Hook and Bullet Club by Nick Wognum

When life deals you a tougher hand, there needs to be a way to get through it. Losing a parent is one of those times and getting outdoors has been a great stress reliever.
When Stan Skelton poked his head in my office and asked if I wanted to play hooky, the answer was yes. We took off on a blue sky afternoon in a new Cirrus four seater Stan was flying for a customer.
“If for some reason I can’t fly the plane anymore, here’s the lever for the parachute,” said Stan. Gotta love planes that come with a system to land without a pilot.
We flew up and over the BWCA which has a 4,000 foot limit so the view is from higher up. As Stan banked the plane to the south the view changed.
“That’s from the Pagami Fire,” he said.
The scar stretches for miles and I think back of the ill-fated decision to drop hundreds of gallons of fuel on what could have been a very tiny fire.
Even though the sun is shining, the ground has a lack of color look. Lakes and rivers are white, the land and trees are black. Outside the BWCA it’s the snowmobile tracks that break up the white with different trails leaving arcs in the snow.
We went to the North Shore and turned over Lake Superior, following Hwy. 61 to the south. With headphones on we could hear a medical helicopter pilot leaving Cloquet and planes taking off from Duluth. Then the language changed.
“That’s military pilots taking off,” said Stan.
“And they can see us, right?” I asked, picturing an F-16 flying right through us. Stan just smiled.
We came back over the Laurentian Divide, took a few passes over Camp Cholesterol and smoothly touched down. Anytime Stan wants to play hooky, I’m in.
We’ve also been able to get in some snowmobile rides. A couple of trips to the Tower area along with a ride to Crane Lake up the Vermilion River.
My buddy Steve was the leader of nine sleds and I loved being in the back of the pack for once. I could pick my own routes and play around with the group ahead of me. The river was in great condition and we took it on the way up as well as the way home. A good, fun ride.
What may end up being the last ride of the season due to the snow melting faster than gas prices rising was a backwoods trip with Corey Keen. This trip is largely off the trail system but it’s one I love to take.
There’s a couple spots that can be iffy ice-wise but the day we went everything was good.
Riding along small lakes and rivers the stress of life’s problems melted away. The snowmobile is the vehicle to get you off of the beaten path and away from the crowd.
Spring is well on its way now after a week of warm temperatures. We may not put as many miles on but hopefully there’s still time to hit the throttle and watch the skis come off the snow. Or ice. Either way, it’s all good.