(EDITOR'S NOTE-Because of its participation at the Idaho Snowmobile Show, the Cougar Mountain Snowmobile Club earned a right to have one of its club rides featured in SnoWest Magazine.)
One of the prerequisites of being a snowmobiler is being able to tell a good story.
And the Cougar Mountain Club's members got a lifetime of stories after their annual ride in Stanley, ID, last February.
It seemed as if the club's unofficial motto for the weekend ride was "Stanley or bust," with an emphasis on the bust part. There were plenty of breakdowns during the three-day ride to go around and the resulting stories will be told for years to come, many of which have already be recounted several times.
But that's just part of the fun of snowmobiling and the Cougar Mountain Club knows how to have fun.
We caught up with the club during its annual ride, which this past winter was in picturesque Stanley.
The Cougar Mountain Club didn't just show up in Stanley and ride for three days, though. Most of the club members snowmobiled into town from either Warm Lake or Lowman on Friday. Saturday's ride was around Stanley and then the group headed out on Sunday back to their starting points. For those who rode from Warm Lake, that's a pretty good haul and a gas truck met them part way so the group could refuel before riding the last few miles into town.
It was a little hard to get a head count as to how many showed up for the ride, as the club split up into groups for the weekend of riding. One person put the head count at 40 but we suspect it was a few more than that.
It was unusually warm in Stanley the weekend of the Cougar Mountain Club's ride. Stanley is usually one of the coldest places in Idaho and when you see temps in the high 40s you know that's unusual. But all who made the trip enjoyed the snow and spectacular sun.
We got a little seat time in on Friday afternoon with a small group of riders who drove to Stanley to bring the rest of the club's gear so the riders didn't have to haul it with them. As it turns out, perhaps with the gear should have come some snowmobile parts. But that's all part of the story.
One of the groups arrived late in the afternoon with another showing up in early evening. A small reception with snacks and drinks was held and by then the stories had already starting flowing.
The next day's ride (Saturday) just added to the stable of stories that could be told. Again, the club split up into smaller groups so that it wasn't one big herd moving from Point A to Point B. That allowed the groups that wanted to move at a faster pace to do so while others that wanted to meander could do that, too.
The group we joined for the day dwindled a bit as the day wore on as sled problems forced several to return to Stanley for repairs. A couple of riders even headed back to the vehicles left behind in Warm Lake to fetch some parts so one rider could make it back out on Sunday. That's about a 200-mile round trip via sled.
The rest of the group had a great time playing on the hills that surround the valley which Stanley Creek flows through. We even managed to find some untracked snow, which was somewhat of an accomplishment considering it had been a while between snow storms and the snow had seen its fair share of sledders. On such a warm day, the snow was the best in the trees and on east and north facing slopes. It was good enough that several managed to get stuck-which, you guessed it, just gives more stories to tell.
A full day of riding (for those who managed to not "bust"), a nice supper and plenty of stories ended Saturday's ride. Sunday it was back to the various groups' starting places and then home to wait for next year's annual club ride.
The Cougar Mountain Snowmobile Club has roughly 80 members, most of whom are from southwest Idaho and are very active in the club, including the annual fun run, which is usually held in January. The club's home base, if you will, is the Wellington Sno Park near Smith's Ferry, ID. The namesake of the club, Cougar Mountain, is just south of the sno park, which is just south of Smith's Ferry on the North Fork of the Payette River.
For more information on the club, visit www.cougarmt.com