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Pa. snowmobilers have excellent adventure

March 03, 2005|by DON AINES

chambersburg@herald-mail.com

CHAMBERSBURG, PA. - A cross-country trip can be a leisurely way to see the sights, but four local men and a fifth from New England recently took a less-traveled path, covering approximately 2,000 miles through Minnesota, Ontario and Quebec on snowmobiles.

Dale Forrester, cousin Steve Forrester, Barry Dice and Steve Lowery, joined by Joe Edwards of Island Falls, Maine, set out from Thief River Falls, Minn., - the home of Arctic Cat snowmobiles - on the first Saturday of February to go as far east as the snow would take them. Over 10 days, three of the friends covered 1,993 miles along the Intracontinental Trail System, with two others adding another 300 miles or so to Edwards' home in Maine.

The trip had been one Dale Forrester, owner of Forrester Lincoln-Mercury in Chambersburg, had wanted to make since he took up the sport in the early 1980s.

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"I wanted to tour the plant, buy a snowmobile and drive it home," Forrester said. "We all turned 40 this year and we figured we had to do it."

Four of the five purchased Arctic Cats at a dealership near the plant and picked them up on arrival, while Edwards bought a Ski-Doo and had it shipped to Minnesota for the trip.

"He told me this spring he wanted to do it and I said, 'Count me in,'" said Dice, owner of D&L Golf in Shippensburg, Pa.

"Our biggest fear was cold weather. Bitter cold weather," Dale Forrester said.

Canada, however, is experiencing a mild winter, much like the continental United States. During their 10 days on the trail, it did not snow and there was little snow on the ground.

"It's hard on the equipment, to say the least," Forrester said. Steve Forrester, owner of a logging business in Shippensburg, said he sometimes mounted wheels on his skids when getting close to towns.

They experienced some breakdowns and minor accidents along the way, but nothing serious, they said. The journey was made without any support crew to get them out of a jam, Dale Forrester said.

"Somebody planted a tree in my way and I bumped into it," Lowery, the owner of Gipe's Transmission in Chambersburg, said of one mishap. "Our navigation skills were put to the test" along some more remote portions of the trail system, said Lowery, who got on a snowmobile for the first time for a trip last year.

The trip covered 170 miles north through Minnesota, then 900 miles through Ontario and the balance through Quebec, before three of the five re-entered this country near the New York-Vermont border at Lake Champlain, Dale Forrester said. They had hoped to get farther south, "but we ran out of snow," he said.

"All the way across, we had some days where we almost ran out of snow," Dice said.

The western portion of the trip took them through the plains, where winds carried what little snow there was to pile up along fence and tree lines, Dale Forrester said. The terrain became more mountainous in eastern Ontario and western Quebec before leveling out again, he said.

They stayed in hotels along their route, although lodging was hard to find on a couple of nights in the sparsely populated region.

Dale Forrester said they came upon one town where the hotels were booked because of a hockey tournament. On another night, the men found a hotel near an Indian reservation was booked, so they had to travel another 90 miles or so to get rooms, Steve Forrester said.

The farthest they traveled in any day was 340 miles, Dale Forrester said.

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