Do you frozen paddlers snow mobile?

I had a work friend from Minnesota who was an avid snowmobiler . She talked about riding for hours with stops at strategic water holes.
Are snow mobiles the terrestrial equivalent of jet skis? From what I’ve seen, I’d be doing whatever I could to get out of the house.
Are xcountry skiers more like paddlers?
Is a solid week of non stop rain and 40ish temps getting to me?

Absolutely not!!! No snowmobiles, no ATVs in my life, not in my life choice. Even though I live in deep snow county and therefore I have to make allowance for avoidance of the ilk. They purposely ruin XC ski trials, are noisy and smelly, run dangerously on roads where they are not allowed to be by law, and are altogether just plain obnoxious. Their main aim is how many bars can they stop at to get drunk and brag at it in a day of riding. Same category as jet skis, yes.


No. They don’t float very well and people keep crashing through ice they shouldn’t even have been anywhere near in the first place, only to be found in the spring 5 miles downstream. So I guess I’ll start snowmobiling the day they make PFDs mandatory (which is never) or they develop auto-inflating floats for the machines.

I think cross-country skiing is more the norm for paddlers up north in cold weather.

Today I asked my 80 year old barber if he was tired of winter. He said NO! He said he has 70 acres and direct access to 600 miles of snowmobile trails from his garage and was looking forward to a trip up north to snowmobile with friends. He was happy about our winter storm warning even though we already have plenty of snow. I think snowmobiles aren’t as inherently evil as jet skis.


And I think the only inherent evil is the humans who use them to that end.

Most of the paddlers that I know either x-country Ski and/or snowshoe. One of the folks that I’ve been known to paddle with used to own a funeral parlor in Charlevoix. He considered snowmobilers potential customers.

Snowmobiles are snow lice. Loud and stinky, they disturb wildlife and the quiet music of the forests.

My scanner is busy with weekend accident reports of snowmobilers plowing into trees and sometimes other snowmobiles. Motel parking lots are filled with trucks and snowmobile trailers. Good for segments of the economy, but bars and restaurants were just allowed to reopen and are limited to 25% capacity.

I can easily get out of the house, don a pair of snowshoes, and walk along the shore of the lake I paddle when the water is liquid. Sometimes I’ll put a pair of YakTrax on my boots and hike the two-track road through the woods just north of my home. But only midweek, when the downstaters aren’t here.

Hey, string. We’ve had a week of non-stop snow, sometimes lake effect, wind chills of -20F and subzero air temps. Enjoy your balmy weather!


I cross country ski and paddle. Never understood how sitting and pressing down on the gas constituted a sport. I like to move. But to each his or her own.

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I have been on designated ski trails when a train of up to 20 machines noisily roared by. i don’t understand the draw when, the second in line and beyond only gets a face full of snow dust thrown up by those in front. Can’t see anything, can’t hear anything. might as well be in an arcade game, but that is probably the point, isn’t it? And the smell… why not just pour a gallon of gasoline over your head.


I have to confess to having a pretty dim view of snowmobiles also. I don’t like the noise and the stink of gasoline exhaust on the fresh winter breeze. Most of the paddlers I know cross country, though I can’t think of any that get really deeply into it. (BTW, Did you guys notice they are holding the Birkebeiner this year with social distancing? Nice!) And I have a coupe of distant (non-paddling) acquaintances that live in the northern part of the state who are into dog sledding. I mention this because I can see how snowmobiling could be more like that…

I have to say that clear quiet winter nights in deep forest can be truly magical. I love them. I came to appreciate them through snow making, I guess. I love a nice roaring campfire under those clear starry skies or with a full moon casting moon shadows on the snow…
I can see, though, how a person could get into winter camping by snow mobile, like the dog sledders and xcountry skiers north of here sometimes do. There’s just a lot of stuff-hauling involved in winter camping - heavy tents, lotsa food and coffee, folding wood stoves, possibly hauling in some good oak firewood, and cots are nice on snow or ice, for instance - that could be transported with a sled behind a snow mobile much more practically than by by dog sled or sledging it behind cross country skis as is sometimes done. There are a bunch of beautiful trails along the N. Shore of Superior and the state forests of northern Wisconsin that could get a person to some very isolated and beautiful places by snowmobile… the idea of just getting 10 or 15 miles out there without too much ado and setting camp in a quiet beautiful place for a few days has its appeal. Once there, just park the thing, set camp, and ski or ice fish or do whatever you like… It would be, I’d think, the winter equivalent of the motor boat fishing/camping trip. Not an entirely evil activity…

I don’t know of any snowmobilers that do that though. Mostly they seem to just race around burning gas, out-driving their headlights, scattering the wildlife, going from tavern to tavern. At least so it seems in this part of the state. And, yes, they have accidents and go through the ice. Always a few every year. I find that pretty objectionable, though I guess it is good for some businesses in non-Covid years. So many ugly things can be justified with economics…

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Rookie, trapped inside by C19 and seemingly non stop rain is nothing to enjoy. My white dog will be grey at best until this stops and she is 60 lbs of restless.
As long as I could hike , I loved doing it in the snow. Always wanted to try snow shoes but we never had enough snow.
I’ve never met anyone who enjoyed hiking in mud.

