Hook and bullet club - Snowmobiling

TRAIL STOP - Evan Wognum, Nella Foy, Mary Wognum, Bev Groteboer, Brad Pearse, Steve Groteboer and Kelsey Pearse take a break along the trail system in the Crane Lake to Ash River area.

This is the winter we’ve all been waiting for but now that it’s here, some can’t wait for it to be over.
With trails in the best shape they’ve been in possibly ever, we have been able to get out and do some snowmobiling this year.
With sleds that are now 15 years old, any ride we go on carries the distinct possibility that a machine will break down.
Our first trip of the season was with my cousins from England. We didn’t put on many miles that day but the ice was broken, in a good way.
We trailered up to Crane Lake and rode the trails there on a Saturday. Joining Mary and I were Evan and his girlfriend Nella along with friends Steve and Bev Groteboer along with Brad and Kelsey Pearse. Seven sleds for eight people, a breakdown was more than likely.
Amazingly all seven sleds put on over 80 miles and made it back to the trailers. I did cause a small crash when I stopped to look at an animal running along the ice in a flowage. I knew when my sled lurched forward I should’ve pulled off the trail first. So we went home with a broken hood on one machine.
Megan, Evan and I took a ride around the Chainsaw Sisters Loop (a.k.a. the Grassy Loop) on a Sunday afternoon.
We had cruised up the Dead River and were riding through powder on East Twin when my belt blew into a million pieces. Evan played mechanic and I picked up bits of belt from the inside of the sled.
We made the rest of the loop without a hitch, although a stop for a Snickers and a Dr. Pepper at Chainsaw Sisters would’ve made for a better ride.
A few weeks later Mary and I rode out to the shack to spend an afternoon shoveling and roof razoring. Again the machines survived the trip. We did see a guy who had his machine pointed straight down into a small river where the ice was thinner than he thought it was. Sure was glad it was him and not me.
I did have to fetch one of our sleds up the Echo Trail two weekends ago when it overheated. The cause? A stud from a rip in the track went through the cooling unit. Steve and I worked on his sled years ago when a similar thing happened to him.
I remember drilling out tons of rivets and basically disassembling the snowmobile.
“I think they take the cooling unit and build the snowmobile around it,” Steve said at the time.
Fearing a similar repair job on a 15 year-old snowmobile, I may resort to the bush fix of using JB Weld to stop the leak and hope it holds.
I’ve already had to replace the bolts connecting the Y-pipe in the exhaust system to the engine on my sled. This wasn’t too bad but not much fun either. Unless of course you like bloody knuckles and dropping bolts and springs into the Twilight Zone area under the engine. Thank God for magnets on flexible shafts.
If you haven’t had a chance to get out and ride the snowmobile trails this winter, find some time. Even on a Saturday afternoon the heavily traveled Taconite Trail has been in great shape along with the Tomahawk Trail that runs from Ely to the North Shore.
Who knows when we will get another winter like this one. I know, it’s not for everyone and even I have been grumbling about shoveling snow. But hey, it’s still a great place to live and play.
Enjoy it while you can.