Three Old Guys embark on a snowmobile trek from Minnesota to Alaska through the Valley

Published on Tuesday, 07 March 2023 11:28

A group of avid snowmobilers have embarked on a cross-country snowmobile journey from Grand Rapids, Minnesota to Fairbanks, Alaska and will be passing through Swan River and The Pas on their trek. Rob Hallstrom is the youngest rider in the group at age 65, Paul Dick is 72 and Rex Hibbert will turn 70 while on the trip. Hallstrom, Dick and Hibbert refer to themselves as 3 Old Guys and they’re always up for a challenge.
“We’re always up for some kind of adventure,” said Hallstrom. “We went to Churchill in 2019, and at the end of that trip, we were already kind of talking about what we could do that would be bigger than that. We had a really good time on that trip and that sort of started the rumblings for us to go to Alaska.”
All three of the snowmobilers have extensive experience in long-distance riding, but this may very well be the longest journey yet. Each of them will tow sleds with supplies that include spare snowmobile parts, gasoline, a hot tent, sleeping bags and essentials.
“We’re coming from Minnesota and we’re estimating it will be about 4,500 miles to make the journey,” said Hallstrom. “When we went to Churchill, that was about 3,000 miles, but that was a round trip.
On this trip to Alaska, we will be snowmobiling there, and then flying back.
“We’ve done quite a few trips and I’ve done even more on my own. My partners, Rex and Paul, have been in the Iron Dog Race in Alaska and all three of us have been in the Cain’s Quest in Labrador. We’re all getting a little older, so instead of racing, we’re doing some touring.
“We riding 8000x Arctic Cat Norseman snowmobiles with all three of us riding the same model,” said Hallstrom. “We have a general plan that the entire trip will require 22 riding days. I’m sure there will be times when we want to take a day off or need to stop and do some repairs or due to the weather. There are quite a few unknowns in this, but we have a route planned and figure it should take about a month depending on what we find on the trail.”
The 3 Old Guys are a bit daredevil, as they embark on this journey without having someone following them in a vehicle along the way.
“We’re not planning on having someone follow us with a trailer on this journey, because from Grand Rapids, Minnesota to Flin Flon, Manitoba, there’s a good trail network, even though that would work for that portion of the trip,” said Hallstrom. “After we leave Flin Flon, we’re going to be going through such remote areas, that it will be extremely difficult to have someone follow us closely with a chase vehicle, so we’re basically going to be on our own.”
They have their route charted with much of it being in remote areas across northern Canada. They will have a few different satellite communicators that will allow them to send text messages and let a few people follow their journey in real-time. This also allows them to call out for assistance in case of an emergency.
“We’re going to take the trail up to Flin Flon, then we going to take the old Cat trails to Sandy Bay, then go on to the south end on Reindeer Lake,” said Hallstrom. “From there we’ll head to Wollaston Lake and cut across to Lake Athabasca and cut across it. Then go up to the Great Slave River to the Mackenzie River and all the way up it to the Arctic Ocean. Then we’ll cross by the Richardson Mountains to the Porcupine River and take that down to the southwest part of the Yukon River. From there we will follow the Yukon Quest sled dog trail into Fairbanks. It’s quite a route and pretty remote, so it would be hard to follow by vehicle.
“We’re trying to stay in hotels along the way, wherever we can. There are a few places where we may stay in a trapper’s cabin and we have a tent with us for those places where we have to camp out. We’re prepared for that and definitely think we will have to do that a few times.”
As the 3 Old Guys make their journey into Manitoba, they have plans to stop in Swan River and will be passing through The Pas as they head into Flin Flon.
“We’ll be entering Canada close to Falcon Lake, go through Gimli and Lake Winnipeg,” said Hallstrom. “Then head west to Swan River and follow the trail north to The Pas and Flin Flon.
“If everything goes according to plan, we hope to be in Swan River and The Pas on Wednesday or Thursday. We are planning to make a stop in Swan River before heading north to The Pas and Flin Flon.”
The group was more than ready to get on the trails and blaze across Canada to Alaska. They started their journey on Monday and are looking forward to experiencing friendly Manitoba once again.
“We’ve been raring to go and at this point, we’re super ready to go on this trip,” said Hallstrom. “We’ve been talking about it enough and we’re ready to get going.
“The last time we were in northern Manitoba was our trip to Churchill and we really enjoyed it. We went through a lot of northern communities and stopped in The Pas. Everyone was so nice to us there and when we had some minor problems on the trail, people bent over backwards to help us get going again. It was just a great experience overall and we’re hoping for that again this time.”

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