Michigan Snowmobiler February 2020

Page 1

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February 2020

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cover photo from 1st issue 1967 On Safari at Grand Island

What’s Inside… When Man Becomes a Legend ........................Page 5

Spotlight on...Staffords

MISORVA Meets in St.

Vintage Sled of

Crooked River Lodge


Month - 1966 Jet Ski

.....................Page 9

.......................Page 25


......................Page 27


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VISIT OUR TOWN ADS FOR YOUR SNOWMOBILE VACATION THIS WINTER Gaylord Page 4 & 5 Grayling Page 7 Irons Area Page 8 White Lake Area Page 8 Benzie Page 8 Alanson Page 9 Houghton lake Page 9 Cadillac Page 10 Hulbert Page 11 Naubinway Page 11 Newberry Page 12 Curtis Page 12 Presque Isle Page 12 Munising Page 13 Marquette Page 15 East Jordan Page 16-17 Copper Harbor Page 18 Lake Gogebic Page 19 Calumet Page 19 White Pine Page 19 Drummond Island Page 20 Grand Traverse Area Page 21 Seney Page 24 Paradise Page 24 Sault Ste Marie Page 27 Indian River Page 28 Grand Marais Page 29

The three couples of the magazine Marshall & Wilma Sayles - Lyle & Nancy Shipe - Patti & Bill Tisron


When Man Becomes a Legend

Page 9

Spotlight on...Staffords Crooked River Lodge

Page 11

Cedarville Safety class

Page 14

Riding the Crazy 8’s

Page 19

Kids on Snowmobiles

Page 20

Remember When

Page 22

Snowmobile Safety campaign

Page 23

DNR looking to stop ORV use on Snowmobile Trails

Page 25

MISORVA Meets in St. Ignace

Page 27

Vintage sled of the Month - 1966 Jet Ski

Page 29

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When Man Becomes a Legend

William D. Manson, or just plain Bill. one William D. Manson, or as most folks This is more remi- know him as, just plain niscing than an actual Bill! I’m very proud to chronological account of man’s efforts to gen- claim, without dispute, erate an appreciation that Bill and I have had for some sort of organ- a very close friendship ized snowmobiling, but for more than three it is also an acknowl- decades, and that my consider edgement of what just daughters one man can accom- him and wife Deb as plish if his heart is pure second parents, someand his intentions are times seeking considmore for the better- erations when mom ment of his fellow man and dad would not, or than for any personal could not, accommorecognition. The man I date their wants and refer to in this render- wishes. Did I begrudge ing is none other than him this?... absolutely

By Jim Duke

not, because he was always there in support of whatever was best for our kids… I say our kids because my wife and I always looked to their daughter Tara in the same way we did our own. That’s just how it was back then! So beginning way back in 1983 or maybe it was ’84, Bill was, at that time I believe, the Public Relations Committee Chair and responded to my personal request on what it might take for our little group we had

named the Snomads Snofari Club to become involved with the newly formed Michigan Snowmobile Association? Bill responded almost immediately with a couple of “How to” pamphlets and a couple of VCR videos on snowmobile safety

and “What You Should Know” when preparing snowmobiling activities. He also provided his phone number and offered to discuss any other concerns I might have… That was just

Continued on page 6

P.O. BOX 417 • EAST JORDAN, MICHIGAN 49727 Founded September 1967

PUBLISHER,PRESIDENT/LAYOUT/DESIGN......Patti Tisron EDITOR/ADVERTISING MANAGER....................Bill Tisron WEBMASTER.......................................................Dennis Shipe CONTRIBUTING WRITER.................................. Jim Duke CONTRIBUTING WRITER..................................Stephen King

Executive Offices Advertising, Editorial and Circulation Offices: 200 Main St. Suite B. • P.O. Box 417 ~ East Jordan, Michigan 49727 Telephone: (231) 536-2371 ~ FAX (231) 536-7691 E-Mail publisher@michsnowmag.com Website: www.michsnowmag.com THE MICHIGAN SNOWMOBILER is an independent publication endorsing the goals of MSA, and other associations. Opinions expressed herein are the opinions of the editor or contributing writer, and do not necessarily reflect the official opinions of the MSA, or their boards of directors. Reproduction of material in whole or part is prohibited, unless authorized in writing by the publisher - all rights reserved. THE MICHIGAN SNOWMOBILER IS PUBLISHED SIX TIMES A YEAR, September thru February, by MICHIGAN SNOWMOBILER INC., 200 Main St. Suite B, East Jordan, MI 49727.

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6 MICHIGAN SNOWMOBILER - February, 2020 one of the five se- phases of organized would spend many lected to be inducted snowmobiling since late-night, after busiin September. It didn’t we first met more than ness hours typing out cards stop there… Bill re- three decades ago, membership ceived the US Snow- and I’d like to think it and printing MSA remobiler of the Year was him that has kept lated materials, all at award from the Inter- me as involved as I’ve little or no cost to the national Snowmobile been. Bill was a volun- association. Bill continIndustry Association teer for all those years ued to do this right up many years prior to the doing so much more until 2000 when, due establishment of the for MSA than most to a downturn in busiAmerican Council of folks know. He do- ness revenue, it was Snowmobile Associa- nated office space to necessary to close his Bill and Deb at the Snowmobile Hall of tions, but in 2008 that the association, rent business and seek Fame Ceremony. same award was be- free, inside his own other avenues to probusiness facility, and vide for the family, but the beginning of what could have, been pos- stowed on me. Yes… I’ve followed although not the Sec- not wanting to abaneventually blossomed sible without Bill’s painto the long-lasting re- tience, guidance, and Bill through many retary he and Deb don MSA, informed the association leaderlationship we still enjoy understanding! ship at the time about to this day. We’ve laughed his decision and that I presented the in- about the fact that I’ve he was not sure what formation he had pro- followed him through his future plans might vided to the other almost every office be, but the association Snomads members at and position in both needed to relocate our next club meeting, the state and national and establish an office, which was readily ac- associations, He was or at least an address cepted but some President of Michigan of its own. members had more Snowmobile AssociaAfter some deliberquestions. As luck tion (MSA) in 1988 & ation and making sure would have it, Bill and ’89 and I followed beDeb had planned to coming President in Bill meeting with Michigan’s District 10 con- to comply with the bylaws, the officers travel to Ohio for that 1994 & ’95. He was gressman Paul Mitchell in Washington. state association’s an- the second elected nual convention and President of the newly Turn the Tightest Corners Into Your Victory Lap would be passing very implemented AmeriDesigned for extreme performance close to where Sno- can Council of Snowriders that need to dominate tough mads held their mobile Associations terrain at high speeds. The lightmonthly meeting, and (ACSA) in 1997 & weight yet strong AXYS® chassis on the same day. I in- ’98… and yep, I folpaired with the race-ready compovited them to attend lowed becoming Pres- nents of the INDY® XCR® deliver exand speak at the ident in 2003 & ‘04, so treme performance. meeting, they ac- when he was inducted Power for Any Terrain cepted, and the rest, into the International The engine is the heart of your as has been said Snowmobile Hall of ride, and we have the best two-stroke many times before, is Fame back in 2011, he lineup available. Led by our Snowhistory! Snomads was jokingly said “now you Check Exclusive 850 Patriot™ enaccepted as an Asso- have another chal- gine with industry leading power to weight ratio, coming in second is ciate Club in MSA, my lenge, don’t you” and I 850 Indy XCR never a worry. wife & I became a figured this was the Family membership of end of the line for me. MSA, later both be- I thought I would never came Life Members as qualify for membership 1911 E. Airport Rd. did my daughter in such a prestigious Karyn, and under Bill’s fraternity, but in May of Midland, MI 48642 tutoring I began my 2013, much to my surwww.stevenscycle.com education about or- prise, a member of the WARNING: Professional rider on a closed course, Polaris® recommends that all snowmobile riders ganized snowmobiling. ISHOF Board called take a training course. Do not attempt maneuvers beyond your capability. Always wear a helmet and I don’t believe any of me on my birthday to other safety apparel. Never drink and ride. this would have, or inform me that I was


