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Winter ’Wheeling in Michigan’s Backcountry - SnoFari

Posted in Events on May 13, 2014
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On the snow-covered ORV trails near West Branch, Michigan, the Soldiers of Fortune Offroad (SoFO) Club plays host to an annual event that’s appropriately dubbed SnoFari. With a name paying tribute to the A-Team, SoFO was founded with the mission to organize fun trail rides and periodic trail cleanups around its community. Over the years, the events grew. What started as a mid-winter trail ride among friends has evolved into an extremely popular ’wheeling event. Now, in its eighth year, SnoFari is quickly becoming a winter staple among ’wheelers from the Great Lakes region and beyond.

This family friendly affair is organized SnoFari into two days—and one night—of guided trail rides on the state-owned ORV trails of Ogemaw County. With thousands of acres and countless trails at their disposal, we decided to head out and join the group for fun in the snow. This winter has been particularly frigid around the country, and the late-January event in northern Michigan welcomed us with single-digit temps, gusty winds, and sporadic snowfall. Groups set out after a morning drivers’ meeting to enjoy a full day of trail riding. Many of the trails were untouched snow, so heavier and more powerful rigs led the way to break through the fresh snowpack.

Daystar made the long haul from Arizona for a taste of the white stuff. The company’s 5.7L Hemi-powered JK sports Currie RockJock 60s, 5.13 gears, and a set of Mattracks for good measure. With a heavy right foot, this JK was nearly unstoppable.

’Wheeling in snow may look like an easy experience, but the deep snow adds strain on drivetrain components. We were prepared to see a fair share of carnage out on the trail, but were surprised to hear the official damage report: a blown engine, two dead transmissions, and a broken transfer case. These types of failures can turn a fun trail day into a nightmare. Luckily, everyone that ’wheeled at this year’s SnoFari was in good spirits and worked together on extraction and repair efforts.

Come late afternoon, the weary and weathered groups began returning from their excursions. By the time dinner rolled around, everyone had a chance to thaw out, tell a few stories, and head into the SoFO banquet for a well-deserved meal, SoFO awards, and raffle prizes. All funds raised at the event go toward future club outings and donations to the Great Lakes Four Wheel Drive Association.

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