By Tobi Laurion, proud member of the Seven Lakes Snowmobile Club
Wow! What more could we ask for? Five feet of snow, well groomed trails, decent weather, breathtaking views, wildlife galore, unforgettable friendships, many laughs, lots of shopping, visiting many local eateries, and most of all…amazing snowmobiling!
I keep saying to myself, “it just can’t get any better!” But, by golly, somehow it does. Our 2016 trip to West Yellowstone showed how truly possible it is. No year is ever the same, but gee whiz, I just can’t imagine it being this awesome every single time. No Joke!
We took two groups this year, back-to-back, staying six nights and seven days with a full five-days of snowmobiling between them, and one of the days was spent riding in Yellowstone National Park. The snow was plentiful this year and we had a lot of wildlife on our trail, which I knew was going to be awesome from my past experience. We had to stop for many buffalo, some so close you could have reached out and touched them. One person, not to mention any names, “Joyce,” literally got surrounded by them. They even brushing up against her. What a story to be told and she even has the photos to prove it!
The elk were gorgeous and large. We had to pull over to let a bull elk walk right past us. He had every reason to strut his stuff. He had a rack on him that was quite impressive and I think he knew it, the way he just gently walked and gazed at us. The photos were dynamite. He was so close to us that in a few videos you could hear his hoofs pounding on the snow trail. It was a fantastic experience for all of us.
Other animals we encountered throughout our trail ride were coyotes, foxes, rabbit, eagles, swans, muskrats, moose, a variety of water fowl and many small rodents. It’s always exciting when you see various types of wildlife on the trail. You get a feeling that comes over you and you wonder, “is this real or am I dreaming?” I just have to thank the Big Guy above for blessing us with such beauty. To be able to have so many various experiences on one trip is just overwhelming at times. It leaves you in a state of aw.
The real reason why I do this year after year is for all the newbies. To be able to watch someone’s expressions as they experiencing their first encounter with a buffalo is an unforgettable thing. The joy and happiness that one expresses is addicting and never gets old. Men and woman come every year with hugs, some even with tears in their eyes, because they never in a million years would have believed that this trip to West Yellowstone would be so wonderful. It’s unforgettable, it’s a memory that I get to share with them.
It is not only the riding that makes this trip so spectacular, it truly is the people. No matter your age, we are all there because of our love for snowmobiling. The group mixes and mingles so easily and we make conversation with one another as if we knew that person for years. It is a trip of a lifetime and is something everyone needs to experience at least once in their life.
There is no picture that anyone could possibly take to give you that feeling of you literally being there. It is a place that needs to be experienced and seen with the naked eye. You owe it to yourself to visit. It is a place that you will call heaven. Once up on top of those mountains, you can see for miles and miles, especially on top of Two Top Mountain, overlooking the Grand Tetons. It is one of the most breathtaking views I have seen in my entire life. A place that you would think you had died and gone to heaven. It is that spectacular!
This trip was very special this year because I had many family members and friends that decided to go, and for them to finally see and experience what I have been doing for years was exciting. I will forever be grateful to be able to enjoy this once in a lifetime experience with them.
A couple other newbies I would like to mention are Mad Mike and Billy Bob, a couple of friends that decided to go, and boy thanks to them we got to see which one was the craziest! Mad Mike not only climbed Big Sky once, he did it twice. And the excitement he felt when he made it to top and back down safely was as exciting for all of us. Boy, those two guys can ride.
Another couple of guys that stood out were retired friends, Richard and Bill. These gentleman totally enjoyed their experience, and it’s another reason why I do it year after year. I was so glad that they got to experience such a wonderful stress-free week.
My crazy-girl Sarah from up North, who is 75-years “young” can probably outride any 30-year-old stud. It sure opened my eyes! I wondered how much longer I can do this trip, but holy moly, I hope to have another 30 years in me. Thanks for providing the possibility, Sarah. I just hope I look as good as her in the years to come.
Bobby and Carol, my two siblings, joined us this year. Carol never had much experience riding a snowmobile but really enjoyed herself. Her inexperience gave us all a big laugh. She thought others riding by her on the trail were super friendly, by giving her a big wave, a fist pump, and sometimes even the peace sign. I was behind and watched her wave back to them all. I’m saying to myself, “Oh my God, she thinks all these people are waving to her.” The fact was, they are actually communicating the number of riders behind the lead rider. She just thought everyone was so kind and being friendly as they waved, when in reality she didn’t know the etiquette of hand signals.
I learned a good lesson as the group leader and from now on will mention to people what to do when we come upon other snowmobilers in a group, especially if they are unexperienced. For the record, the ones giving you a peace sign are actually signaling that there are two more sleds coming. It is stories like that keep me coming back.
If Yellowstone sounds contact Tobi