February, 2020 - MICHIGAN SNOWMOBILER 7 made the decision to offer Bill employment as the first Executive Director of MSA, with the understanding that the association could not pay a salary comparable to what he may need, but the association also could not afford to lose the knowledge and expertise that Bill possessed‌ and Bill accepted the position, at least temporarily. For almost twenty years Bill remained in that position, he continued to be at the forefront of the many legislative confrontations where snowmobilers access or funding was in jeop-

Bill and myself (the Captain and the parrot) at the MSA convention costume party a long time ago! ardy, and he always took the battle to the agency that was responsible, and leading by example with the

Always up for some fun times. He loves to make you laugh at him, and with him.

necessary documentation to justify the cause! That was just how it had to be done and Bill was up to the challenge. As early as 2017, Bill had notified the membership of MSA that he had planned for retirement within the next couple of years, but when Michigan Snowmobile Association was awarded the opportunity to host association for the 2019 International Snowmobile Congress (ISC), Bill agreed to extend his employment with MSA until after the event and at least another year or two, for a couple of reasons. #1: he said, he loved his job and wasn’t really ready to quit just yet, and #2: with MSA morphing into MISORVA, he felt obligated to remain and see the process through to a successful completion. So once the ISC event was done and all the dust had settled, Bill resumed his duties as Executive Director and

followed through with his obligations to the association‌ until October when he and the officers determined perhaps he could go ahead and retire a bit early, finish tying up any loose ends, and take the rest of the year to adjust. As we have entered the new year, Bill has resigned his position on the several committees, councils and workgroups, and as such no longer

passion for snowmobiling and expects to continue enjoying the winter activity he labored so diligently to create, nurture, develop, and improve upon for so many years. Without the dedication of Bill Manson and those individuals that have followed his lead in making organized snowmobiling what it is today, there would be no designated snowmobile trails system in this

Dancing is his thing, or is it......With Rob King and Cherly Zellar Wagner. speaks for the organized snowmobiling community in any capacity, other than as an interested, independent citizen. Bill does still have a strong

state, at least not to the extent it is today. Without Bill Manson’s ability to meet with both state and federal legislators, and dis-

Continued on page 8

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8 MICHIGAN SNOWMOBILER - February, 2020 cuss snowmobiler concerns in a knowledgeable and respectful manner, we wouldn’t have the great funding formula for the snowmobiling program we have, at least not through the same acceptable means, and without Bill’s positive can-do attitude and ability to willingly work through very difficult times when conflicts occurred between the snowmobiling community and the program administrators in the Department of Natural Resources, snowmobilers statewide as

well as those who regularly visit from other states would not have the premier snowmobile trails most of us have taken for granted these many years. It is primarily because of the efforts put forth by Bill and very few others that the snowmobile program has improved and prospered. Rarely does an individual such as Mr. William D. Manson come along, take the reins, and make an organization such as we have here in this great state such a success. Yes, I

am very proud to call Bill a friend and to be considered one of his in return… Yes, Bill will be sorely missed as he moves forward to the next chapter of his life, and yes, there will be many times when members and snowmobilers will say “oh how I wish Bill was here to guide us through these rough waters”! How does one fill the shoes left by a man who has become a legend? There is very few who may be able to step into them but I would suspect none will ever be able to take Sure gonna miss that big his place. smile of his.

Bill at White Pine getting ready for a ride and he’s instructing an unknown rider about the snowmobile.



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Spotlight on....Staffords Crooked River Lodge and Suites Staffords Crooked River Lodge and Suites is nestled in Alanson, on the picturesque Crooked River, part of the famed Inland Waterway, our family-friendly hotel is within arms reach to recreational trails, river activities, skiing and snowmobiling. Most of our guest rooms & suites have a private balcony with views of the Crooked River and include a complimentary breakfast. Guests have access to our indoor pool featuring a waterfall and hot tub and is open 24 hours per day. We are also proud to have a number of dogfriendly rooms. The family activities

that surround us are endless! Guests of all ages will enjoy feeding the fish in our private pond or relaxing in our grand lobby, which features fresh popcorn and a welcoming fire while children enjoy the Little Lodge playhouse under the stairs. Guests also enjoy our cozy loft filled with games, a television and comfortable seating. In the warmer months, guests have

Outside access to complimentary paddle boats, kayaks, a fishing dock and can explore northern Michigan at its best on our nature trails. During the winter, snowshoes are available for exploring the 30 acres surrounding the lodge and our deeded connector gives access to Indian River, Harbor Springs

terfront dining and historic lodging throughout northern Michigan. Guests enjoy attentive service, fine dining and elegant accommodations overlooking Lake Michigan, Little Traverse Bay, and the Crooked River, in relaxed, historic settings. beauty! Stafford’s Perry and Mackinaw snow- Hotel, located in the mobile trails. heart of Petoskey’s Other Staffords Gaslight District, is Properties perfect for romantic getaways and graFor over fifty-eight cious but modern busiyears, Stafford’s has provided premier wa- Continued on page 10

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10 MICHIGAN SNOWMOBILER - February, 2020 ness travel. The Perry Hotel’s uniquely appointed guest rooms revisit the grandeur of the early 1900s, but are fully equipped with 21st century amenities. Adjacent to the hotel is Stafford’s Gallery of Art & History, Petoskey’s best art gallery featuring Michigan artists and a selection of Michigan wines. Just two miles north in historic Bay View is our flagship property, Stafford’s Bay View Inn. The Bay View Inn brings you the grace and romance of a bygone era set against exquisite views of Lake Michigan’s Little Traverse Bay. Stafford’s Pier

Restaurant celebrates the maritime heritage of beautiful Harbor Springs and offers true waterfront dining. Literally. It was built on the original pilings over the harbor. The Pier’s Pointer Room overlooks the historic Harbor Springs yacht basin and offers visitors a superb choice of fine seafood cuisine. Originally built as a grist mill, Stafford’s Weathervane Restaurant in Charlevoix was converted to a dining establishment in the mid 1950s. It was designed by the famed local architect Earl Young, known for his curvaceous roof-lines and flowing architec-

ture. The Weathervane Restaurant offers signature and regional cuisine in a relaxed atmosphere and is true waterfront dining, nestled along the busy Pine River Channel in downtown Charlevoix. We invite you to explore each of Stafford’s unique properties, where yesterday and today come together. STAFFORD C. SMITH Stafford C. Smith first visited the Bay View Inn with his aunt in the summer of 1957 for brunch. He returned each summer through 1960 and worked a variety of positions for the Inn’s proprietor, Dr. Roy Heath.

