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Boondocking Basics

Sledders explore top secret territory in Canada
RELATED TOPICS: SNOWMOBILE TRAVEL | CANADA | TRAVEL | BACKCOUNTRY
Wawa, Ontario, Canada snowmobile
What does it mean to boondock? Aside from being a fun word to say, it has several meanings and definitions depending on who you talk to. For some, it means to camp in your RV without services; for others it’s a company that makes tricked-up, turbo-charged parts for your sled to give you the extra boost you need. And for those die-hard sledders, recreational users and everyone in between, it’s a term we use simply to describe riding off-trail in fresh pow.

After a recent trip to Wawa, Ontario, I learned the true definition of what boondocking meant. With some help from boondocking expert, Russ Jones, and some reading material on a mysterious “Top Secret Boondocking” location in the area just north of Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, I felt I was ready to rock.

Boondocking means to explore the unknown and challenge yourself at the same time. As Russ told me, anything goes when in Top Secret Boondocking territory. As a trail rider from Ontario with some backcountry mountain experience under my belt, I felt I was ready to try something different. Sure this wasn’t big mountain insanity, but I also learned that the area was much larger than I originally thought, both in terms of square acreage and height. Wawa is a township located in Algoma County that consists of hundreds of thousands of untouched acres at altitudes of 1,600 feet, which is an outdoor enthusiast’s paradise. Located only a few hours from Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan, crossing makes this a fun place to visit for those looking to check out another area (albeit at a lower cost, and same distance from the border) than the frequently visited Upper Peninsula.
Wawa, Ontario, Canada snowmobile
Top Secret Boondocking: The concept was created as a way to foster intrigue and curiosity around boondocking itself. A website promoting this area uses cheeky Canadian humor to capture visitors from both sides of the border to join them in some boondocking fun out in Wawa. While staying at the Wawa Motor Inn, a hot spot for travellers, I met a group of die-hard sled heads from Michigan (called Team Fascho) who encompassed the passion, enthusiasm and commitment to boondocking out in the backcountry. With some top secret missions in mind, they ventured out to conquer some of the untouched backcountry areas suggested to them by locals. Each night, they debriefed about their day of riding while enjoying some beverages, looking at the pictures and videos, and making the occasional social media post, complete with funny hashtags begging for corporate sponsorship. It was from this crew that I was able to really wrap my head around what the boondocking culture and lifestyle was all about, which led me to create the boondocking basics list for anyone wanting to venture to Wawa or beyond.

To learn more about boondocking in Algoma County, start your adventure by visiting topsecretboondocking.com
Wawa, Ontario, Canada snowmobile
What you need to know

1) Tracks of 153” or longer are best for powder riding.
2) Talk to a local – Get info on snow conditions before you head out.
3) Check out a map – Before you ride, it’s always good to have a general idea of where you are headed and where main roads are in case you need to get out fast.
4) GPS – Download a GPS app on your phone (i.e. Lead Nav) or have a standalone GPS and satellite radio for areas with no service.
5) Tell someone – Give someone staying back a heads up on where you are riding in case they need to come out looking for you.
6) Ride with at least two people – Never go out alone, that’s just silly.
7) Bring the essentials – Snacks, water, first aid kit, avy gear, tow kit, etc. Anything can happen even in lower altitude areas.
8) Bring more than the essentials – That means rope, shovel, winch, saw, zip ties ...
9) Take pictures and share the shenanigans – You never know when photo evidence of buddy getting stuck could come in handy later!
10) Make memories – Meet new people and stay in touch with them for years to come! Boondocking brings people together.
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