Well, the speckle-belly previously referred to was quite easily gotten – winged and hit in the Flats a short ATV-ride from Minto. It sure was tasty bar-be-qued up in that fine orange marinade. It was also restorative, or more so were the appletinis, when I showed up shell-shocked from a rough ride in and out of Minto Flats in “Goose-Hunting, the Sequel”. Twenty or more miles of travel and only about eight of those on snow, with two snow machines, one of which is now consigned to the bottom of the lake.
Note to self: never again.
Little known fact about snow machines: They can be driven at high rates of speed on rocks, dirt, muskeg, and through ponds and open leads, though admittedly the ride is much smoother on snow.
“They are a tool” said the hardcore NDN as he rocked the machine back and forth, back and forth, mired as it was in several feet of peat bog at 3 AM. It was our only way out (except by foot) for the next 15 miles to the road, with a small, eight-year old boy in tow. The belt was wet and slipping. It burned furiously, spewing sulfurous clouds of smoke and steam that would have done Lucifer proud. We sat on a mound of peat and watched the spectacle, and then helped change the limp, bedraggled belt, hoping that the last one would hold the remaining miles. A dozen geese and some gear in the banged up sled behind us.
I sat under the moonlight and contemplated my latest epiphany – that getting thrown off a snow machine as it caromed down a rutted, gutted, narrow woodland and bog trail – blazing through open ponds, puddles and creeks was really not so bad, and a broken leg, should it happen, would really be quite manageable. In fact, such a rough ride was preferable to the alternative, which we had endured just a little time earlier.
Faced with a vast lake ahead, on which the ice was breaking up fast; we headed out from the cabin at 1 AM – three people on a snow machine, me riding behind the driver, old school Native man, with small boy tucked in up front. Heavy powerful snow machine with gear sled on long chain behind, in case we went through the ice. Ahead glinting in the moonlight, wide stretches of open water, no way around them. Full-open throttle to buck and skim the machine across open water before it could sink. Getting air under my seat every time we hit the rough edge between rotten ice and water, knowing that if I lost my grip, and flew off at 100 mph, I was dead. Feeling the sucking pull at the back end of the machine as it strained to sink even as the wide-open speed counteracted to keep it up on its skis until we could hit the next patch of rotten ice – which shattered and cracked and broke as we raced ahead of the collapsing ice front.
When we reached the shore, I retched.