall not a bad way to start a snowmobile trip! However, that afternoon the snow changed to rain and quickly made a mess of things. By suppertime the weather had cleared, our driveways were cleaned up so we decided to load up and head out over the highway to the Cabin.


32.   We arrived at the cabin just as it got dark, got everything unloaded, and the wood stoves lit. Sooley arrived around 9pm as he had a valentines date earlier that evening.

Saturday morning Janes arrived just as we were finishing breakfast at Monty's Place Restaurant and French showed up a little later that morning. Although the day brought sunny skies and cold temperatures, according to Environment Canada, we received approximately 40mm of rain at the cabin last night which melted the previous day's snowfall and some of what was there previous to that. More worrisome, the snow on the ponds was melted or saturated and beginning to freeze into glare ice. This has happened to us before, and it makes snowmobiling a PITA as you cant get traction, and hyfax need snow to keep them from melting.


31.   Maffer and I decided to run back to town and grab our bikes, my 1998 Foreman and his 2012 Can Am as we would be able to ride them easily in this weather. We left the sleds at the cabin just in case we got more snow later in the week.  We arrived back at the cabin around lunchtime, unloaded the bikes, suited up and headed up the pond to see what the guys were up to.


30.   We found Sooley, Janes & French busy ice fishing, and doing a little riding. Sooley was on the family Arctic Cat 570, Janes on the old Enticer II 410


29.   and French (having sold his Nytro this past fall) was riding his father's mint Yamaha Venture Multi Purpose.


28.   The water on the ponds was quickly freezing up, but not enough to support the weight of the machines on top of the new ice. It was a slow wet ride up the pond, although perfectly safe as there was still 12" of ice under the water/slush mix. The snow in the woods was perfect for ATV riding, about 12" thick it was not deep enough to easily get stuck,  but deep enough to have a lot of fun!. Maffer's bike is an absolute savage in the snow. With 72 horsepower from the monster 800cc V-twin and 28" Maxxis Mudzilla tires there weren't many obstacles that could stop it! Riding behind him was like riding in a snowstorm as he tore up and down the power line trail and side trails with ease!


27.   My Foreman with considerably less power and half worn out Mudlite XTR tires still faired very well, but I lost power/traction trying to climb the steepest of hills. This is where the smoothness of a modern CVT transmission really shines, all and all it was still great going.


26.   That evening we had an awesome BBQ supper, it was steaks all around the table sided with French's mashed potato, and pan-fried mushrooms & onions.




24.   That evening we had a very important task to take care of. Getting rid of a big pile of scrap lumber from Mr. Sooley's renovation project in Heart's Delight. Since there was no wind and everything was snow covered and soaked from the previous night's storm, it was a great time for a bonfire.




22. We soaked the pile in fossil fuels and after a couple failed attempts of using flares to start the fire, Sooley and I used a fuel soaked stick to get it going. It was a fire of epic proportions in true Sooley style. At least the RCMP didn't show up this time!






19.   Nothing like a late night Sled & ATV run to the top of the pond.


18.   Sunday morning brought more rain and generally miserable weather. French prepared a wonderful breakfast, afterwards Maffer, Janes and I headed to the couch to watch TV and keep the woodstoves going. Meanwhile French & Sooley suited up to go up the pond ice fishing. Personally I am a fair-weather outdoorsman, if I don't have to go out in crappy weather I'll give it a pass as I'd rather have an enjoyable experience. Since the guys were busy, I prepared supper by heating up spaghetti with Moose meat balls (which was prepared and sent to the cabin by Mrs. Sooley), and a side of garlic bread toast. Everyone makes spaghetti sauce differently, I love trying recipes from different people and this one was absolutely fantastic.


17.   Monday arrived and brought us back to winter conditions with sunny skies and cold temps. French packed up and headed back to town as he had a new vehicle to pick up at Hickman's Dodge, meanwhile Maffer, Janes and I headed to Monty's Place once again for Breakfast. Before we headed back to the cabin,  we stopped over and visited the man himself, Monty Petipas whom we've gotten to know over the last few years at the St. John's Rod and Gun Club.