More paddlers are xc skiers and snowshoers. The adventurous ones camp overnight in winter.

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“Jet ski”…(newer bigger) Most around here are like weekend snow machine people. However we have a small group that have outfitted them to go offshore and fish.

I’m sure there are trappers using them to run their trap lines, but where most of us live it is city people goofing off.

I’m sure some do I paddle, the wife paddles but we also have a water ski boat in the garage with serious skis. We may be the only ones in the two clubs with a water ski problem. Typical I assume to northern winter areas.

No way!

As an actual transportation mode of necessity (e.g., in parts of AK), they make sense, because driving a car isn’t possible.

As a recreation toy, they’re horrible inflictions on other people and surroundings. Recreation does not have to mean using motors during the activity. The multiple problems of obesity, poor general health, and thoughtless waste are diminished when people do self-propelled recreation. Exactly the opposite with motor-dependent recreation.

The same for ATVs and other motorized toys. Useful tools for certain things and used responsibly, but a plague otherwise.

Fresh air, String? I’m getting it from my winter “sport” of shoveling, again. Four hours nonstop on Sunday, 3.25 Monday, and at least as much today because it snowed yet again last night. And this sht is east-coast-style heavy, wet stuff. Slow going,

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Global warming is really chilly!

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Not a fan of snowmobiles or jet skis. Worst jet ski moment was kayaking on a 15 foot wide, 6 inch deep stream out of Higgins Lake in wilderness only to have two jet skis roar by.

I snowmobiled once when I was a kid, getting up to 60mph on a lake was exhilarating. But you sure aren’t going to see any wildlife, there was no reverse, and if you went around blind curves at speed you could easily find yourself choosing between hitting a skidoo head on or a tree.

Took a trip to Michigan’s UP for dog sledding a couple of years back and the economics of snowmobiling there was a real eye opener. Lakes are lined with summer cottages, and out of 1000 maybe 3 had lights on at night - nobody home. OTOH the motels, bars and restaurants are busy thanks to snowmobilers. We stopped at the brew pub at Tahquamenon, two other cars and well over 100 snowmobiles in the parking lot. Typical “lets drop $1000 in the UP on a four day weekend” case: drive up from Columbus OH with a trailer, night at the Soo. Snowmobile to Marquette on National Forest groomed trails, hotel there. Back to the Soo the next day, then home. And at EDS there was a yearly Soo to Thunder Bay (far end of Lake Superior) trip. Scenery in both cases is gorgeous but the opposite of the quiet commune with nature that I get while paddling. Kind of like driving thru Yellowstone without getting out of the car and walking - pretty, but misses the whole point.

Dog sledding on the other hand was, after you left the kennel, quiet as Xcountry skiing. But nobody warns you about what it smells like behind six dogs on 5000 calorie a day diets who all let loose while on the run.

Unless you are the lead dog…

I did in my younger years, more snowmobiling than paddling through a season cycle by far.

Lost interest in motor toys over the years, they didn’t fit in my uncle sams nomad pirate life style.

I was xcountry skiing “off season” from paddling, but both are someone that I used to love.

Brothers got an old 4 wheeler that never leaves private property 120 acres. I last rode it 7-8 years ago.
It was too epic I guess.

Peace J

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I owned as many as two snowmobiles, although one was a vintage putter that my kids learned on. I am down to one, a 2-up, that we use for ice fishing. Haven’t had it out yet this year due to slow-developing ice. There’s still open water on Hamlin Lake near my house, which I can’t believe after single-digit nights for a week. As a reporter for 25 years in this area, I can tell you that sleds going through the ice is very rare compared to snowmobile vs. tree collisions. It does happen, primarily on Houghton Lake – the state’s largest inland lake.

It’s funny to hear the generalizations about lack of respect for the resource here, which are the same generalizations that wading fly anglers make about the “Tupperware hatch” on our world-class trout streams. And those energy-drink cans and water bottles and beer cans aren’t coming from the fishermen in a lot of cases. Snowmobilers do spend a ton of money and not all of it is on alcohol.

I also snowshoe, I cross-country skied as a kid but I saw fewer animals doing that than I do on snowshoes. I was kicking myself in November for not picking up a fourth pair of snowshoes for the family, then at the end of January I felt like an idiot owning any snowshoes at all. Today I got out for a long hike near the Elk Campground on the PM River. Just me and the deer.

In the winter I cross-country ski, alpine ski, snowshoe, fat bike, and skate when the conditions are right.

I’ve never owned a snowmobile but don’t hate them. I’ve ridden a few times and they were fun, but not enough fun to own one. I have friends with snowmobiles that use them to access back country skiing and I have to admit that it’s nice to be able to ski some incredible terrain without having to ski for hours on the approach. I also have friends that enjoy snowmobiling on the hundreds of miles of trails here. Others use them for ice fishing access. All good reasons to own one if you’re serious about it.

But there will always be the jerks that abuse their privileges and put snowmobiling in a bad light. No different than any activity that can negatively affect people or wildlife or the environment if not done responsibly.