This last weekend a couple of us were riding up the CJ Ramstad North Shore Trail. Our plan was to meet up with some friends near Finland, Minnesota. We rode our sleds from just North of Duluth, Minnesota all the way North of Finland. It turned out to be a longer trip than we anticipated, but the trails were in good shape and it was a beautiful day.

We turned off the North Shore Trail onto the Tomahawk Trail to make our way towards the Trestle Inn. That's where we were going to meet our friends who were staying at cabins nearby ice fishing.

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Google Maps
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The Tomahawk trail was in rough shape, having been used quite a bit recently. There was plenty of snow, it just needed a grooming after a weekend of heavy use. About a mile away from the Trestle Inn, we saw a plume of black smoke on the horizon. We honestly thought at first that the bar might have been burning down. As we got closer we saw the ball of fire on the side of the trail. A snowmobile had caught fire and it was way beyond being extinguished. There was a group of guys standing nearby watching it burn down.

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I wish I had time to take a quick video or photo but we were on the trail and needed to keep moving to keep it as clear as possible. I felt bad for the guy. If you've ever owned a snowmobile, you know how frustrating break downs and repairs can be. But to have your sled just literally melt on the side of the trail? That's rough.

Ken Hayes
Ken Hayes
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We made it to the Trestle Inn, finally after about 3 hours of non stop riding. We got a table and ordered some food. About a half an hour later that group we saw with the burning sled came in. The guy who's sled burned down shouted to the bar saying he was buying a round for the whole bar. The bar cheered. We all got our shot and he stood up and gave a eulogy to his snowmobile. He talked about how many times it had brought him here, how it was a good sled, and lastly how it kept them warm right to the end.

I gotta say, that guy handled this bad luck with grace. We chatted with some members of his group. The sled hadn't been running right and he was trying to limp it back to the Trestle Inn when it went up in flames. In case anyone was wondering what brand it was, it  was about a 10 year old Polaris Switchback. The fact that he bought the bar a round and was able to laugh it off is quite impressive.

Ken Hayes
Ken Hayes
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We left the Trestle to make our long way back home. We drove by the ruins. It was something to see, nothing left but some metal parts, melted through the trail and now sitting on grass. They put some branches up as markers on the trail so people wouldn't run into it. They were heading back to clean it up after it cooled down. It was still smoldering when we passed it by.

It wasn't the only breakdown we ran into on the North Shore on Sunday. An ATV with snow tracks broke down and blocked the trail at a section which caused quite a bit of a back up. (I don't think they are legally even supposed to be on the trail.) A few other sleds were broke down too.

For us though, we made it without issue. That in itself is a good day on the trail.

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