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North (From) Dakota To Alaska

The ride of a lifetime

Published online: Mar 23, 2007 Feature
(ED-More than a year ago, David Sebelius contacted us to tell us about a trip he was going to take with his riding buddies. Every sledder takes trips during the season to go riding, but this one involved his little band of riding friends from North Dakota. They had decided they were going to ride in Alaska-the trip of a lifetime. Sebelius drives truck for an Alaska company, Minn-Alaska, owned by Gary Dumdei. Sebelius offered us a recap of the trip, which follows. He is already working on another tour to Alaska. For more information, log on to www.davidsperformanceshop.com.)

A group from North Dakota, who has been snowmobiling together for years in Minnesota, North Dakota, Montana, Wyoming and British Columbia, got the chance of a lifetime to go snowmobiling in Alaska in March, 2005.
One of the riders, David Sebelius of Leeds, ND, drives a semi-truck for Minn-Alaska Transport out of Palmer, AK, under the ownership of Gary Dumdei. Sebelius asked his boss if he could bring up a few of his friends to go riding in Alaska. A group of nine ended up going, with the riders coming from various North Dakota and Minnesota towns, including Leeds, Maddock and Devils Lake, ND, and Greenbush, MN.
Sebelius loaded the boys up at Maddock, loading their sleds and gear on top of barrels that were already loaded in the van. The guys, except for one, flew out of Devils Lake, ND, to Anchorage, AK. The one, Howard Oakland, wanted to make the trip in the semi with Sebelius to say he traveled the Alcan Road.
Sebelius had to go to Fairbanks first to unload the barrels, so he and Oakland had a little time to kill before the others arrived. It's pretty obvious what they did-unloaded their sleds and went riding. They rode near Denali National Park and were guided by Greg Schaffer and his son. After riding, Sebelius and Oakland loaded up and headed for Palmer. Then Dumdei and Sebelius went to Anchorage to meet the rest of the riding group at the airport. From there, they went to Glennallen to spend the night.

Not So Good
On their first day of riding, the group went north of Thompson Pass where the conditions weren't the best. It was foggy, the snow was drifting and visibility was poor. The group decided to head back to the lodge at Glennallen. The next morning they headed for Summit Lake. The semi was parked in the Arctic Man lot and the group rode to Paxson. It was 30 degrees F, snowy and overcast and difficult to see. On the third day they went back to Summit Lake and on this day the weather was cooperating-sunny and 38 degrees F-a perfect day for riding. They rode to the Summit Tit, (elevation 5,323 feet), the starting spot for the Arctic Man snowmachine/skiing race. The group spent the day there, playing in the endless playground of snow and taking in the beautiful scenery. Then they returned to Paxson to relax and plan their ride for the next day.
On the fourth day they rode the Denali Hwy. from Paxson to Maclaren River Lodge. The sun was shining and the temp was 22 degrees F, but it was cold and windy. They went riding to the base of the Maclaren Glacier, which is absolutely breathtaking. They all burned a lot of film there, taking some beautiful pictures. After a day of riding they returned to Maclaren River Lodge, where they were served an excellent meal, prepared by Alan and Susie, the lodge owners. Later they just enjoyed the atmosphere of the lodge bar and reminisced over the events. Each of the group's riders had much to talk about as the Alaska adventure continued to unfold.
The fifth day proved to be an excellent day for riding-25 degrees F, partly cloudy, no wind and lots of powdery snow. Alan accompanied the group on the ride and showed them some excellent riding areas. They returned to Maclaren Glacier and took more pictures, including a group shot.
After a gorgeous day of riding, they packed up and headed back to Paxson where they spent the night. The next morning after breakfast they loaded up their gear and sleds in the van. It was time to head home. The days went too fast and they never did see much wildlife.

Time To Go Home
Sebelius and Oakland took off in the semi to head back to North Dakota while the rest of the guys headed for Anchorage to spend the night and get a little rest and relaxation. They also did some sightseeing, shopping and experienced Anchorage's night life.
Sebelius and Oakland didn't exactly drive straight home to North Dakota, though. They unloaded at Iron Creek Lodge in Yukon Territory, Canada and did a little riding.
The guys' overall view of their trip? You could never find any better riding than Alaska. They found out the weather can be a big factor and change quickly. However, they all decided this was an experience of a lifetime and they would love to return.
One member of the group's riding entourage, Kenny Hellerud, was unable to make the trip and really missed out. Hellerud was responsible for getting this group together to go riding in Cooke City, MT, which has become a yearly tradition now.