The outstanding response to our Hotshot contest last month made it tougher than ever for our judges to pick a winner. But they finally decided on the photo (see above) that was taken by Melinda Snider of Tumbler Ridge, B.C.
Snider is an amateur photographer and artist who recently took up the sport of ATVing. She loves exploring the trails, camera in hand, around Tumbler Ridge, so that she can share the experience with those who cannot ride. She’s also an advocate of the “senior ATV experience.” We’ll let Snider explain what that phrase means to her, along with her answers to our questions.
How long have you been an ATVer?
My husband and I have only been quadding since we bought our second-hand machine last fall. Actually, it was too late in the season for quadding and it came with a snow plow, so John, my husband, used it for snow removal during the winter months. We both grew up on the farm and have experience driving a variety of machines, so handling it comes quite naturally.
What do you ride?
A 2005 Suzuki King Quad 700.
What other hobbies do you enjoy?
We have been street riders off and on over the years. One of our favourite machines was an ‘09 Kawasaki 1300 light cruiser. I have always been a passenger on the street machines. I never got around to getting my license. Now financial constraints are holding me back. Our son is a class A motorcycle mechanic and has had machines since he was seven years old. We have had quite a menagerie in our yard over the years. I grew up with a mechanic brother, as well, who was a mentor for my son at a young age and is most likely responsible for turning my son into a grease monkey.
Are you a member of any ATV clubs?
First thing this spring, we joined our local Grizzly Valley ATV Club, here in Tumbler Ridge, and attended our first meeting. As our town is in an economic downturn due to the coal mines having closed and laying off hundreds of workers, many of the past members have had to leave town to seek work elsewhere. This has left the club with fewer members and less participating as executive leaders. I find myself the new secretary of the club and have been working hard to reorganize and get Tumbler on the ATV tourist map.
What is the riding like around Tumbler Ridge?
We have literally hundreds of amazing trails to explore in this area. They range in LOD (level of difficulty) from one to four. I have yet to ride a four myself. If there are fives, I will let someone else enjoy them. We are senior citizens, although I have no idea what that means or HTH we got here. We were always avid hikers, but deteriorating joints are slowing us down. The quad is a godsend! I have become the newest advocate of the senior ATV experience. Never before have we enjoyed the fabulous views and vistas that are now available to use. And I was quite frankly surprised to note that many of our club members are well over the age of 65. We do have younger members and families, as well.
There are hundreds of amazing ATV trails to explore in the Tumbler Ridge area. — Melinda Snider photo
What does the sport mean to you?
As I am an avid photographer and sometime watercolour artist, I revel in the ability to adventure on the road less travelled—to take in sights that the regular Joe might only get to see because I have documented it on film. In addition, I am looking forward to riding with my grandchildren soon as well. They are aged two to six. The six- and five-year-old are quite adept on their dirt bikes already and the three-year-old is handling his own little quad with aplomb. The two-year-old still rides with Mom, while Dad scampers ahead on his bike, keeping an eye on the older two, who have the natural urge to race. Next summer, we will meet up with them in the Waiparous Valley in Alberta, where family riding is quite popular.
Tell us about the day you took this photo.
My son, Steven's Big Red from Transport Honda (which is now Revolution Honda) out of Fort St. John, was used to gain this amazing view overlooking the valleys that sweep up into the imposing peaks of the Continental Divide. One of those peaks the locals here know as the Shark's Fin. This was one of the first trips I took into the backcountry of our local mountain areas around Tumbler Ridge. It was impressive to say the least. The alpine meadow we stood in was dry spongy moss—soft enough to lie down and nap in, except you wouldn't want to crush the millions of tiny flowers, lichens, mosses and shrooms that abound there. The view is breathtaking in a westerly direction and if you follow the ridge to the north, you overlook the Peace River Coal Mine. Standing at that elevation, the haul trucks look like teeny dinky toys. We drove up and then hiked around a bit until the wind came whipping up the slope toward us out of the mountains. It was mid-summer, but the glacial wind effect had us freezing in our light jackets, so we ducked into a lee on the easterly side to enjoy our lunch. When my son looked over the tip to check his machine he suddenly took off at a dead run to save Big Red. Not having engaged the parking brake, the strength of the wind was pushing the machine toward the edge, which is a deadly drop off. Luckily, he got there in time and that was another lesson learned about exploring on the high elevations.
Is there anything else you’d like to add?
Riding has become our weekend relaxation. There is nothing quite like climbing the highest peaks in the region, touching the sky, looking over and beyond valleys to distant snow-clad peaks of ever-increasing heights. Peaks beckon and say, “Come, explore; feel the wind in your hair. Reach out and touch the clouds and revel in your freedom. Be rejuvenated!” Tumbler Ridge is a place where we can do just that. Oh, did I remember to tell you about all the wildlife? Perhaps that’s a story for another time . . .