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A group photo on Friday’s ride, taken at the new Doty Bridge.

Summer Fun

By Jim Duke

It’s no secret that snowmobilers know how to have fun in the warmer months as well as when the landscapes are totally white with snow, but many folks wonder why they are always upbeat and optimistic about whatever recreational activity they may wish to enjoy? Statistics gathered by Ed Klim, President of the International Snowmobile Manufacturers Association (ISMA) indicates snowmobile enthusiasts enjoy a multitude of other recreational endeavors when their favorite season is still a few months away, including camping, boating, biking or hiking, and even backpacking into the woods for an opportunity to find a secluded spot for some quiet and serious meditation. One of their favorite pastimes in the warmer months is still getting out on the trails, but with an ATV or a side-by-side off-road vehicle. As one enthusiast told me recently, the same landscape looks entirely different when there’s no snow covering it.

Sylvia Newman, MISORVA’s First Lady, feels pretty small in that big chair.
Sylvia Newman, MISORVA’s First Lady, feels pretty small in that big chair.

So, with the pandemic restrictions eased and outside gathering capacities increased, the Michigan Snowmobile & ORV Association held their annual Campout and ORV rides the last weekend of June at the Otter Lake Campground in the Upper Peninsula’s Alger County. Although the turnout was not a large as in previous events those who did attend weren’t disappointed. Keith & Susan Churill, President and Secretary of the Alger County SORVA acted as host & hostess for the event including the planning and execution of two guided ORV rides. I was privileged to ride along with them on Saturday’s adventure.

The MISORVA banner tells folks the Association is here.
The MISORVA banner tells folks the Association is here.
Otter Lake Campground, located in Western Alger County on Buckhorn Road.
Otter Lake Campground, located in Western Alger County on Buckhorn Road

On Friday, the ride headed east and south with a brief stop at the new Doty Trestle Bridge, some playtime at the Thunder bowl just south of Stuben, a lunch stop at the Jack Pine Tavern, and some extensive backroads exploring before returning to their campsites. Then on Saturday morning, eleven side-by-sides and four ATV’s lined up for the second day of off-road adventures. The run began with a  trail stop on the Manistique to Marquette grade near Scott Falls then on over to the scenic overlook at the Au Train dunes for some great photo-ops, then on eastward for an extended stop at Lakenenland which seems to get bigger each time we visit there.

The group lined up at Au Train’s Lake Superior Overlook for a short break.
The group lined up at Au Train’s Lake Superior Overlook for a short break.

Back on the trails, we took some forest roads and two-tracks into the Village of Chatham where we had a planned lunch stop and some time to discuss the day’s activities. Although the weather forecast was somewhat threatening, the rain held off throughout the entire ride and just began to sprinkle as we returned to the campground. Plans for the evening would include a bonfire and a pinata for the kids, and hopefully remain dry for just a bit longer.

All lined up and ready to continue the adventure, next stop… Chatham.
All lined up and ready to continue the adventure, next stop… Chatham.

Sunday morning is always bittersweet when campers began folding up awnings and preparing to head in different directions for their trip home, but with lots of memories of this year’s campout and ORV Rides, and plans to repeat the experience next summer, dates and location yet to be determined, but one thing is for sure, wherever it will be, it will be a fun filled and exciting event. Until then, stay safe and enjoy the great outdoors. •

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