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How to Add Some Excitement to Cold Winter Days
"Holding my breath until Spring," is the answer I'm hearing out of most Midwestern folks when asked what they've been up to since the new year kicked in. If you live in a Northern state, what else is there to do this time of year, when it seems outdoor activities are completely out of the question? Or at least, many folks who have never tried snowmobiling would seem to think.
I used to think snowmobiling was for Eskimos. How could anyone not immune to frost bite tolerate high speed cruising on a sled in the open air surrounded by an atmosphere of subzero temperatures? Then one day back in 2003 I was invited to try it myself. Reluctantly I thereafter engaged in a 150 mile sledding adventure with my invitee over Kabetogama and Crane Lakes in Northern Minnesota. To make a long story short, within a couple of weeks following this trip, I owned a sled of my own. Since then I've taken my Polaris Indy Classic out for more rides than I can count. Yes, even when it's below zero outside, and while everyone else is snuggled indoors in front of their fireplaces, you'll likely find me on a trail somewhere whipping around curves and roaring over hills in the wilderness enjoying the winter on my sled. Only a dangerously cold day could come between me and the thrill of an exciting sled ride.
So how does one tolerate the cold while out ripping through the snowmobile trails in open air? the answer of course is in the attire: your helmet covers your face and skull, your snow suit covers you body, insulated boots over thick socks keep your feet warm, and thick gloves over your hands prevent your fingers from freezing. Most modern snowmobiles have electric hand warmers on the handlebars as well to assist with preventing frost bite below the wrists. It's astonishing, but you can honestly stay snug while snowmobiling, regardless of how cold it is outside. Even if you despise cold weather, as I do, so long as you dress appropriately subzero temperatures shouldn't be an issue while out enjoying the snow covered trails.
So why snowmobile, as opposed to other winter sports, like ice skating, ice fishing, and cross country skiing? While I personally enjoy other winter activities as well, I rank snowmobiling above any other activity exciting enough to keep a person outside in the cold for longer than a few minutes. There's nothing I'd rather do in January outdoors than hop on my sled and rip through the snowmobile trails for an afternoon, and into the evening. I find it more enjoyable even then boating,or driving four wheeler during the summer months, activities I've done plenty of as well. Snowmobile trails are unique and isolated, oftentimes with very little traffic. It's a world you don't see while driving down the common highways in an automobile, and unlike an automobile you never have to worry about slipping off an icy road and into the ditch. It's also an opportunity to test your wits on open trails. I can assure you, modern snowmobiles can move extremely fast. If you've ever experienced terminal velocity while skydiving, the wind you feel while sledding at full throttle on a straight stretch is very similar.
There are obvious dangers associated with it as well, as there are with any activity involving motor vehicles, which is why I'd caution anyone tempted to try it to be weary until they become somewhat familiar with the trails they plan to utilize the most. Frozen lakes are good places to break in snowmobiling, as there's no hills or trees to deal with. While ice dams, small islands, thin ice, and other snowmobilers can create concerns on the lakes, so long as you're careful and stay on the groomed trails, there's not a lot you need to worry about wherever you may end up on your sled.
If you enjoy a thrilling adventure and you've never tried it, all I can say it's time to get started. If you've never seen a sunset from a quiet, serene snowmobile trail, surrounded by nothing but wilderness and glistening fresh snow, you've been missing out. I assure you, you'll never find yourself counting the days until Spring again.