Wild Northerner Magazine 2015/16 Winter Issue - Page 6

Winter brings chilly fun and cursing

Publisher's note

There is no point fighting winter. It is a season you truly have to embrace.

I love the snow, cold and ice. I have also been in enough bad situations in the winter season to have nothing but respect for it.

I have always loved winter. My favourite memories as a kid are going cross-country skiing on Sundays with my mom, snowshoeing through the bush, soaring across an open field on a snow machine and racing down hills on a GT snow racer.

I’m looking forward to seeing what new memories I can create with family and friends this winter.

A big portion of my time outdoors in the winter is spent ice fishing. I didn’t have a lot of opportunities as a kid growing up to take part in the sport, but I have more than made up for that as I grew older.

Not much stops me from enjoying the chilly season. I have a couple of hardy buddies who are on the same page as me when it comes to ice fishing and we go out relentlessly. I have stood on the ice, jigging a rod, with the temperature at -51C. I have navigated through blinding snow storms to get to a remote spot. I have hiked several kilometres to try a lake I’ve never fished and get skunked. I have done this more than once.

I guess I’m just a sucker for the brutality of winter. And it can be brutal.

A few years ago, I went out for a ride on my snow machine to do some fishing. I had told my wife where I was going and how long I would be. I made it to the lake and set up my holes. About an hour later, I had a couple of brook trout on the ice. The sun was out and it was -35C. There was also a howling wind that made it much colder.

I should have been satisfied with my situation, but, like an idiot, I wasn’t. I got a brilliant idea to pack up in a haste and go try a lake I had never been before about 10-km away from where I was.

I drove around, almost aimlessly, for about an hour trying to find the lake and an access point. I ended up going down a few side trails and came to a swamp/clearing. I roared across it thinking the lake was on the other side through the trees. It wasn’t. I hiked through the trees and came across a bigger swamp.

I decided to give up and go home. As I raced back across the smaller swamp on my snow machine, I hit a soft pocket and the snow machine came to an abrupt halt and sunk down about three feet into slush. I was partially tossed off the machine. I admit, it rattled me. I hadn’t followed my tracks going in. I looped to the far side of the swamp. No idea why. I just did it. I paid for this mistake.

I spent the next three hours digging and pushing my snow machine foot by foot across that swamp. I drive a 1996 Polaris XLT. My one buddy, Billy, calls it the Big Comfy Couch. It is wide, long and heavy.