Going SnoBlind In Michigan
Winter trail rides are all the rage in snowy northern states, and one of the oldest and most popular is the SnoBlind Expedition in West Branch, Michigan. Held in early February, this event routinely fills on the first day of open registration (November 5), and it draws participants from all over the U.S. and Canada. Most of the trails used for the event are unplowed logging roads located in and around the expansive and hilly AuSable National Forest, and these snow-covered trails offer challenges for skill levels from novice to pro.
Part of SnoBlind's extraordinary success is due to the attention to detail and excellent organization of the event's organizer, the Mud-Chuggers 4-Wheel Drive Club. The club bases the event out of the West Branch Quality Inn complex, where food, supplies, registration and the included Saturday banquet are all conveniently located under one roof. The Mud-Chuggers work closely with the Ogemaw County Sheriff's Department and the National Forest Service to ensure that all permits are in order and everything runs smoothly. The big Saturday evening banquet features a huge raffle, and this year prizes included a winch donated by Warn Industries as well as loads of cool stuff from event sponsors like 4 Wheel Drive Diversified from Maumee, Ohio, and Mumbly's Off Road in Clinton Township, Michigan.
The SnoBlind Expedition offers the unique opportunity to hone your winter driving skills while enjoying the benefits of a well-organized trail ride in a beautiful location. It's no wonder SnoBlind quickly fills to its capacity of 120 vehicles every year. SnoBlind 2003 is slated for February 14-16. For information you can contact the Mud-Chuggers 4-Wheel Drive Club, Dept. FW, P.O. Box 300391, Waterford, MI, 48330 or visit www.mudchuggers.org.
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Trail rides left daily from the event headquarters at the West Branch Quality Inn. Each group was capped fore and aft by event leaders, and they were very familiar with the AuSable National Forest trail system. Saturday morning's trail lineup was greeted with leaden skies and colder temperatures than the previous day, as well as a light dusting of snow. Previous years have featured everything from 4 feet of snow to below-zero daily high temperatures.
Seventeen-year-old Andrew Best from Waterford, Michigan began 'wheeling with his parents when he was two years old, and as time progressed his dream was to own an old Willys. When he was 13, that dream was realized when he purchased this '52 CJ-3A with money earned from mowing lawns after school. Andrew and his dad spent the next six months restoring the Jeep, and it now sports a rear Lock-Right locker, a custom spare tire/fuel rack, a Warn 8274 winch, a Kayline soft top, a 6V/12V electrical system, a rollbar and three-point seatbelts. Other components include a Go Devil four-cylinder engine, a T90 three-speed transmission, a Spicer 18 transfer case, a front Dana 25, a rear Dana 44, stock springs and 7.00-16 military tires.