Photos: Martin Lortz
To buy a sled or to not by a sled? That was my big question at the beginning of this upcoming winter season, and it sure was a difficult one! Of course I had all the intentions in the world to get out riding as often as I could on Ontario’s snowmobile trails, but we all know that is sometimes a bit easier said than done. Coming from Southern Ontario, it takes me a bit longer to drive up North and so I have to take more time off from my busy schedule to enjoy the sport that I love. Don’t get me wrong though – I’m more than happy to do that, but it just means I can’t go as often as some folks who live minutes from the trail.
So I made the difficult decision not to buy a snowmobile, and instead decided that I would do things a bit differently this year. This meant that I needed to get creative in how I would get my adrenaline fix since I didn’t have a snowmobile to scratch that itch. For me, the option of renting or borrowing a snowmobile made a lot of sense since it gave me flexibility, along with the ability to test out different sleds, fine tune my riding skills, and save a bit of money at the same time!
Just as I had hoped, I found myself headed to Minett, Ontario, located in Muskoka, for a two-day snowmobile trip. The JW Marriot The Rosseau Muskoka Resort & Spa, nestled on a hilltop overlooking Rosseau Lake, was my destination and only one word could describe this place – perfect. This resort made travelling up north easy and stress free. From the moment I pulled up to the majestic front doors, I felt comfortable and at-ease. A smouldering fire pit and a few snowmobiles parked out front of the resort greeted me, and once inside, the Muskoka-inspired décor took my breath away. The pottery, paintings and sculptures were all purchased from local artists and added to the homey, yet sophisticated atmosphere of the resort.
For those of you who are looking for a nice variety of activities to enjoy, this resort is a great option. While I was there primarily to snowmobile, I snuck in a bit of snowshoeing, learned some wilderness skills and also how to make the bannock over the campfire.
Resort staff were just finishing preparations on the outdoor skating rink that overlooks Lake Rosseau, which is another great activity for families to enjoy. I also had a chance to duck into the spa for a wonderful and relaxing spa treatment before taking a dip in the heated indoor/outdoor pool. I was in paradise – it was the perfect getaway and gave me the break I needed from everything else that was going on in my life.
A lot of snow had fallen over the past week, which left the entire grounds of the resort covered in soft, marshmallow-like fluff. On top of that, it snowed another few inches that night which made for perfect trail conditions the next day. Walking out of the resort to my waiting sled, a Ski-Doo XP 600 Grand Touring Sport, made me feel like a Princess. My chariot was waiting along with Dan Arcand, Tour Guide from Muskoka Sports & Recreation, and… Knight in Shining Armour? By the end of the day, Dan would have earned that title after digging out snowmobiles stuck in the snow and exploring haunted ghost towns, but I’ll get to that shortly. What I am trying to get at is that that week, I traded in my business casual attire and heels for snow gear and snowmobile boots, without so much as a backward glance. Ah – who am I kidding, those who know me well know that I have more snowmobile gear and accessories that I do clothes, but the analogy seemed to fit, and nonetheless, it was nice to get out of the office for a mini-vacation.
Dan’s excitement and energy was contagious as he showed me and my friend, Martin, a map of the OFSC trails and explained where we were headed that day. With a brief review of important safety hand signals and operation of the snowmobile, we left the JW Marriott Muskoka and made our way to the trails, located a short distance from the resort.
Riding through Rosseau was breathtaking, and really offered me a different perspective compared to when I rode through the area by motorcycle this past summer . The winding, paved roads I rode on were replaced with sparkling, snow covered trails that snaked through shaded woods and around frozen lakes. The OFSC Trails are easy to navigate and perfect for snowmobilers of all skill levels
The trails were wide and easy to navigate for the beginner rider. Dan was a great guide, stopping occasionally to check-in and give us the opportunity to take pictures of the rolling landscape while educating us about the wildlife in the area.
We proceeded over fresh powder to the Seguin Falls area, and enjoyed a stretch of trail that had some fun curves, hills and dips. Since we were riding mid-week, we pretty much had the trails to ourselves which only added to my ‘Up North Experience.’ My grin stretched across my face as I rode gleefully with the group, not wanting to stop for a break. When we did stop for a break though, it was worth it. Each rest offered me a chance to absorb the picturesque views all around us, and explore some new areas that I would never have known about. Dan brought us to the ghost town of Swords, Ontario, located near Seguin Falls. We took a quick picture in front of the abandoned General Store before getting out of dodge; that town had an eerie feel to it and I wasn’t keen on sticking around to find out why!
Our adventure ended a bit too quickly, but it gave me the adrenaline fix I needed. Crawling into the plush king sized bed at the JW Marriott Muskoka was heaven, and exactly what I needed after a long day of snowmobiling. My muscles were sore the next day, but the feeling was welcomed given the fun we had the day before. Nothing that a quick massage or soak in the resort hot tub couldn’t fix!
Looking back at all the great pictures we took, I was happy that I chose not to buy a snowmobile this winter and to instead enjoy some smaller, but still very impactful trips. The amazing hospitality from staff at the JW Marriott Muskoka and Muskoka Sports & Recreation made my trip a memorable experience and I can’t wait to return again soon!
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