The summer of 1960 was special for Stafford as it was that summer that he met and fell in love with the dining room hostess, Janice Johnson, who would eventually become his wife. Stafford and Janice began their life together and the following winter his Inn experience landed him a promising career at the Perry Hotel in Petoskey as their new assistant manager. Stafford and Janice were planning a June 17, 1961 wedding, but the Perry Hotel was sold only four months after Stafford had begun his new position.

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Out of a job and with a marriage on the horizon, Stafford formulated a plan. Knowing that the Bay View Inn was recently put up for sale, he made his move. That spring Stafford and Janice became innkeepers. Stafford’s Bay View Inn remains today, the oldest summer hotel north of Grand Rapids, Michigan. Every time Stafford purchases a property, he puts his stamp on it from both a physical and service point of view. He strongly believes the physical plant of a business re ects the owner’s spirit and integrity.


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February, 2020 - MICHIGAN SNOWMOBILER 11 with his two brothers, while mom and dad watched. Joe said, “It is way more real when you are here in person. You get a way better experience when you do it in person.” At 15, Joe was an old hand at this. And, (I onto the Trails, without love this bit) as a forhaving to drag an adult mer racer, he had along. For me, I can been riding for quite a still remember that few years. And, from time. Almost 50 years talking to him, was ago now. That was pretty good with a sled. like, “Freedom!”. I was Catching air and all the off the back yard and fun stuff. But, he had the world was mine. two brothers, Andrew More or less. Dad did and Mike, 12 and 13. give me borders. But, They too love to ride. five miles away was a lot farther then our back yard. So, I totally understand why these kids get so excited. But, in this age of the Internet, why go to a real class when you can do it online. The answer was best stated by Joe Paradowski of St. Ignace. He was there

Cedarville Club Adds 18 More Snowmobilers To Our World By Stephen King This is a story I do just about every year. The reason is that it is always a good story. You see, every year, the Les Cheneaux Snowmobile Club has a Snowmobile Safety Class over the Christmas Break. Every year, they invite all the area kids, and adults, to come in and take the Snowmobile Safety Class. As you know, upon reaching the age of 12, kids have the option of taking a Class, and then getting a Certificate that allows them to legally head out

There were 18 kids in the class this year. Mom, Sarah, stated, “This is a really good class. The kids get to ask the instructors questions and the instructors really know their stuff.”

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As for that, this year, the head instructor was none other than Stu Volker, who is the President of the EUP Snowmobile Council, a former


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12 MICHIGAN SNOWMOBILER - February, 2020 President of the Les Cheneaux Club, and has many other credits to his years of dedication to snowmobiling. This day, he talked about snowmobiling in general. Things like Trail etiquette, safety, and what to do and not to do out on the Trail. Then, there was Mackinac County Sheriff’s Deputy Tom Sherlund. As you could guess, Tom talked about Legal issues involving snowmobiling. Such things as where you can ride legally, Trail Stickers, and other matters that

snowmobilers should know about. (To make sure that he was not going to be writing their names on a Ticket.) Also there was John Griffin. As usual, John was there talking about riding on ice. One of John’s mantras is, “There is no such thing as safe ice. There is just ice that is harder to fall through.” Personally, I lost a favorite uncle, that fell through the ice. The ice was thick enough. But, a wide crack had opened up and he fell through and was lost.

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John does a really good job of letting the kids know how dangerous the ice can be. Without totally scaring them to death about it. Like, ice fishing is great. So is just riding on ice. But, it is dangerous and must be done with extreme caution.

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There was one other person there who was a favorite of the kids. Stu’s wife Mary was there serving lunch to the kids. With fellow volunteer Marianne Noah, they were the favorite cooks and grandmothers of the day. They served up hot dogs,

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February, 2020 - MICHIGAN SNOWMOBILER 13 always do this class just after Christmas and always get a good turn out. 18 is a great number of kids. Not too many. Not too few. The perfect size for the kids to be able to interact with the instructors.” Now, as always, the best part of this for Kiarra Hopper and Gavin Baseau take their snowmobiling is the fact that 18 more kids tests. are now involved with snowmobiling. As with Gavin Baseau from get out on the Trails. Brimley. They also Along with the kids anythin, the next genthought the class was from Brimley and St. eration is the future. “really fun”. Both of Ignace, Stu noted that For us, the future looks the 13 year old friends there were kids from pretty good. noted that they have all over the EUP. He Ë been riding for many mentioned that they years. Gavin also came from Detour, noted that he rides a Pickford, and other 440 Jag while Kiarra EUP towns. He even rides a Polaris. They noted, “There was both really wanted even a class right here their Safety Certifi- in Cedarville, just a cates, so they could short time ago. But, we

TNT’s Ride Like A Girl To Save The Girls Bikini Radar Runs This years ride has a whole new meaning for Courtney Fender the Event Director. After finding out that someone very close to her was diagnosed with breast cancer, raising money for the cause became way more personal. The event that takes place on Saturday, February 22nd during the 39th Annual East Jordan Sno-Blast at the East Jordan Sno-Mobiler’s Club House, will raise money for women and men in East Jordan going through breast cancer. Entrants will be asking for support from family, friends, co-workers, employers and community members. Both men and women are welcome to register, but must wear a bikini to participate. 3 prize packages will be awarded at the event. Reg. is now open and riders must be registered by Feb. 16, 2020. Registration is available online at https://twistedprincess15.wixsite.com. T-shirts and sweat shirts are also available for purchase with half of the proceeds benefiting the event. Shirts must be pre-ordered and forms are available by e-mailing Courtney at twistedprincess15@gmail.com.

