Outdoors With Bubba

Bubba on SnowPhoto by Dan Cordsen

ON TOP OF THE WORLD -- Page resident Mike Peterson takes a PWC break on the ridge high above Duck Creek. Jerry Puckett has come up with a variation on this publication's theme -- watersports -- and written his "Outdoors With Bubba" column on a very chilly version of it: frozen watersports.

Lake Powell s Frozen Assets

By Jerry "Bubba" Puckett

Greetings from the shores of Lake Powell the red rock repository for the water that flows each spring in liquid form from the high country in Utah, Colorado, parts of Wyoming, New Mexico, and portions of various other states west of the continental divide.

On the strength of that watershed, Lake Powell is quite possibly the greatest place on the planet to engage in watery recreational pursuits, but it s not the only place to enjoy this particular water far from it.

In fact, you need not even wait for Lake Powell s water to take on its familiar watery form and course its way downstream via Powell s tributaries. It s possible to beat the summertime rush and play with the giant desert reservoir s water supply today, long before any pleasure boater or fisherman gets to play in it.

For the sake of this fine publication, let s just call this a rather chilly form of watersports, really chilly as in "frozen watersports."

Back in the good old days in northern New Mexico, it was standard procedure for us to make a weekly migration from our river valley home near Farmington to the high country near Chama, N.M. or Durango, Colo., for the express purpose of enjoying the frozen watersport I mentioned others may choose to call it "snowmobiling."

That was the late 70s, and snowmobiling was really growing as a recreational sport, or at least that was the case there in New Mexico. Horsepower and speed were up as were improved suspensions and electric-start and water-cooled models.

But, it s been nearly 20 years since I ve been on a sled, so to catch up on the latest sled scoop I made a call to a buddy of mine who believes in playing on Lake Powell and Lake Mead s water supply while it s still in a solid state.

Mark Pollard and his wife Heidi spent years in the extreme high snow country in northern Colorado before relocating to Lake Powell. These days, Mark is one of the tour boat pilots for Lake Powell Resorts and Marinas, and Heidi is the manager of the Dangling Rope Marina for the same company.

Bubba Mark, how long have you been a snowmobile fan, and what changes have you seen in equipment in the past years?

Mark Heidi and I have been avid snowmobilers for the past 18 years. You mentioned changes with the sleds, and you are right about that today everyone offers long-track machines with upgraded suspensions that are really great for blasting the powder, and the long track is a real blessing for a big guy like me.

Most models feature independent front suspensions that eat up the moguls and trails and don t forget the horsepower. These days most all makes offer 800cc to 1000cc machines mucho go-power.

Bubba Where do you snowmobile these days, and what is the season for sledding?

Mark The closest area to Lake Powell is also one of the best, so Heidi and I spend a lot of Saturdays over that way during the off-season here at Lake Powell usually from December through early April. It s just 116 miles from my house here at Page to Duck Creek Village in what they call the Strawberry Complex.

That s high country, with some trails topping out at near 10,000 feet above sea level. It s really an amazing area.

You can start from Pinewoods Resort on snowmobiles and visit Cedar Breaks National Monument, Brianhead, Navajo Lake, Panguitch Lake, Red Desert, Mammoth Caves, Ice Caves, Strawberry Point (overlook of Zion) and the Ice Cave.

All in all, there are 225 miles of state-groomed trails there, and hundreds of miles of ungroomed trails awaiting the more experienced rider. By the way, for first timers, Pinewood Resort is located just a mile east of Duck Creek Village and offers everything for beginners, including bibs, helmets, and rentals on brand-new machines.

Bubba Any tips for first-time sledders Mark?

Mark Well, it s always best to research the area, have a map and familiarize yourself with it, carry emergency supplies if you re headed to the backcountry, and of course, seek training before venturing forth. Oh, and my wife Heidi always reminds me that when snowmobiling, tree hugging should be a slow speed sport if all else fails jump into a snow bank; that s always much softer than a tree!

For additional info on trips and snowmobile rentals, contact Cory at Pinewood Resort and Blue Pine Tours, located at Cedar Mountain Village, just off Utah Highway 14, 31 miles east of Cedar City, Utah, or 10 miles from U.S. Highway 89 at Long Valley Junction.

More information is available at 1 (800) 848-2525 or (435) 682-2512 or www.pinewoodsresort.com and www.bluepinetours.com.

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