Hook and Bullet Club

Saturday we joined a group of ATVers on a ride up the Echo Trail. It was a beautiful day and the ride turned out to be a great way to get outside this spring.
We started with nine machines and picked up four more along the Echo Trail at the Keen residence. All told we had 23 people and two puppies on the ride. The pups were a big hit.
Our first stop was just past North Arm Road where a puppy needed to be transferred to a warmer rig. With that accomplished, the group loaded back up and headed north. Next stop was at Ed Shave Lake.
We didn’t have a meeting place for Bruce and Tracy, who had left Crane Lake about the same time we left Ely. Ed Shave turned out to the meeting point and our group grew to 14 machines with 11 side by sides and three traditional ATVs.
St. Louis County contracted this past winter with Kuehl Logging to clear the edges of the Echo Trail and what a difference it has made. The section from Ed Shave to Portage River is now kind of park-like with large white pines standing out along the way.
My guess was that the white pines were selected as no-cut. Elroy, who was along for the ride, explained trees 20 inches in diameter and larger were not cut.
Between Ely and North Arm we saw a bear and five deer. After that the wildlife was pretty scarce if you don’t count squirrels.
We passed Hegman and Angleworm with a few vehicles in each one. Portage River has a nice campsite area along the river so we pulled in there for our lunch break.
Small stoves were fired up to cook brats, polish and hot dogs. The pile of buns on the picnic table slowly dropped as everyone grabbed a bite to eat.
All the while there was lots of visiting going on. We had a group from Virginia along for the ride but really they were from Ely as Tom, Jenny, Matt and Shelly are all Ely graduates.
With lunch taken care of, it was back on the trail where the roadway turned much dustier. The road was in great shape but despite the rain we had received earlier in the week, the gravel had dried out and we spaced out a bit to keep the dust level down.
Bruce suggested we stop at Fire and Ice, an interpretive site that has information on the Little Indian Sioux fire of 1971 that grew to 15,000 acres. There’s also a massive rock on top of a ridge, left some 10,000 years ago when glaciers covered this part of Minnesota. Fire and ice.
Before we left for our next stop Anne Johnson was able to flag down a passing truck and convince the driver to take a group photo for us. We even had a pair of Ely women in the picture who stopped to visit after a trip to Crane Lake for lunch.
We had planned to go to Lake Jeanette but the day before the Forest Service announced they would be doing a prescribed burn in that area. We could see and smell the smoke and decided to take a short trip down a side road before heading back to Ely.
Bruce and Tracy left us to return home and we stopped at Big Lake which was about halfway back to town. That’s where we ran into Ted, Peg, Sam, Marlene, Merrill and Sue who had ridden their machines from Ely as well. More visiting ensued.
We had left Ely a little after 10 a.m. and made it back to town well before 6 p.m. This isn’t the traditional trail riding people think of for ATVing but until our trails dry out, road riding was better than not riding at all.