The evolution of Arctic Man

by • March 4, 2016 • Highlights, UncategorizedComments (0)260

Kevin Hite

Kevin Hite

 

This is always my favorite time of the year. Springtime means a lot of things to lots of people. For us, spring means more sunshine, warmer temperatures, longer rides and of course, our annual Arctic Man trip to the Hoodoos.

The planning for Arctic Man begins with the annual note from Howard Thies asking if we want our normal spots for the Hillbilly Compound. The minute that note hits my inbox, the planning begins. Our group ranges from six to 10 participants who have been honed into an incredibly well-oiled machine.

Wait a minute, I just spit coffee out my nose. To be honest, until the wives began coming along a few years ago, most of the planning concerned who was bringing the frozen burritos and who was bringing which libations. With the advent of the coed era, there is actually planning. There will still be a big focus on food and liquor, including joint meal cooking and Bloody Mary Wednesday. The girls will make sure we actually have keys to the snowmobiles, the duck fart kit will have replenishments and we will have more than one change of socks.

The difference in Arctic Man’s evolution from a hedonistic four days of partying into the current version that includes avalanche and backcountry training, and custom events from different vendors has  been fun to experience. This evolution has made it perfectly reasonable to take your whole family. There are still knuckleheads who periodically disrupt the event, but they are becoming fewer and fewer. The vast majority of attendees appreciate the generally outstanding snow conditions and utilize this as the season-ending cherry on top of our season.

Look for us on the second row near the end of the lot, near Racer’s Row. Come by and say hi. Depending on what libation day it is, it may be possible to see Cindy try out a unicycle. She still does her own stunts.
Now, for something completely different: While forward-thinking folks are polishing up boats and planning what they want their gardens and flowerbeds to look like in a few weeks (I know, weird huh?), our spring is completely filled with late-season freight runs on the river, propane supplies being sent up and down river to bridge over the shoulder season and the resupply of the community of river folks who don’t have a street address. This time of year is critical to get enough supplies in and stock rooms to the point that once the ice is too rotten to travel on, they have enough food and fuel to last until the riverboats are able to run. This is a part of the snowmobile culture that escapes the attention of most recreational riders, but makes up a critical part of snowmobiling in Alaska. Recently the big four manufacturers commissioned a study asking for input on utility machines. Several of the freighters in our area supplied a ton of information on the useage and features of heavy duty hauling snowmobiles.

As new business owners, Cindy and I are beginning to grasp the rhythms of the seasonal requirements of our customers, many of whom are becoming part of our extended family. We strive to become the hub of this group of lodges, river residents, recreationists, freight haulers and weekend residents. To be successful, you have to do a little bit of everything. So to this point, we have a restaurant, rental cabins, a boat and snowmobile repair business, have hauled freight, dropped fishermen off for hooligan dipping, towed boats and snowmobiles, cut firewood, jumpstarted airplanes on the river well, you get the idea. All of this equals a full time workload that we gratefully accept. The locals in our area have welcomed us into their plans and have made this transition successful. I want to thank them and invite everyone out to see us. Except for Arctic Man week. You know where we will be then … but we will return soon.

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