Conservation officer helps stranded snowmobilers in northern Luce County

The fortunate availability of a cellphone early Wednesday morning provided a lifeline for two snowmobilers stranded miles away from the nearest town in Luce County.

Michigan Department of Natural Resources Conservation Officer Justin Vinson received a call from Central Dispatch at 1:30 a.m. reporting two men, approximately 65 years of age, were lost in northern Luce County.

The two snowmobilers were from Minnesota and Iowa and were not new to snowmobiling, but they were unfamiliar with the area. Their sleds had run out of gas.

With high winds, heavy rain and temperatures in the mid-30s, the two men were soaked and sought shelter in an outhouse at Holland Lake State Forest Campground, which is situated about 5 miles south of the Lake Superior shoreline and about 25 miles north of Newberry.

Officer Vinson used his DNR patrol sled to reach the stranded men at about 2:45 a.m.

“They said they had no idea where they were or where they had left their vehicle,” Vinson said.

The two men had begun their snowmobile riding at about 11 a.m. Tuesday morning, after parking their truck and trailer at the intersection of Alger County Highway 58 and the Adams Trail on the Kingston Plains, east of Munising.

“They had no real destination in mind. Their plan was to ride along the north shoreline and return to Munising,” Vinson said. “They possibly got turned around in the Trail 8, Trail 88 and Trail 89 loops found west of Grand Marais. They were found just off Trail 8.”

After providing the two men with gas for their sleds and working through some minor mechanical issues likely caused by the rain, Vinson escorted the men to the nearest park and ride lot, where his patrol truck was parked and their sleds could be left overnight.

Vinson then took the men back to their vehicle north of Shingleton, arriving at about 5:30 a.m.

The incident illustrates the importance of knowing trail and weather conditions before heading out on a snowmobile trip. The men could have benefitted from a map and a compass or a GPS unit. They used good judgment in traveling together, carrying a cellphone as a communication device, calling for help and seeking dry shelter at the campground.

Fortunately, the snowmobilers found cellphone coverage, despite being in a remote part of northern Luce County.

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