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14 MICHIGAN SNOWMOBILER - February, 2020 wave and didn’t stop. We did take a break at the Hurricane River overlook, however, before continuing on our ized Trails and Bay de By Jim Duke journey, and at the trail Noc to the South, Tre- junction of 8 and 89, Even though the nary Northern Trails we decided to take the Hiawathaland scenic route to look at weather remained and much warmer than Snowmobile Club to the lake and the Log Slide, an attraction usual, the snow-cover the West. The adventure most folks who visit the had diminished greatly, and the trails had suf- began just before area want to see. From fered somewhat, with 9:00am on a crisp win- the lookout station, the the first hectic holiday tery morning as we shoreline looking tobehind us and the next rode from my resi- ward Grand Marais is just a few days away, dence on Ridge Road a spectacular sight. we decided we really and headed southeast needed some “we” on trail 7, then east time, so during the and north on trail 8, days between Christ- took a short detour up mas and the New Year, 422 to check out Minwe, my daughter and I, ers Castle, then back decided it was time to to trail 8 east and take a bit of free time stopped briefly in Shinfor ourselves and gleton to top off the enjoy some of the trails fuel tanks before headhere in our own Yooper ing north and east on county of Alger, always trails 8 & 43 (aka the some of the smoothest Sunrise grade) toward in the state thanks in the Kingston Plains, a no small part to the favorite rallying spot volunteers and among local riders. On groomer drivers at this day however, there Alger County SORVA were only two rigs in and at Grand Marais’ the parking area and Crazy 8’s Club. A shout lots of fresh snowmoout also to the clubs bile tracks, but no one and grant sponsors in sight. Setting out from the neighboring north on trail 8 at a counties that provide leisurely pace of 45-50 the continuity on the miles per hour, we saw trail system, the Seney our first fellow riders Snowmobile Associa- taking a break at the tion to the East, Kingston Lake CampSchoolcraft’s Motor- ground but just gave a

Riding the Crazy 8’s

A groomer working at keeping the trails safe and smooth. We headed into town, first stop was at the Bayshore Market where we got in line for

fuel and topped off the tanks. Not wanting to waste time sitting down to lunch, we

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Miners Castle in her winter coat and Lake Superior looked a bit rough.

February, 2020 - MICHIGAN SNOWMOBILER 15 bought some snacks to eat later and headed back on trail 8 to trail 888 (better known as the Roady Truck Trail), took it south, crossed the Adams Truck Trail, jumped onto trail 88, and turned east toward trail 433 on the east

side of state highway M-77. As we approached the highway, we saw two DNR Law Enforcement Officers on snow machines so we stopped to ask how things were with them. Both said all was fine

and most snowmobilers were legal and riding safely, and that they had not issued any citations so far, and only two warnings. We remained with them for maybe ten minutes, shared our snacks, and watched

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them check a dozen or so sleds before moving on. At the intersection of trails 88 & 433 we decided against going to Seney and instead turned north and headed back toward Grand Marais. Our original intention was

to go to Pine Stump Junction, but considering the time, changed our minds, took a left turn and stayed on trail 8 west back into town, this time stopping at the Grand Marais Tav-

Continued on page 18

16 MICHIGAN SNOWMOBILER - February, 2020

EAST JORDAN AREA 2020 Yamaha Sidewinder SRX The SRX returns for 2020 in Midnight Black with Liquid Silver. The SRX LE comes with Yamaha’s new Advanced Roll Center Suspension (ARCS) which is complete with new high-strength forged alloy spindles, and redesigned lightweight upper A-arms. ARCS gives the SRX an optimized geometry which lowers the ride-height from the 2019 model, and too, strengthens the handling characteristics of the SRX. The 2020 Yamaha SRX has new “High-Gloss Lexan Tunnel decals” for increased quality and durability, it also has a new SRX-branded seat that is heated. The SRX’s track is 137 in. long, 15 in. wide with a 2.86-inch pitch. It is the capable Camso Ripsaw track with 1-inch lugs and is fully clipped. Front suspension is 42 in. wide with ARCS. It has Fox IQS shocks with dual-rate SRX- only coil over springs. The rear suspension has on the front rails a 1.5-inch diameter HPG shock 51 YEARS OF YAMAHA SERVICE



with a dual rate spring, and a Fox IQS with a two-inch diameter tube and lowered preload torsion springs

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February, 2020 - MICHIGAN SNOWMOBILER 17

Discover the Jordan Valley This Winter With winter finally settling in and providing us great snowmobiling conditions, how about adding the scenic Jordan Valley Snowmobile Trail to your list of trail destinations. If you have ridden the trail before, how about revisiting the trail and the snowmobile friendly town of East Jordan. The trail is in great condition thanks to the dedication and hard work of the volunteers who work tirelessly to ensure snowmobilers have a wonderful experience when they are on it. The community of East Jordan, which is located on the South Arm of Lake Charlevoix offers a number of dining choices, fuel for sleds, lodging and quaint shops. If you are looking to enjoy a fun family-friendly winter festival, you won't want to miss the 39th Annual Sno-Blast Winter Festival scheduled for February 21-23. Featuring a number of snow-related activities from a radar run, T-N-T "Ride Like A Girl To Save The Girls Bikini Radar Run 2020" for Breast Cancer awareness, snow sculpture competition, antique snowmobile show, blessing of the sleds and ORV’S, ORV fun obstacle event, taco dinner, Belle of the Blizzard and Winter Knight crowning , sno-lovers breakfast, kids coloring contest, story hour and activity plus more. For more information please contact the Chamber at 231-5367351 or visit www.ejchamber.org Besides excellent snowmobiling, East Jordan offers many other winter experiences including winter raft trips on the wildand scenic Jordan River, ice fishing, snowshoeing and cross country skiing and ice skating at both outdoor and indoor rinks at the East Jordan Tourist Park. Don't sit winter inside, get OUTSIDE and embrace the snow and fresh air! By: Mary H. Faculak Presi-


East Jordan a Natural Winter destination... SNO-BLAST WINTER FESTIVAL FEBRUARY 21-23 Taco Dinner – Blessing of Sleds – Antique/Classic Snowmobile Show–Bikini Radar Run – Radar Runs ORV Fun Obstacle Course– Grand Story Time Contests – Raffles – Snow Lovers Breakfast – More Snowmobile the beautiful scenic Jordan Valley Trail, for a fabulous riding.experience

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18 MICHIGAN SNOWMOBILER - February, 2020 Riding the Crazy 8’s Continued from page 15 ern for a light dinner, then over to the Bayshore Market for fuel again before starting the return trip home. We stayed on trail 8 all the way back to Munising and then trail 7 back toward Christmas. Throughout this entire day’s ride of

adverse conditions, that really shows the dedication most grooming operators have. I lost count of the number of snowmobilers I saw during the day’s ride but I don’t believe any of them were operating in an unsafe manner and most were courteous

time the sleds were put away. On this day the weather was not very good and conditions were far from perfect, but considering what old Mother Nature was dishing up all across the U. P., and really over much of the state, we were just happy to have the time together out on the trails. Riding the Crazy 8’s is always a fun way to spend the From Trail #89, Lake Superior looks day and shake off the angry this day. winter blahs…. We somewhere around and friendly, giving both highly recomtwo hundred miles, proper hand signals mend it, look forward and even with the ex- and waves as we to doing it all again tremely warm weather, passed. It was shortly soon, and hoping for I think we encountered after sundown by the better weather… just less than ten miles of time we returned home sayin’ trail that may have and totally dark by the needed some extra atServing Locals, Tourists tention, and even & Adventurers those few miles were We stock all your not so rough that one snowmobile trail needs could complain. Kudos Open 7 days a week to the groomer operaCheck our Facebook page for current hours tors for the great job of On the Main trail in the village of keeping the trails as Copper Harbor safe and smooth as possible under such 906-289-3483

ABOVE: A groomer working the main Grand Marais trail (#8) at the Grand Sable Dunes area.

