by CONRAD BROERSMA and EVAN MATTHEWS
The Valemount Canadian Rangers (JCRs) are gaining some hands-on experience in the backcountry.
Over the weekend of Jan. 27 – 29, the JCRs went out into the bush to take the Canadian Safety Council Course for snowmobiles. The JCRs spent the past few weeks scouting the local areas for a suitable spot and watching the weather, and hoping for some reasonable temperatures.
With help from YORA President Patricia Thoni, the Camp Creek area was chosen, as it had a suitable training ground, a cabin for the JCRs to sleep in, and access to snowmobile trails — providing the group avoided the cross country ski trails.
The JCRs spent Friday afternoon loading up the necessary gear, ultimately making their way out to Camp Creek and setting up camp.
“We met our instructors, Canadian Ranger Dave Bjorkman, and Canadian Ranger Tom Nickel of the 100 Mile Canadian Ranger Patrol, as well as Warrant Officer, Gord Cutting, and our own JCR instructor Warrant Officer, Ray Corfield from Headquarters,” says Conrad Broersma, Valemount JCRs leader.
The snowmobiles were supplied by Spectra Power Sports out of Williams Lake, according to Broersma, and the JCRs stared at them in anticipation.
Saturday morning started just before 6 AM with a few of the JCR’s cooking a hearty breakfast of pancakes and fresh fruit. By 8 AM, they were listening attentively as the instructors began the lessons starting with snowmobile safety, proper equipment and a pre-ride checklist.
Once the JCRs could demonstrate they knew the necessary theory, they were each assigned a snowmobile and went over it checking the fluid levels, track, safety switches, and practicing changing out the belt. Following pre-ride checks, the JCR’s mounted their snowmobiles and practiced moving forward and reverse. Once basic movement was mastered, it was off to the track where they rode in different patterns around cones.
Then they were off for a quick trail ride. For dinner, the adults were in for a treat, as it was the JCRs responsibility to cook supper, which were burritos with several different styles of beans. By 5:45 PM, supper was finished and some were asking to go to bed.
Sunday was all about putting what they had learned about safe riding skills into practice, including riding up and down hills, traversing a hill and turning around on a hill, and the JCRs had help
with this from Will Chitty, another Canadian Ranger.
As with all weekends, the anti-climactic ending was the cleanup and leaving the site in better shape than what they found, which was hard to do at Camp Creek, as it’s so well-maintained.
The JCRs’ next exercise is only six weeks away and the kids will be learning winter survival skills, including building snow shelters.