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Under siege by snowmobilers/Woods, water & worse

January 28, 2011
By Jim Junttila

There I was, watching the State of the Union address when I heard President Obama was gonna be in Manitowoc, Wis., earlier this week, and realized it was the closest he's probably ever been to the U.P.

It made me think just how easily he could get here, a quick half-hour flight north, where he could see first hand just how porous our borders are on all sides as Air Force One swung out over Lake Superior before landing at Hancock International Airport.

With nothing but wilderness and water along our north coast, the U.P. in general and the Keweenaw in particular have the most porous northern border possible, easily penetrated by air and sea, not so much by snowmobile.

On the southern borders of Arizona and Texas down Mexico way, they've got fences, armed guards, drug-sniffing dogs and sophisticated, round-the-clock high-tech surveillance, yet illegal aliens and immigrants still come through like the Packers ran through the Bears. I just saw on Fox News where they are now chucking bundles of marijuana over the border walls with catapults. Sorry I can't be more help, they didn't say where.

You can't turn on the TV without hearing about illegal border crossings, drug-smuggling, mayhem and murder along our southern borders, but at least they don't have snowmobilers to deal with. You don't hear a peep about how porous Yooper borders are, with little to no security whatsoever. If there's a trail cam still set up after deer season, they're venison violators, not border security.

Here in the U.P., all we've got to worry about is Canadians coming across Lake Superior from the north and Wisconsin snowmobilers from the south, and the Canucks are mostly staying home and keeping to themselves these days.

We pretty much asked for it by being such a snowmobile magnet, and building our world-class trail network strategically designed to run from bar to friendly bar with the friendliest beverage prices in the league. The Keweenaw has more than 230 miles of well-groomed and patrolled snowmobile trails connecting with the expansive 2,500-mile Yooper trail network. For updated snow conditions and trail reports, visit or call 1-888-SNOWFALL for a free snowmobile trail map, or go to or

"The U.P. has one of the most porous state lines there is," said WW&W border reporter Florence Wisconsin. "Cheese-sledders cross our border all loosey-goosey and we love it. Hurley/Ironwood on the far western end is a favorite crossing; so is our southern border at Presque Isle, Land 'o Lakes, Phelps, Albin, Nelma, Niagara, Spread Eagle and every trail in between.

"We keep much closer tabs on sledheads coming across," said Canadian border reporter Sue Sainte-Marie, "although they like to run across the ice under the radar from St. Joseph Island to Drummond Island and DeTour."

"Packs of roving snowmobilers cross the line along US-2," said WW&W correspondent Mary Nisco, stationed just easta Watersmeet. "Then they head north and roam the Keweenaw, herding up at every watering hole they come to. Get 'em in any Yooper snowmobile bar and they all look alike."

"Who knows when a packa northbound sledders from Mercer or Arbor Vitae pierces the veil of the U.P around Chaney Lake somewhere southa Wakefield under the cover of darkness in the middle of nowhere in the middle of the night?"she asked. "Then they mingle undetected with Yooper snowmobilers over pizza and beer at Club 28, right smack-dab at the intersection of US 2 and M-28."

I love ice fishing Lake Gogebic by snowmobile. Whether you get on off US-2 at the south end, and start at the Root Cellar, then run the entire lake to Hoop 'n Holler, Walleye Lodge and Bergland on the north shore, or vice versa, it's a great ride. Don't miss Russ' Bait & Tackle Second Annual Ice Fishing Tournament Saturday and Sunday, call 365-5505 for info.

"Where would our economy be without snowmobilers?" asked WW&W wildlife correspondent and good will ambassador Paris Hiltunen, whom Wisconsin snowmobile clubs have on speed dial.

"It's our job to welcome them with open arms, encourage them to eat, drink and be merry, covet our women, fill our motel rooms, spend lotsa money, and show 'em a good time so they'll wanna come back for more," she added enthusiastically.

Jim can be reached 24/7/365 at



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