Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Snowmobiling in Logan Valley, Utah

Snowmobiling in Logan Canyon

On Christmas day my son and I went snowmobiling from Beaver Creek Lodge. This is the first time we tried snowmobiling. After minimal instruction we were on our way. I started off slowly, trying to get a feel for it. Although the trails were groomed they were very bumpy. Also it was easy to catch an edge, like in skiing.The surroundings were beautiful as we rode through the Cache Mountain Range in Logan Valley. The area we were riding was near Bear Lake and the Beaver Creek Ski Area. This is the north east corner of Utah, bordering Idaho. Initially we rode through trails and up the mountain. We came to a basin that was like a snow field. Here we were able to open up the snowmobile and get used to it. We came upon a dog sled, which was very cool.

After I felt comfortable on the snowmobile and we were in another snow basin I let my son Max, who is 15 1/2 try to drive. Being the passanger was not nearly as much fun as driving. th operation is fairly easy. There is a throttle on the right grip of the handlebar and a hand brake on the left handlebar grip. Generally all you need to do is let go of the throttle and snowmobile will stop. So, in a sense it's as easy as a golf cart. The skis and the terrain makes it different. Max did a good job. He listened when I would tell himm to slowdown or move to the middle of the trail. I let him open it up on a flat, smooth snow field. We then rode several miles down a straight trail and stopped. We got off and walked off the trail to soak in a beautiful view.

I immediately learned that the snow was much deeper than I had anticipated. At the lodge, it was a few inches. We warned to watched for clear spots, but up here in the mountains it was a different story. I sunk to my waist in the snow. After digging, Max found same sage and explained to me how he can use it make a spindle to start a fire. As we were talking the dog sled approached us again.

After this I resumed driving. We headed back, but did a loop up the mountain. We went up a steep winding pass and came back to where we had been earlier.When we approached another basin Max asked to drive. Now I knew that technically he wasn't supposed to operated the vehicle. The age limit is 16, but I was thinking it must be such a drag to be 15 1/2 and stuck behind your dad for 4 hours. I also thought it would be good for him to learn how to drive the snowmobile away from traffic as he was getting close to the age for driving a car. I also think this is what most guys would do. As my wife has reminded me, our sex often makes bad decisions. In this case, blinded by testostorone, horsepower and the smell of gasoline, I did make a bad decision. Even though Max was doing a good job driving, I didn't think about what would happen when some little thing would go wrong. We were riding through a wooded trail that had been heavily traveled as evidenced by all of the tracks. There was a fairly steep drop off on the right, but other wise it was a fairly simple trail. As we were riding, Max was keeping a reasonable speed. The right ski caught an edge on something, perhaps a rock or a deep track. It forced the snowmobile sharply to the right and off the trail. Max let off the throttle as he was supposed to, but unfortunately we were headed straight down a steep ravine. Max couldn't turn the handle bar quickly enough or get the brake to stop us, but he did slow us down. It was as if it was happening in slow motion. We were headed straight for a tree, but since we were going slow we didn't seem to hit too hard. It was as if we were on a taboggan. Neither of us was injured, but the snowmobile looked bad. The right ski looked crushed and the windshield came off. The first thing we tried to do was to back up the snowmobile, but it was stuck. We tried pulling, but it wouldn't budge. I checked my cell phone to call for help, but there was no service. Then a group of snowmobilers who had rented with us came by. One of the guys said he could give one of us a ride. So I sent Max on to get help. A few minutes later a group of three snowmobilers came by and offered help. They were obviously very experienced. They extricated the vehicle: 1,2,3 and had it back on the trail. The ski popped back into place and the windshield is designed to pop off and it easily went back in place. They did find a crack to the front bumper and the snowmobile was running a little funny. They looked under the hood and found that piece that went to the exhaust shifted a little. We couldn't fix it there because we didn't have tools. They said it was a simple repair. I was on my way. The snowmobile was louder and I was breathing a little exhaust, but I was able to drive it the 11 or so miles back.

Unfortunately when I got back I learned that I hadn't totally dodged the bullet. Several parts needed to be replaced. The bad news was that the estimate was $1800. The good news was that I spent an extra $15 to get insurance. The bad news was the deductible is $600. All an all we had an interesting adventure. Fun in parts, beautiful in parts, frightening parts and expensive because of broken parts. $200 dollars for the rental, clothes, equipment, insurance and gas, plus the damage for a grand total of $800.

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