Happy snowmobilers. heading back home.

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February, 2020 - MICHIGAN SNOWMOBILER 19 weekends they were with Mom. When Lauren graduated college, we continued to ride. Now she is on a 2019 sled, and I'm on a Hi, I have been a I would ride on the 2015... Something subscriber to your paper for years. When I saw this article in the December issue, Kids on Snowmobiles, I had to write. I have two daughters. The oldest who is now 23, started at at 3.. ( I actually bought a Kitty Kat when I found out mom was pregnant). The younger since she was also three. I got divorced, when they were just 2&6. Not wanting to give up KONTEKA riding, I bought a two Black Bear Resort Motel up machine, and the •Restaurant & Lounge •Gas three of us rode it until •Trail Permits •Bowling Lane the older daughter • Gift Shop (Lauren) turned 12, Located right on the then I put her on her snowmobile trail and just a few miles own zl600 ( efi for easy away from Lake Superior and the throttle pull). When Porcupine Mountains Emily turned 12, I put in White Pine, MI her on the two up. I alwww.thekonteka.com 906-885-5170 ways had another sled



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20 MICHIGAN SNOWMOBILER - February, 2020

A NOSTALIGIC LOOK AT SNOWMOBILING THIRTY YEARS AGO In September of Remember When REMEMBER WHEN. . . 2005, Andy Twork February 1990 By Bill Tisron Every month for the past 32 years we have put together a story about the corresponding issues of 30 years ago. Sorry to say but we do not have the February 1990 issue in our archives. We must have over 1,000 magazines in our office, but no February 1990. We also have every sea-

On the cover... Miss Michigan, Tony Jo Abbernante.


son bound in a hard cover book but we have no 1989-90 season. I guess after 53 years its not so bad if your only missing one issue. So here is a little history about this article. We started doing these stories in September, 1997, and (Northwinds Charlie) Slater was the first to write this article. The story he wrote was on our very first issue from October 1967. The first story ever published in the Michigan Snowmobiler

began his 10 years of Remember When writing. His first story was about things that went on in September of 1975. He wrote about the big four, Polaris, Yamaha, Ski-Doo and

Magazine was called The Long Long Trail written by Jean Payne. Jean told of a trail that had been developed for horses and hikers and was now open to snowmobilers. Also in that issue it was announced that Michigan

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February, 2020 - MICHIGAN SNOWMOBILER 21 Jordan, and the 1986 Phazor. Plus things that had happened in our state such as the North American Snowmobile Festival in Cadillac, and that team Woodys won the top award from M.I.R.A.

Artic Cat and some of the different sleds of the day, such as John Deere, Mercury Snow Twister and Evinrude just to mention a few. Then he talked about the Alpena Snowmobile Association. They were working on their fund raisers and work bees, and in Grayling their club was adding another 10 miles of trail. In September of 2015 I started writing the articles. I talked about things like the water skipping in East

For me these are fun articles to write because I get to go through all of our archives and see what was going on 30 years ago.

If you come across the February 1990 issue of the Michigan Snowmobiler Magazine and wouldn’t mind parting with it, I would make it right with you.

So we could get that season all put together and get it bound in a book. Here’s to many more years of Remembering When.......

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22 MICHIGAN SNOWMOBILER - February, 2020

Snowmobile safety campaign encourages people to 'Ride Right' As snowmobilers head north to enjoy one of the state's most popular winter outdoor activities, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources reminds everyone to ride at a safe speed, ride on the right side of the trail and ride sober. It's all part of the DNR's "Ride Right" snowmobile safety campaign, introduced last year. The department also is working with local law enforcement agencies to conduct snowmobile safety and sound patrols. "We see a lot of accidents early in the season when people aren't used to the snow," said Lt. Jim Gorno, law enforcement supervisor at the DNR Customer Service Center in Gaylord. "When the first snow falls, people get excited. Take time to make sure you're comfortable with the conditions and your machine." Lt. Jerry Fitzgibbon, the DNR's acting law enforcement supervisor for the eastern Upper Peninsula, said the department wants the public to be aware of the increased patrols. "We would rather tell people ahead of time that we will be conducting snowmobile patrols, hoping that they will slow down, instead of responding to an accident," Fitzgibbon said. Snowstorms during the 2018-19 season kept conservation officers busy, responding to many situations involving stranded snowmobilers. There have been four snowmobile fatalities so far during the 2019-20 season. "Conditions change

year to year and day to day," said Fitzgibbon. "You can go out on a smooth trail and come home on the same trail, full of obstacles hidden under the snow. Slow down so you have enough space to stop with a clear distance. If you're going too fast to maintain control of your snowmobile, you're going too fast – whether it's 10 or 100 mph." During the 2017-18 snowmobile season, 80% of snowmobile accidents and deaths reported in the Upper Peninsula were caused by high speed, according to the Michigan Region 8 Trauma Network. "Excessive speed, drugs and alcohol are among the top contributing factors for snowmobile accidents and fatalities," said Lt. Tom Wanless, who manages the DNR's recreational safety, education and enforcement programs. He encouraged all snowmobilers to follow basic safety reminders: • Ride within your limits. • Keep your machine maintained. • Ride sober and ride on the right side of the trail. • Stay on the trail and be careful not to trespass on private property. Additionally, several snowmobile trails already have been hit this season with ice storms and high waters, making the need for caution even more critical. DNR trail officials said that there are many potential hazards riders must be aware of, including downed trees, deer, elevation changes and private driveways.

The DNR encourages all snowmobilers, regardless of age or experience, to take a snowmobile safety class. In Michigan all snowmobile operators between the ages of 12 and 16 are required to take a Michigan-approved snowmobile safety course and obtain a snowmobile safety certificate to ride unsuper-

vised or to operate a snowmobile across a road. Learn more about snowmobiling opportuni-

ties and trail safety resources at Michigan.gov/Snowmobiling.

