Riley Harris is no stranger to riding trails around Swan River, Manitoba.
The 25-year-old employee of Northern Leisure and Power Products in Swan River has been riding on a quad for over a decade and has found no shortage of places he can ride.
“Pick a direction,” Harris said. “You can go in any direction anywhere and find a nice trail. We’ve got Duck Mountain and the Porcupine Mountains, Kettle Hills and the Thunder Hill area. I don’t know which one I’d have to say I like best."
Harris recalls one ride in particular. It was a planned trip to the Jumper Plains with his cousin and two other friends.
“It’s a pretty interesting spot south of town,” he said. “You go back into the bush and it’s kind of a wide open area. It almost looks like somebody’s come, dug a hole and put the dirt beside the hole. There’s a bunch of mounds and deep holes. People just love going back there to cruise around and catwalk everywhere."
Making the trip to Jumper Plains
Harris’s original plan was to visit the popular recreation site, but they never actually made it.
“It was supposed to be a fun, short trip,” he said. “We got off work at 5 p.m., got everything ready, got there—by the time we were getting off the trucks and leaving, it was probably 5:30 p.m.”
Harris said it should take only about three or four hours to get in and out, if you take the right direction.
“We got going but we weren’t sure which trail we were supposed to turn on,” he said. “There are so many different trails you can go down—little hunting trails and everything that people have made. So we got a little lost—never ended up getting to Jumper Plains.”
When travel plans go astray
Harris said the true fun started after his group got lost.
“I was on my 250 Suzuki, another guy was on a little quad and my cousin and another friend were in his Polaris Razor side-by-side,” said Harris. “The one quad was stuck and my cousin’s Polaris Razer got stuck on a stump. We couldn’t get it off. My quad didn’t have enough power to pull him off the stump and the other guy was so far in a swamp that we didn’t think anybody was going to get him.”
This left one quad to ride out of the trails and four people who needed a ride out of the bush.
“There were four guys who all piled onto my Suzuki, my little 250,” Harris said. “I sat on the seat, two guys sat on the box of my quad and the one guy sat on the front rack. He removed the headlight off the handlebars and was holding it in front of him so he wasn’t blocking the light for us to drive out of the bush.”
Making the trek home
The trip out of the bush was rough going. Harris explained some of the riders couldn’t deal with the slow pace.
“Two of them decided to start walking because it was too hard for all four of us to sit on the bike,” Harris said. “That was until we saw some fresh wolf tracks. Then they decided jumping back on the bike would be the better idea.”
Finally, 4:30 a.m. arrived and the four riders made it back to their trucks and made the trip back to town.
“My cousin got me back home and then by the time I got to sleep, it was probably 5:30 a.m. and all of us had to work the next day,” Harris said. “It was supposed to be just a short trip, but it didn’t turn out to be so short.”
Getting Lost can be a great experience
Riley Harris has been riding a quad for over a decade, but as his trip to Jumper Plains proved, not every trip goes as planned. Harris advises looking past potential slip-ups and enjoying the moment.
“Getting home at 5:30 a.m. wasn’t exactly the best, but quadding is always fun,” he said. “It’s just an escape from everything. There’s no city life, there’s no town life, there’s no nothing. To me, I don’t really care if there’s a breakdown or not. Go out there and have fun. I’ve had a quad that I’ve left in the bush myself. There’s always a way to get home.”