16.   That afternoon Maffer and I suited up and went for a run on the bikes while Sooley and Janes went ice fishing. By now the ponds were frozen solid, and we had a great run all in through the high waters area and back the pole line towards the highway. There are quite a few Hydro access roads along the pole line that are used to bypass bogs and connect to the highway, here the snow was much deeper and I managed to bury my bike AND run out of gas! On my last trip I must have switched the gas valve to reserve, and forgot to switch it back when I refuelled, so when the bike stalled, it was completely out! Maffer ran back to the cabin on his CanAm and got a can of gas, so with the bike refuelled I had it winched out in no time.




14.   Later that afternoon Maffer made an awesome climb up the hill at the end of the pond on the power line, and was so excited with his success he tried another line up the same hill.




12.   Not one to be defeated, Maffer tried again to make it all the way up the hill.


11.   This time the bike hit a stump and pitched skyward with Maffer holding on, right into the branches of a big spruce tree! We had to cut away some branches and another smaller stump to free the bike.


10.   Instead of backing down the hill Maffer punched it foreword and spun 270 degrees right around the tree like it was tethered to it (it looked awesome!) Unfortunately the bike came to an abrupt halt sending Maffer crashing into the Side Panel & Handle Bars  where he either bruised or broke a rib!


9.   While Maffer and I were riding, Sooley & Janes were ice fishing and got a fire going in our fire pit at the top of the pond. We cut out this pit almost 15 years ago, and our log benches are still held in place by the same straps we tied up all those years ago.






6.   Big fish or small stick? Depends on who's telling the story!


5.   Earlier that morning I prepared a nice big Moose Roast from this years Moose hunt in Trepassey, placed it in my cast iron roaster on 220 Degrees F and left it for the day. That afternoon Janes prepared carrot, turnip, mashed potatoes, canned corn, and made an awesome gravy, truly a meal fit for a king! The roast was so tender you hardly needed a knife!


4.   After supper we sat back with a coffee and lit the candles on Sooley's Birthday cake. I think we were a couple days late, but better late then never! (This brings up another point- never ask Janes to grab a half full can of coffee from your truck as he may knock the lid off sending fresh coffee grinds EVERYWHERE! LoL I guess there are worse things to have the truck smell like!)


3.   We awoke Tuesday morning to sunny skies, cold temps and about 10cm of fresh fallen snow! Janes packed up and headed back to town while Sooley, Maffer and I once again headed to Monty's Place for breakfast and then to the store for a few supplies and plumbing antifreeze to re-winterize the cabin. Maffer was still super sore after his run in with the spruce tree, Sooley suited up and went Coyote hunting, while I suited up and took the opportunity to use my sled. I fired up Project REV 800 and headed up the pond, all in through Highwaters everywhere, out the pole line as far as Ocean Pond, then back the other way to the highway. I actually managed to burn a full tank of gas riding, looking for coyote tracks and generally fooling around.

I finally convinced Maffer to come out of the cabin for an easy, relaxing ride, and take it easy on his sore ribs. He took his bike and managed to get it stuck, so I dug it out for him and he rode it out of the hole with ease. Unfortunately, on the narrow path in front of him lay a fallen tree which struck the front fender, poked a hole clean through the plastic and jabbed him in the leg. Maffer took this as a sign and headed back to the cabin! I was nearly out of gas, so I headed back to fuel up and while doing so I got a text from Sooley saying he had the Arctic Cat buried. I eventually found him in the woods just off the bog near the cabin and we had the sled out in no time. Supper that evening was another BBQ, Sooley and I had steak while Maffer had chicken, we sided the meal with rice and canned corn.


2.   Wednesday was the last day of our trip, although it was another perfectly fine sunny day, we had a lot of work to do to pack up, clean up and re-winterize the cabin.


1.   Also, the forecast called for another storm Wednesday suppertime so I wanted to be back early to unpack and tidy up the driveway from the snow/ice we had while I was away. All in all it was a fantastic trip. All the benchmarks of a great trip were hit: gas burned, some machine carnage, trout caught, firewood burnt, and awesome meals enjoyed. I think this trip we have eaten better then any past cabin trip, thanks to ever refined cooking skills and the fact that Monty's Place serves an awesome ultimate omelette!


Cheers, MIKE

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Copyright 2011 Michael Smith