February, 2020 - MICHIGAN SNOWMOBILER 23

DNR Looking To Stop ORV Use on Snowmobile Trails By Stephen King This past December 10th, the Eastern U.P. Citizen’s Advisory Council met in their regular bi-monthly meeting. That night, one of the items on the agenda was a report by Paul E. Gaberdiel, EUP Trails Coordinator for the Michigan DNR. He talked about a proposal by the DNR to close snowmobile trails to wheeled vehicles at cetain times of the year. Specifically, during Snowmobile Season, which runs from December 1st March 31st. For some time now, the Michigan Snowmobile Association, which recently made the move to include ORVs in their group and is now the Michigan Snowmobile and ORV Association, has been trying to get something similar through. But, they were trying to do this through the Legislature. The problem was that they could not find anyone to sponsor this. Off the record, potential sponsors noted that they felt the ORV people would support this, and that there were too many of them and too much money from ORVs to make

bile trails, ORV trails and routes for public safety or resource protection. •The Department may temporarily open any closed State this move. designated snowmoWith MSA becombile trails, ORV trails ing MISORVA, the and routes as condigroup now has taken tions allow. on the position of rep“This Order does not resenting the ORV apply to the following people with the DNR. circumstances or vehiSomething that not all cles: of the ORV people • Department aphave totally endorsed. proved land use Many have even quesevents or activities. tioned this move • While actively enopenly. But, the DNR gaged in the sport of has taken the position Hunting, Trapping or that there was no coFishing. hesive group to repre• Department authorsent ORVs, and that ized vehicles.” they had worked with MSA for many years. So, they are now working with MISORVA. Also, at the EUP CAC meeting, Gaberdiel noted that he has formed a committee to look at this proposal. He noted various people from within the DNR. All of whom have similar feelings on the issue. Then, he noted that they asked for public input on this, and that their only response was from MISORVA. Currently, the Proposal is as such: •A person shall not operate a motorized wheeled vehicle or Off Road Vehicle on state designated snowmobile trails from December 1 to May 1. •The Department may temporarily close state designated snowmo-

At the EUP CAC meeting, both members Glenn Moll and Bernie Hubbard raised concerns. Hubbard questioned the idea of having DNR Officials opening and closing tTrails at will. Moll wondered how this would affect ORV users. Then, there was also question on how a Law Enforcement Officer would be able to tell if a person was “Hunting, Fishing, or Trapping.” Then, another issue was brought up. Gaberdiel noted that they were also talking about closing state roads

and trails to ORVs during spring breakup. Basically, for the month of April. He noted that Wisconsin closes their ORV Trails at this time of the year, and that many Wisconsin riders come over to Michigan at this time of the year. And, that the heavy usage can damage trails. In response, he was asked what effect this would have on businesses, primarily in the western U.P. that cater to these people. He was asked, “With Michigan calling itself

Continued on page 24

24 MICHIGAN SNOWMOBILER - February, 2020 the Trail State, wouldn’t it be better to find a way to better take care of the trails, rather then telling these people not to come here. And, spend money here. If I was a business owner, I would not want you to tell my customers not to come here.” On the various concerns, Gaberdiel noted, “Keep in mind this is only the beginning of the process. We have had a recommendation from MISOVA to change the ending date to April 1. I need to pull the committee together and discuss the change before making the date change. He also elaborated on the rest of the Proposal, stating, “Bullet 1- closes snowmobile trails to all wheeled vehicles. The Land Use Order only affects trails on state land. The May 1 date, brought it inline with the USFS, but their date is April 1. This would reduce the number of closed date concerns for users. Hope is for voluntary compliance on county roads. Bullet 2- allows the

state to close any trails or routes for public safety or resource protection. Looking at being responsible with trail permit dollars and allowing damage that has to be followed up with repair. Bullet 3- Allows to open trails, example would be we don't get snow until Christmas, then we could open routes for use by ORVs or wheeled vehicles. The other bullets are operational and special use considerations.” As noted, this idea was tried and failed due to lack of support in the Legislature. Now, the DNR and MISORVA are trying to do this with a Land Use Order. With this, they do not need to go to the Legislature. Just to the DNR Director. Thus circumventing

Legislatures. On this, Senator Ed McBroom was contacted. He is the Chair of the Senate Natural Resources Committee. At first, his office stated they were unaware of this Proposal. Then, upon being provided with the information, Sen. McBroom made the following statement: “The DNR is proposing changes to multiuse trails where limitations may be imposed on vehicles or ORVs using trails that


are being groomed for snowmobile use,” said Sen. Ed McBroom. “I would encourage users to provide feedback to the department on this proposal and share thoughts with me too as desired. I understand that a onesize-fits all approach may not be in the users' best interest and would encourage a very thorough sitespecific review and discussion before any decisions are made.” Again, this only applies to state land. It

does not affect trails crossing federal land or privateland, including land covered under the Commercial Forest Act. In addition, it does not include other user groups, such as fat tired bikes, skiers, dog sledders, and others.

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February, 2020 - MICHIGAN SNOWMOBILER 25

MISORVA Meets in St. Ignace By Jim Duke As the newly elected Officers assume their appointed duties, the first meeting of the Michigan Snowmobile and ORV Association (MISORVA) took place at the Kewadin Resort and Casino in St. Ignace located at 3015 Mackinac Trail. Approximately 55 snowmobile and off-road enthusiasts turned out to discuss concerns facing both of these motorized recreational endeavors as we move forward into 2020. Unfortunately, there were no Department of Natural Resources personnel in attendance, even though the Parks and Recreation Division of the Department administers and manages both programs. Among the several items listed on the agenda, always a very important issue is new member recruitment and retention of current members. What can be offered that would encourage nonmember snowmobilers and off-road vehicle enthusiasts to join forces and take part in preserving motorized recreational access on public lands while developing additional trails and areas to ride? This seems to be an on-going dilemma

with no good answer. There are many benefits to be had that may not be considered by most because on the surface they aren’t really for personal gain, and unfortunately the “what’s in it for me” attitude overrides the privileges gained for everyone in the long run. A proposal that perhaps a Public Relations Committee met with positive response from a majority of the attendees and discussion of what would be the goals and overall duties of the committee members produced several very good ideas. Of primary concern is to get a positive image out to the public about the mission of MISORVA, and dispel the misinformation circulating about any underlying reasons for the merger of the two primary trail user groups, and the only two that have a self-funding formula that pays for the upkeep and maintenance of not only the trails, but for both program’s grooming equipment as well. A committee chairperson was appointed and is now actively seeking committee members to move the established goals forward. The Legislative Committee Chair reported on the several proposals that have

been previously presented to our state lawmakers for consideration and how we might expect to see changes to the laws which govern our association’s activities once they have made their way through the legislative process, if and when these proposals are accepted and action taken to get House and Senate approval. One huge hurdle the association is facing on the legislative front is a conflict in the dates between those selected for the 2020 Legislative Snowmobile Ride and for a two-day session slated for all the Michigan Trails Advisory Council’s Subcommittees. A request to both the DNR and the Legislators involved to consider a change of dates has proved un-

successful. Of course, by the time this goes to print, the dates will have passed and the outcome unreported. Another condition still yet undetermined and discussed at the MISORVA meeting is the appointments to fill vacancies on the Snowmobile Advisory Workgroup, one of the subcommittees mentioned that must participate in the DNR

/MTAC sanctioned meetings, to consider and comment on the previous State Trails Plan. Which goals have been accomplished and which are still outstanding, which will remain in the plan and what new goals should be considered. All very important matters, but there is only so many days avail-

Continued on page 26

Newly elected officers ready to conduct association business. (L-R) Mark Pankner, Treasurer; Jim Kelts, President; John Newman, Vice President; and Karyn Hautamaki, Secretary. The Past President Rick Brown was not in attendance for the photo.

