Sunday, December 10, 2006

On the Subject of Snowmobiles...

I had my first ride on a snowmobile the other day. It was frightening to say the least, except for the parts where I was driving and Nathan was tucked behind me away from the controls. I do not have need for speed. Up in the North, the snowmobile is a normal part of everyday life. Most people don't have a car, and most people don't need a car, as a car can not be driven out onto the land to hunt.

I would like to share with you what a snowmobile is like mind, body and soul. It smells like burning gasoline, feels like frozen leather (except for the acceleration pedal, a lever your thumb presses, that part gets really hot), and most importantly it gets you from point A to point B, where the baguettes are fresher and less expensive. The sound of a snowmobile can best be described as a very loud and irritating lawn mower and at night time when the air is is clean and fresh, you can hear every single snowmobile in town and it sounds like the 401 has opened a lawnmower lane! And because the snowmobile is so flexibly moved, there are new paths formed, where there were no paths before. Our neighbours have a snowmobile route that was forged right next to their house, it gets pretty noisy. Block the path you say? Well it's just not that simple. Think of a snowmobile as a renegade machine that goes where it wants, when it wants! If thou path be blocked, it will forcefully be pathed a new, so don't bother pissing off the locals. Nathan and I are extremely lucky though, we managed to get a place off the beaten path and rarely have any one driving around our place, it stays pretty quiet.

This morning Nath lent one of the RCMP snowmobiles to help the search for some lost hunters. It's an incredible idea that would seem scary to anyone from the south. Some people get up one day and decide to go hunting, get dressed, hop on their snowmobiles or dog sleds and head out onto the land. Not just any land, a land with out pit stops or hotels, and more importantly a land without gas stations along the way. These hunters will go out for days at a time and survive in 100Km/h winds and -40C temperatures in only what they have on. I heard a story (this took place in the south) on the news the other day of a family getting lost in the wilderness after running out of gas. The husband tried to make it to a local town to save his family, but died along the way, after only one day of exposure(of probably pretty moderate temperatures). I also heard as story of a group of inuit hunters(from our town) getting trapped on a piece ice heading out to sea. They had all been soaked through after a wave had hit them and still they managed to stay alive for days until they were rescued. It's just incredible the difference in how exposure effects people. But I credit the people up north with a certain cold toughness.

In the Meantime, back to the individuals who were lost today, there is this group up here called the "Rangers", a bunch of local people who know the land very well, and they will travel out on their snow mobiles looking for the lost ones. Nathan came home at lunch and said that they were at least a day out, hopefully they will all make it hope safely. If I know one thing, its that there ain't no Hilton out there, and the sun is almost gone. It's life or death out there and that's not just a saying.

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