An Open Letter To Fellow Snowmobilers After Dogsled Hit & Run
I saw the headline and it just made me sick. Not far from the Twin Ports, a reckless snowmobiler struck a dogsled and severely injured a couple of dogs. It happened this last Saturday between Hughes and Iron River, Wisconsin to Ryan Redington and his dogs. Ryan is a musher who has been in both the Iditarod and John Beargrease Sled Dog Marathon, and he was out training with his team when this occurred.
Even worse, Redington and his training partner Sarah believe that the snowmobile driver intentionally sped up and veered towards the team.
I was hoping at first that it was an accident. I mean, what kind of jerk would actually steer towards a dogsled team? It did happen after sunset, but Redington and his team have reflective lights and LED headlamps with very strong beams. Still, a snowmobile is a fast machine and who knows how easy it actually is to spot them. Most people riding at night are just used to watching for coming snowmobile lights. I'm still hoping this wasn't intentional. Unless someone comes forward, we'll never hear their side of the story.
If it was an accident, you'd think the person would surely have stopped to check on them. That is unless they were drunk and didn't want to get in trouble. Sadly, I doubt we will never know. Being on the trails after dark is a catch 22. You can see the sleds coming through the woods with their headlights on easier, but there's also a chance they just left the bar liquored up.
This really sucks. This gives the snowmobiling community a very bad look. Believe it or not, fellow snowmobilers, not everyone likes us. Most of us have experienced a situation where someone has been upset with us even if we are legally riding in a ditch from trail to trail or something. Landowners who are gracious enough to grant trail access through their private property have to deal with idiots who leave the trail and ride around on their land. It happens all over the place every single year.
99% of people who snowmobile are responsible folks. It's a great community of people that often lend a hand to each other. If you are on the side of a trail broke down alone, another rider always stops and lends a hand. We're good people and we're good for the economy, bringing money into resorts and restaurants in these small Northland towns.
This last Saturday when this incident occurred, I was riding with a friend along the CJ Ramstad Northshore trail near Duluth. We parked at the trailhead and I noticed a musher's truck was there. I knew to be on the lookout for a dogsled team. You should always be on the lookout for anything on the trail anyway. Sure enough, we came up behind the dog sled team. We waited for a straight section to pass, giving them plenty of room behind them. Then we slowly passed the team staying as far away as possible and giving a friendly wave as we went by. It's ironic, because when we got done riding and we talked about seeing the sled dogs we both commented on how nerve wracking that must be riding on a snowmobile trail. But where else should they train?
A little later we came up on a woman walking her dog along the trail. Once again, we smiled and waved. Something else to consider though, walking your dog on a snowmobile trail can be dangerous, especially at night. If you hear a sled coming it's best to get completely off the trail.
Still it's up to us to be nice, considerate, ambassadors of the sport. We need to share the trails, follow the rules, and ride sober. Join a snowmobile club. Call out bad behavior when you see it.
And please, if you have any information on who this person is please let the authorities know.
In good news, the dogs should make a recovery after upcoming surgeries. The GoFundMe page goal was to raise $9,000. In a short amount of time, they raised over $25,000.
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