We were up well before sunrise last Friday. We hooked onto the trailer full of snowmobiles and pointed ourselves to the southeast corner of Minnesota. In heavy winds and bitter cold, we pulled a 2024 Ski-Doo Backcountry and 2024 Polaris Indy XCR three hours southeast. We were trying to catch the remnants of a storm that mainly blanketed Iowa and southern Wisconsin in our area before moving further east and blessing folks in Michigan and eventually the Northeast.
Over the course of the day, we passed through far too many plowed fields that were only partially covered due to the drifting caused by high winds. The ditches were full, but in other parts of our ride we were fighting the handlebars against the friction caused by frozen plowed fields. We found some trails with decent coverage in the middle of the day, and thoroughly enjoyed the people with whom we rode.
But then, on the way home, major problems with the trailer we were towing on icy roads further extended our day. It turned into a v-e-r-y long day for the benefit of just 60 miles of riding.
The sick part? We couldn’t wait to do it again!
Let’s Go Snowmobiling, Again
So, we were out the door before sunrise once again on Monday. This time we’d tow a 2024 Polaris Switchback XC and a 2024 Ski-Doo Renegade Blizzard with Enduro Package on more icy roads three hours north. We unloaded at the trailhead lot just inland from Two Harbors, Minnesota. The truck thermometer said it was minus 8 degrees, and a bitter wind was howling.
This time the trail was rather bumpy right out the chute. The CJ Ramstad North Shore State Trail had plenty of snow. However, the groomers were yet to work it into shape for the first time this season. That meant all remnants of the weekend traffic was there for us to, um, enjoy!
For 25 miles, we tried to time the bumps and enjoy the ride. It allowed us to work up a sweat, which was good. We were also still fresh so it was easy to deal with – especially in a slow-starting winter like this season.
Then we came to the intersection with the absolutely wondrous Moosewalk trails, where fresh groomer marks greeted us! Oh, what fun we had in the next 20 miles. We weaved between snow-covered trees, past high overlooks and eventually caught up to a groomer operator. We gave him a hearty wave and then continued.
The trail got a bit rougher for a while but it was still generally decent riding. Then we met a second, on-coming groomer. It all seemed too good to be true. Frankly, we wanted to run the Moosewalk trails a couple more times. But out of respect to the groomers and the trails they were trying to perfect, we returned to the North Shore State Trail.
That trail was even more rugged than we remembered as we started working our way south, back toward the Two Harbors lot. The daylight gave way to dusk about the same time our goggles started to freeze on the inside. When we stopped to try to fix the goggles, our hands started to freeze into a claw.
The last five miles or so were frankly rather harsh — the limited visibility, very cold air and rutted trails combined to wear on us. Changing out of our riding gear at the trailhead in the biting wind drove a chill to the core of our being. We joked about our desire to work in the warm-weather boating market instead. After my face started to thaw when driving toward home on more icy roads, I realized I’d given myself a new frostbite scar. If it’s true that “chicks dig scars,” apparently nobody explained that to my wife!
Now way behind schedule, we wolfed down gas station food for dinner on the drive home. We had also eaten gas station food for brunch on the way up. (It being Monday, we knew most restaurants up there would be closed). When we got home, everybody in the family was asleep, but we still had multiple tasks to accomplish to wrap up the day. When we climbed into the truck Tuesday morning with stiff muscles, it still smelled of Kwik Trip chicken strips.
The sick part? We can’t wait to do it again!
On the drive home Monday night, Steve and I talked extensively about what a great time we had, and how we couldn’t to do it again. I’ve been checking in on snow condition maps all day. We’ve still got some Arctic Cat and Yamaha sleds to break-in.
If you’re a hardcore snowmobiler like me who is willing to go riding at the drop of a hat no matter the conditions, go take a look in the mirror. There is something SERIOUSLY wrong with that person looking back at you! We brave sub-arctic conditions, burn through cash, beat the snot out of ourselves sometimes and keep coming back for more!
That really speaks to the glory of snowmobiling. There truly is nothing else like it. If you truly love it, even “bad” days of riding are some of the best days of the year.
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