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26 MICHIGAN SNOWMOBILER - February, 2020 able and something has to give… which it will be, remains to be seen. A report on current action items on the American Council of Snowmobile Associations (ACSA) agenda was presented and an important issue discussed was the upcoming International Snowmobile Congress that will be held in June. The location for this annually occurring event will be Hilton’s Double Tree Hotel & Conference Center in R e g i n a , Saskatchewan, Canada. The dates are the 10th though the 13th. This International gathering of snowmobile leaders and enthusiasts from the United States, Canada, and other countries around the world is an event not to be missed, and Michigan always has a delegation in attendance. A highlight of this meeting was the presentation of a check in the amount of $5,000 by Mr. Ed Richter, for MISORVA’s volunteers that work to make the SnoMotion event each year a big success. Ed is also a member of the Board of Directors, representing commercial members in District 8 of Region 3. Without our business partners such as Mr. Richter, organizations such as MISORVA would not have the funding to produce the positive results that all trail user groups continue to enjoy, A huge thank

the Workshop voluntarily even if the DNR denies the request for an official meeting. The next scheduled meeting of the MISORVA will be on Saturday March 21st, convening promptly at 10:00AM. Committee meetings as necessary will be prior, beApproximately 60 members and guests attended the tween 9:00AM and meeting and took part in the deliberations. 10:00AM. The location you to Mr. Ed Richter including the fireside Workgroup has a for this meeting has for this generous do- socializing each meeting on Thursday not yet been annation. evening. More infor- and is available during nounced, depending The Recreation mation to be forthcom- the Groomer Work- on facility availability. Committee has been ing. shop for roundtable The selected facility busy planning and imA reminder also, discussions with the and location will be plementing activities that the Groomer sponsors, vendors, posted in the MISIRVA for 2020 beginning Workshop will be held and manufacturer Fresh Tracks webpage with the annual Snow- again this year on reps. Currently, the when finalized. The ofmobile Ride-In. It will March 6th – 8th 2020 SAW members are en- ficers and members be held at the Northern at the Kewadin Resort couraging the DNR wish everyone a safe Waters Resort & & Casino in Sault Ste. program administra- and enjoyable snowCasino in Watersmeet, Marie, Michigan, be- tors to continue this mobile season… Ride Michigan with plenty of ginning with a wel- tradition but no re- Safe, Ride Right, and games, guided snow- come reception on sponse has been re- always Ride Sober! mobile rides, and Thursday evening the ceived to date. Several things to keep even 5th. Usually, the SAW members have A the most relaxed indi- Snowmobile Advisory stated they may attend viduals from being bored. The dates are February 6th through the 9th, registrations and reservations must be made through the MISORVA office. A block of rooms at discounted rates has been procured strictly for this event. They are also working diligently to host another summer activity including off-road vehicle rides and a camp-out, to be held in June at the Headwaters Cabins & Campground near Frederic, Michigan. The dates for this event will be the 19th through the 21st and again, there will be plenty of games and other activities for everyone’s enjoyment,

February, 2020 - MICHIGAN SNOWMOBILER 27

Vintage Sled of the Month 1966 Sno Jet here at the Top of the Lake Snowmobile Museum in Naubinway, they didn’t have one. But, they do have a 1966 Sno-Jet, so I am going with that one. So, my Vintage Sled of the Month is the 1966 Sno-Jet. But, first, my sled. I was 9. It was Christmas. And, in my Christmas stocking, there was this little present. When I opened it, there was a key in it. As soon as I saw it, I knew it was a key to a snowmobile. Because, it had the local snowmobile dealership’s logo on the chain. I was literally com-

By Stephen King Hey guys, I’ve had a theme going the last couple of months. That is, I just passed a personal milestone. It’s been 25 years now that I have been writing for this fine publication. And I have been taking you readers down some memory trails with me. So, on this last Vintage Sled of the Month for this year, I am going to keep that same idea going. So, this is not a story about my first sled. That was a 1967 Sno Jet. I would have liked to have done a story on that one. But,

ing off the ground, I was so happy. Then, for the rest of that winter, and for many winters to follow, around and around in the field behind my house I went. That little key began a life long love of snowmobiling and motor sports.

From the side, notice the bogey's, the leaf springs, and the design, which was "state of the art" back then.

Like the power plant. A one lunger with about 13.5 h.p. A front view of the 1966 Sno-Jet.

Now, the sled in the Museum has a couple of really cool stories. First, it belongs to Museum founder and curator Charlie Vallier. He told me that he bought it at a local auction many years ago. Stayed there all day, waiting for it to come up. Then, finally got it for the whopping price of $5. Since then, he has to-



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28 MICHIGAN SNOWMOBILER - February, 2020 tally restored it to just about original showroom quality. And, I’m pretty sure if he ever wanted to sell it, he would get a whole lot more than $5 for it. As for Sno-Jet, it was born back in about 1965 when Maurice Fillion and Paul-Emile Roy found an investor and started producing a small snowmobile they had designed. It was produced in Thetford Mines, Quebec. The first production year was 1965 and they made and sold a meager 25 sleds. But, they had a good design and a good machine and the company took off like a snow jet. The next year, in 1966, they made about 1,100, with about 300 going to the U.S. Three years later, and their plant was spitting out about 15,000 sleds. And, the Sno-Jet had become one of the more popu-

lar brands of the Golden Age of snowmobiling. Then, with their success, came an offer. Glastron, the boat company, was interested. And, the original owners and designers decided to take the money and jet away. Glatsron did the same. Moving the Headquarters from Quebec to Minnesota. But, most of the sleds continued to be made in Canada. With the change in ownership, the company continued to grow. They peaked out in 1970 when they produced about 30,000 sleds. By that time, they had over 20 different kinds of Sno-Jet with a host of engines available. Then came the oil crisis of the early 1970s. This spelled the doom of most of the 100 or so companies that were producing sleds. At that time, the

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market was flooded, with too many makers. The crisis slowed the industry and most went under. For Sno-Jet, in 1966 they were sold to Kawasaki. Then, shortly after, Kawasaki got out of the snowmobile business and the age of the Sno-Jet was over. The last Sno-Jets were produced in 1977. Back in 1966, the Sno-Jet was the sled of the day. They were modeled quite a bit like the Ski-Doo that Bombarier had produced. So much so that SkiDoo even filed suit. Like, they had the same single engine. The first ones were 10.5 h.p. The 1966’s had a 300 cc 13.5 h.p. power plant. They had the rubber track. Basic handle bar steering. Leaf spring suspension. A single head light and tail light. And, a gas filler cap just below the head light.

The selling price was $895. For me, mine had a 15 h.p engine. And, the same basic design as the 1966, with a top end of about 25 mph. For a 9 year old kid, I had found Heaven. For me, snowmobiling became part of my life. Over 50 years later, I


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am looking back at a 25 year career in snowmobiling, which has been a dream job for me. So, thanks Mom and Dad, for the little key on that Christmas morning, that gave me a fantastic life.

