The snowmobiling community is like a second family to longtime Williams Lake Powder Kings Snowmobile Club volunteer and director Gilbert Quesnelle.
Quesnelle has worked on, groomed and maintained the Williams Lake Powder Kings’ PK Trail connecting Chimney Lake to the Gold Rush Snowmobile Trail at Lac La Hache for more than 20 years, and also co-ordinated and built the Yank’s Peak Safety Cabin.
He was also instrumental in getting the now widely-used PK Trail officially registered by the government.
A resident at Chimney Lake, Quesnelle moved to the Cariboo in 1970 with his mom and dad from his family’s home in Falkland.
An avid skier since the age of 12, Quesnelle wanted to be able to enjoy the outdoors with his wife of 30 years, Debbie Dunn, which, ultimately, drew the couple to snowmobiling.
“We got into sledding and I got into the backcountry stuff,” he said. “As we got into it more and more, we were riding a lot more than skiing.”
Around 1995, Quesnelle was introduced to then Williams Lake Powder Kings members Jamie MacKay and Gordon Rauch.
While not a director at the time, Quesnelle offered his services as a contractor and home builder to help with the safety cabin and clearing of the PK Trail.
“Most of the PK Trail was skid trail and old logging roads, so we just tied it all together,” he said. “I GPS’d it, took the forestry guys around so we could register it … about 10 years ago Desi (Cheverie of Recreation Sites and Trails) got involved and got that all done.”
One of the highlights for Quesnelle annually is hosting the 90-mile, guided round-trip ride from his home at Chimney Lake to Ten-ee-ah Lodge, which sees roughly 30-45 people participate each year.
Asked what he enjoys about volunteering, and snowmobiling, Quesnelle said he loves being out in the backcountry and seeing wildlife.
“You can get to a lot of places you can’t get into with a quad, or a pickup truck,” he said.
The Yank’s Peak Safety Cabin, meanwhile, was built in 1998 after two years of co-ordination in four weeks — thanks to the work of Quesnelle, many community donors and about 25 club volunteers.
When he’s not snowmobiling, Quesnelle said he enjoys sailing, water skiing and skiing. He also owns his own company, Giblet Construction Ltd.
He was also a volunteer with Central Cariboo Search and Rescue for roughly eight years when they needed someone knowledgeable and reliable in the backcountry when snowmobile assistance was needed.
“With snowmobiling you find a family,” he said.
“That’s what I enjoy the most.”