Not your typical trip

LAKE CITY — The trip was planned around the snowiest conditions of the winter. That's what four local men have told their significant others, anyway.

Three Lake City men and another from Millville will depart on a seven-day, 1,200-mile snowmobile trip at sunrise this Sunday. On Valentine's Day.

"I think we have their blessings," said John Dose, the mastermind behind the ambitious expedition. "They might even be looking forward to having us gone for awhile."

The four members of Lake City's Cliff & Coulee Climbers Snowmobile Club will celebrate the holiday a day early with their women before leaving on the 54th birthday of Dwaine Sexton, a Millville dairy farmer. Sexton, who is the youngest of the four adventurers, has made arrangements with his wife to celebrate Valentine's Day Saturday night at their church.

Lake City's Al Sprick and Jeff Holmstadt have made similar plans, while Dose backpedaled into his.


"Actually, he didn't discuss (the departure date) with me at all," said Sue Engen, Dose's partner.

The adventure will start in Lake City and end in Copper Harbor, Mich. The crew will travel nearly 200 miles a day with overnight stops made in Birchwood, Wis. and then three spots in Michigan — Watersmeet, Copper Harbor and Twin Lakes. They will sleep at a friend's cabin, a casino, a rented cottage and a motel.

The return route, which is expected to hit 700 miles, will run through the Porcupine Mountains along Lake Superior, though sleeping arrangements have yet to be determined.

"I'm getting a little more anxious the closer it gets," Sexton said. "We're backpacking it, so you're going the whole time. You're destination to destination and just hoping you don't break down."

"The nice thing about this tour is every day is new scenery," added Dose.

Another member of the Cliff & Coulee Club will be on call if the group should run into trouble along the way. Advancement in technology has made such a trip safer in recent years thanks largely to GPS and expanded cell phone coverage.

Though each man has at least 30 years of snowmobile experience, Sexton, Sprick and Holmstadt remain rookies compared to Dose. He previously visited Michigan via snowmobile in 1993 and 1996. None of his old companions will join the recently retired postal worker on his longest trek yet.

"It's surprisingly easy to do," Dose said. "The trails all connect, county to county and state to state."


Dose, who helped form the Cliff & Coulee Club in 1975, is pushing himself to set a personal record in terms of riding miles this season. He traveled 4,497 miles on a snowmobile in the winter of 1996-97. With the trip to Copper Mountain as the centerpiece, he's hoping to break 5,000 miles this winter — but even that record may not stand long. With his new-found free time, Dose plans to schedule long trips with club members at least once a year. Since the ideal group consists of just four or five riders, demand may "force" him to take several trips a year.

Even — or perhaps especially — if it conflicts with a "sappy" holiday.

"Valentine's Day will have to be celebrated a day early, but the guys I've talked to are pretty excited about (the trip)," Dose said. "They think it will be a unique adventure."

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