Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Riding the Trails

Departing from my usual weekend ice fishing event I had the opportunity to put a few miles on my sled, a 2006 Polaris 900 Switchback.   Together with my local sales rep, Dwight Bialowas and his friend Mike, we headed to a small town in north central Minnesota called Emily.  Emily is in the heart of cabin county, 40 minutes north of Mille Lacs lake, has an excellent system of well groomed trails.  Picking up the guys at 7:30, by 10:00 we were at Mike's cabin and ready to hit the trails.  We decided to head northeast to Hill City, MN, about 40 miles as the crow flies.   The trails were fabulous.   A recent snowstorm left most of it's snow to the northeast and although some of the corners were icy, with the exception of needing a tad more snow, they were very smooth.  Our first stop was Swatara, an old railroad town that is a mire shadow of it's previous existence.  Like many small towns in the Midwest (not unlike Eleva), it thrived by being on a major railroad line that was eventually abandoned.   Now just a stop on the main snowmobile trail that replaced the railroad, it was a welcome rest.   Our next stop was Hill City for a visit to the Polaris dealer, Hilltop Sports.  Dwight's sled was leaking gas and running rough so for $20, the dealership pulled his carburetors, cleaned them and reinstalled.  This was just what the sled needed and it ran perfect for the rest of the day.  Our next stop was at Palisade, MN,  another old railroad town that has survived better than Swatara.   A quick picture of me standing next to my sled, we headed back to the cabin for grilled swordfish and New York Strips made with my famous steak marinade. Sleeping well we woke up, started the sleds and did a 25 mile ride to Cross Lake for a corned beef hash breakfast.  Well fed and 170 miles behind us, we headed home to get ready for Super Bowl Sunday.  It turned out to be a wonderful game as my predicted winner, the Saints came through with a convincing win!  

 In the past 10 years I had the pleasure to snowmobile in the mountains of Wyoming and Idaho.  I thought I would share a couple of my favorite pictures from these past trips.  2008 was the last year I went however I am really looking forward to getting back out next winter.  Our favorite place to go was the Snowy Range, 30 miles west of Laramie Wyoming.  Staying at the Vee Bar Ranch, we enjoyed first class accommodations as well as some of the best snowmobiling in the world.  The Snowies as we call them gets over 250 inches of snow every year.  Although the conditions varied from year to year, we always managed to find fresh powder to play in.  The area is marked with large open meadows on high plateaus to steep mountain peaks with areas like the "Widow Maker".   Averaging over 10,000 feet above sea level,  The Snowies have a great trail system with excellent grooming.  The real fun however is the off trail riding.  Whether boon-docking through the trees or finding your own special hill to play on, there are tons of play areas to explore.  My first picture on the right is one of Ronnie Clarkson, a good friend of mine from Zimmerman, MN.  Ronnie has a Polaris RMK with a 159 inch track extension.  This machine really makes use of that track with extraordinary climbing ability.  Here Ronnie had decided to head up a little area formed by a drift that made the climb somewhat steeper than he anticipated.  At the top of the corness, his skis left the ground as the sled continued in a forward direction over 60 feet.  At that the point he felt his sled was it was coming over backwards.  Ronnie simply let go as he pushed off the sled.  The sled stopped and stuck at about this 80 degree angle and stayed there.  It was pretty amazing as we worked carefully to make sure the sled landed right side up as we pulled it down. I think Ronnie needed to go clean out his bibs before getting back on that sled!

The next picture is of another friend, Gary Larsen who is a friend of my cousin Donny Schmidt, from Pickerel Wisconsin.   Photography is one of my hobbies and this is one I took as Gary was getting some air off a drift in a meadow.  Snapping the picture just at the moment he left the snow, it froze this incredible image of how much fun we have.  Although it looks like he is flying and trust me, it's an exhilarating feeling to get airborne, our skill levels are tempered by the deep powder snow we have to land on.  It is easier to try stunts when you have a soft landing to look forward to!  Gary drives a modified Ski Doo Summit with a 2" paddle track and an unmistakeable custom paint job.  He is a great rider which is why we have him lead most of the time.  He has gotten us into trouble a few times but we still like him!  Double click on any of the pictures to get a better look at these interesting 2 images.   I have lots of stories and pictures over the years.  Count on more as I will need some fill as I take the first 3 weeks in March off from fishing. 


pkellin said...

Hey Dave,

Great stories, as always. Hope all is well and you are feeling good. I may head up to Mille lacs this weekend, so depending on where i go and if you are around i may run into you. Any word on the bite up there?

Take care,

Dave Anderson said...


I am in Anaheim till Friday then have to drive back home for my Dad's birthday party. I have heard that you need to head to the flats and fish the edges. Some perch and tullibees are being caught. I hope to get up one more time before I see Dr. Laio. Good luck! BTW the Grand Rapids Trails were awesome.

pkellin said...

Have safe travels and good luck with Dr. liao. We may see you in here after that, but we will see. Take care and thanks for the update!


bdimat said...

Greetings Dave,
Thanks for providing this more than entertaining blog. I really enjoy your writing and the additional information that you provide here.
I have to ask if you were out on Briggs Wed. afternoon (2/10/10)?
Thanks again for your work on this blog. Take care.

Dave Anderson said...


Nope, I have been in Anaheim all week enjoying the beautiful weather of Southern California! No ice fishing there, for sure.