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February, 2020 - MICHIGAN SNOWMOBILER 29

Hidden Hazards By Jim Duke At the risk of repeating what most seasoned snowmobilers already know, and the chorus of “preaching to the choir” comments that’s sure to follow, I think it’s the appropriate time to remind everyone about a few safety tips. With the snowmobile season now in full swing, perhaps relating an occurrence observed while enjoying the colors on a Fall ATV ride along a trail in a western upper peninsula county might better illustrate what I’m trying to get across. The area in question was a combination of a winding trail through heavily wooded forest with limited vision, where the leaves were a variety of colors from brilliant yellows and orange to several different shades of red and then stretches of straight runs where one could see quite a distance ahead. In the woods, it was evident that a prior logging operation had left debris near the trail surface, as well as some stumps cut close to the ground. While a large number of trail users prefer a slower pace to enjoy the beauty of what nature

has to offer, there’s al- zens and DNR personways a few individuals nel present, a discussion who get an adrenalin about timber sales came rush from a much faster up and questions as to ride, flying low over the what is required of the trail surface with total loggers doing the work, abandon, with blinders both during operations on, and seeing nothing and upon completion of except what is directly in the job. It is Forest Manfront of them. Of course, agement’s position that in both situations there’s the area being logged always the possibility for must be returned to as Once the water begins to flow, trails are a mishap, but chances near the original condidestroyed quickly & can become very are the latter would suf- tion as possible once dangerous. fer a much more severe completed, but we all consequence than the know that rarely hap- jobsite will be on both porary warning signs a former. pens. It compounds the sides of the trail and safe distance from the It is the responsibility problem when the area stacking the cut timber is work area, however, cauof the grant sponsor to to be logged is in close most convenient for tion cannot be expressed maintain the trails as as- proximity to the trail and them to load from the enough. Sometime in the dissigned, and without ex- the equipment neces- trail itself. When this ocception they do so to the sary for the operation curs without advance no- tant past, a request was best of their ability but must use the trail to ac- tice, trail users must made to leave a buffer of there may be occasion cess the work site and contend with the possi- trees between the trail when a washout occurs will almost always plow bility of encounters with and the area where the or a tree falls across the down to bare ground. log-haulers, skidders, timber is scheduled to be trail and goes unnoticed Worse yet, the heavy and other such equip- cut, but the agency perfor an extended period of equipment causes rut- ment blocking the trail, sonnel responsible for time, especially when the ting and as the snow and although not usually negotiating timber sales groomers must groom by covers the surface, a hid- hidden, this is a huge has stated that requiresafety hazard. Generally, ment usually is omitted sections rather than the den hazard emerges. entire length of trail each Occasionally, the the loggers will post tem- when the contracts are written and the company day. Such hazards can doing the cutting wants be an accident waiting to to get as many logs as happen when the trail possible, so when a users aren’t using proper buffer does remain, more caution during their ride, than likely it isn’t adeand just because they quate for the purpose are very familiar with the and becomes a source area and have been over for hazards rather than a the trail many times prior means for preventing is no reason to throw them. A buffer of too few abandon to the winds. At a recent meeting Tree branches can fall into the trails any- trees won’t block the drifts and a strong wind with both individual citi- time, making some work for the groomers.




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30 MICHIGAN SNOWMOBILER - February, 2020 can bring them down across the trail, perpetuating the possible dangers, as witnessed with the recent Thanksgiving week storms around the state. In my own area of Alger County, all the work previously done to get the trails ready for snowmobiling season was for naught and the damage left once the storms subsided was, to say the least, devastating. With a minimum of two hundred trees blown down and several hundred broken branches and brush into the trails, there wasn’t near enough time, equipment, nor manpower to recover and have the trails open by December 1st.. This same scenario was echoed by almost every grant sponsor and grooming entity throughout both the Upper and Lower Peninsulas. In fact, most trails remained closed well into the final month of the year and some remain closed as of this writing, not due to lack of snow but rather due to safety concerns, and of course, hidden hazards. For the most part, snowmobilers understood the dilemma and several clubs offered assistance with extra help to clean up the trails, and that additional workforce was welcomed with open arms. Unfortunately, there too, is a small contingency of snowmobilers who can’t, or won’t, understand why the trails weren’t ready and remained closed‌ after all, they paid the fees for their trail permits, there was adequate snow, and by George nobody was going to stop them from getting out on the trails, closed or not! It’s no wonder then that the

A washout can be a real hazard anytime of the year, especially when riding at night. newspapers and social media had plenty to report on about accidents, injuries, and even fatalities, with most of the blame erroneously pointed at the grant sponsors for lack of preparation, communication, and common sense. By Christmas week, 90% of the trails were either open or rerouted, and most of the remainder had been closed due to conditions experienced long before these recent storms and may not be opened again for several years to come. The massive washouts that occurred as a result of the Father’s Day floods in the Keweenaw, for example, created canyons, some more than three hundred feet deep and a quarter-mile in length. To repair and rebuild will require an undertaking far greater than the DNR is capable of, even if the funding is available for it. The unstable ground in the area is cause enough to stay clear, however, even with all the publicity and reported announcements that these trails are, and will remain closed, it’s been reported that some would-be daredevils are not taking the “Do Not Enter� and “Caution� signs seriously and going around the barricades to see for themselves what hazards

exist. There were many other hazards to contend with, however, due to the overabundance of snow that fell between Thanksgiving and the first of December, primarily from trees that were across the trails and now covered by the heavy snows, and later into December from the first thaw caused by an extended period of very warm and unseasonal weather which created some massive wet areas and even a few washouts in the trails caused by the run-off. With the increasing popularity of off-trail riding comes another hazard, not new by any means but until recently not of a major concern, that being hidden fences. As the snows get deeper, wire fencing can become covered and almost impossible to see. Add the reduced visibility due to face shield fogging or snow dust and it becomes a very real hazard. Granted, fencing such as this rarely exists on state lands but is quite common where private landowners wish to preserve their crop fields or prevent livestock from wandering beyond their boundaries. The temptation to leave the groomed trail and blaze a new path through virgin snows should be suppressed unless the

riders know where they are, that they are not trespassing, and that there are no hidden hazards‌ to do otherwise can, and most likely will, ruin the day’s adventure. In summary, a word to the wise‌ and especially the unwise, to be cognizant of your surroundings and pay strict attention and adherence to any signage warning of hazardous conditions, whether temporary or permanent. They aren’t placed there to interfere with your enjoyment but rather to make sure you can safely do so. There can be any number of hidden hazards within the designated trails system, some known and some that may occur within the time between

daily grooms. A tree may fall across the trail at any time, a water hole may open up due to beaver dams or snowmelt runoff, and don’t rule out unexpected obstacles such as unauthorized vehicles of any sort also using the trails. Always ride within your own capabilities, don’t overdrive your headlights at night, and don’t be goaded into operating in unsafe conditions. Be on the lookout for hazards on or near the trail surface and remember‌ the definitive word is “hiddenâ€?. NOTE: Some of the photos are from Facebook posts by snowmobiling friends.

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February, 2020 - MICHIGAN SNOWMOBILER 31

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