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Family Outing at Petersville

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AMDS Outdoor Adventures - 1/8/00
by Ken Baehr

  Ken & Chuck on Summit 600's
Ken & Chuck on Ski-Doo Summit 600's

This week marked another great ride.  We heard that snow conditions were great throughout the Petersville area.  Boy was that an understatement.  My wife Kay and I loaded up the truck and drove down to Chuck’s place (all of one block) to meet up with him and his wife Robyn, Kay’s sister (talk about a family ride).  We stopped by the storage lot, picked up our machines, and headed north to Petersville.  It was the first ride of the season for the girls, so we passed on breakfast and headed straight for the trailhead.  As we approached Willow, we started to notice a snowflake or two in the air.  The farther north we went the more flakes we saw.  Pretty soon it was snowing hard, and we had to slow down a little.  Kaytie doesn’t like driving in the snow, so she was white knuckling the armrest all the way up.  (I wonder if I’ll ever get the nail marks out.)  Actually the roads weren’t too bad, but we did have to pay attention.  The only part that made me nervous was passing 18-wheelers going in the opposite direction.  When we passed each other the wind would kick up the snow behind the big truck and create a three-second white out.  Four seconds would have not been fun, but three seconds was tolerable.  At any rate, we made the parking lot, unloaded our machines, and suited up to ride.

Our first goal was a six-mile run to Chris and Karen’s place more formally known as  “McKinley Snowmobile Adventures” lodge.  We quickly discovered that we were about to have a superb riding weekend.  The temperature was hovering right around 20 degrees.  There was about a foot of fresh powder on top of a solid base that was some four to six feet deep.  It was like riding on pillows.  You can go anywhere you want without getting stuck because you have solid snow just a foot beneath you.  At the same time, the fresh powder on top gives you a soft cushion to ride on that is just pure pleasure.  As we neared the lodge I looked in my mirror and saw nothing.  Then I noticed Chuck off to my right, and Kaytie and Robyn off to my left.  The snow was so perfect; no one wanted to ride single file.  Each of us was breaking our own trail and simply enjoying the luxury of it all.  We were almost disappointed to reach the lodge because we were having so much fun.

Chuck, Robyn, & Kaytie
Chuck, Robyn, & Kaytie - Photo by Ken Baehr

Chris and Karen’s is a neat place.  It is a lodge that has been built on a ridgeline that overlooks a creek bed with an unobstructed view of Mount McKinley.  There are six rooms in the main lodge and three cabins outside that will sleep up to six people per cabin.  It also has a large living room with couches and a satellite TV, a complete dining area, a kitchen that serves food and drink from breakfast through dinner, and a gas station (tiny though it may be).  The neat part is that you can’t get there by road.  The only way in is by snowmachine in the winter.  We unloaded our gear, took care of the check in details and decided to have lunch before we went riding. 

After lunch the four of us suited up again and went to see what we could see.  The light was a little on the flat side, but the temperature was mild and the snow was perfect.  We decided to run the swamp north and south that work their way to a place we call the ditch.  It was about a 12-mile run of absolutely perfect snow.  I hadn’t seen this kind of perfection since the winter of 1993.  We all had a great time.  Chuck’s and my Summit 600s purred like kittens all day long and just ate up the opportunity to stretch out and run the powder.  Kay and Robyn’s Touring SLE’s with their 500 fan cooled engines were no slouches either.  They handled the powder easily and kept up with Chuck and I just fine.  In fact on one stretch of swamp I was cruising along at about 50 mph when suddenly Kay blew by me and took the lead on into the lodge.  I could tell by the grin on her face that she was having a ball.

We wore ourselves out in the powder and then headed back to the lodge.  After all it was getting close to dinnertime.  Chris had made a beer-basted pot roast, and we had worked up an appetite.  What a combination!  By the time we had finished dinner, we had also hooked up with a number of old riding buddies that were also visiting the lodge.  We swapped stories, watched a little TV, and finished off the evening with a game of canasta.  We all fell asleep with smiles on our faces.

Into the Sunset
Into the Sunset...

The next morning Chuck and I decided to take a little exploration run.  We wanted to see if we could find some connecting routes between two trails that roughly paralleled each other.  It was fun.  We did find some new routes and got into some virgin snow.  Neither of us could resist the opportunity and we spent a lot of time just playing in the powder.  When we finally got back to the lodge, the girls were anxious to ride.  We hooked up with two friends, Les Anderson and his wife Ann and took a short ride over to Cat Ballou lodge, then back to the parking lot and home.  All in all it was a great two days of riding that provided the usual in superb scenery, wonderful riding, and incredible relaxation therapy.

~ Ken Baehr

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