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'3 Old Guys' await clutch parts on home stretch of snowmobile trip from Minnesota to Alaska

At one point, it appeared the snowmobilers were on track to reach their destination in Fairbanks on April 6 or April 7, but that is now on hold.

3 in Tuktoyaktuk.jpg
The "3 Old Guys" — Rob Hallstrom (from left), Paul Dick and Rex Hibbert — pose in the Northwest Territories community of Tuktoyaktuk during their snowmobile ride from Grand Rapids, Minnesota, to Fairbanks, Alaska. The trio left Grand Rapids on Monday, March 6, 2023.
Contributed/3 Old Guys ride to Alaska Facebook page

The “3 Old Guys” – Rob Hallstrom, Rex Hibbert and Paul Dick – are approaching the end of their epic snowmobile ride from Grand Rapids, Minnesota, to Fairbanks, Alaska, but the final stretch of their trip is temporarily on hold as they wait for clutch parts to be flown into the remote community of Old Crow, in Canada's Yukon Territory.

According to an evening update posted April 4 on the “3 Old Guys Ride to Alaska” Facebook page, the trio of snowmobile adventurers had made it to Old Crow, which is only accessible by air.

"Upon arriving in Old Crow, they stopped at the Co-op where they understood there were a couple of rooms; they were told that no rooms were available tonight when a woman walked in and said curiously, 'are you the 3 Old Guys?'…. 'we have a cabin waiting for you'" Hallstrom's daughter, Kasie Plekkenpol, reported on the "3 Old Guys" Facebook page. "What a wonderful journey to be welcomed with such hospitality! The guys were escorted to a local’s home where they had a spare cabin with a woodstove for the guys to stay in. They spent the afternoon speaking with her husband about the trail ahead, described as '330 miles of no trail.' "

As the Facebook post indicated, the trio of snowmobilers has been having some clutch problems and have decided to stay in Old Crow until clutch parts can be flown in and repairs can be made.

"(Note – we have a plan in motion)," the Facebook post indicated.


At one point, it appeared the snowmobilers were on track to reach their destination in Fairbanks on April 6 or April 7, but that is now on hold.

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Paul Dick, Rob Hallstrom and Rex Hibbert snowmobiled from Grand Rapids, Minn., to Churchill, Manitoba, in 2019. Now, they're about to launch a 4,000-mile trek from Grand Rapids to Fairbanks, Alaska.

The trio of snowmobilers left Dick’s home in Grand Rapids on Monday, March 6 on identical Arctic Cat Norseman 8000X snowmobiles. They drove similar snowmobiles – but with 600cc engines – in March 2019 when they snowmobiled from Grand Rapids to Hudson Bay at Churchill, Manitoba, and back.

The three men are all experienced long-distance snowmobile riders and range in age from 65 to 72. Hallstrom, a retired electrician from Park Rapids, Minnesota, is originally from St. Hilaire, Minnesota. Hibbert, 70, lives in Soda Springs, Idaho, and Dick, 72, is from Grand Rapids.

As could be expected during a journey through some of the most rugged wilderness in North America, which already is estimated at between 4,500 and 5,000 "hard miles," there have been some challenges along the way and occasional repairs to tow sleds and other equipment. Hallstrom’s snowmobile even caught fire March 10, less than a week into the trip, when a stick got caught under the hood while they were breaking trail near Flin Flon, Manitoba. Fortunately, they got the fire out quickly and were able to make it back to Flin Flon for repairs.

The trio of adventurers have developed quite a following on Facebook through daily updates posted by Hallstrom’s daughter, Kasie, and his wife, MaJeana. The April 3 update garnered more than 2,000 “Likes” and more than 140 comments.

In addition, one of the regular “3 Old Guys” followers sent a note and photos sharing how third-grade students in upstate New York were tracking the snowmobile ride to learn about geography and adventure, the Facebook post indicated.

“When the 3 Old Guys were preparing for their departure, my dad, Rob, asked me to put up ‘a few’ Facebook posts while they were on their ride since they wouldn’t regularly have service,” Kasie wrote in the post. “He supplied me with 4-6 suggestions for material and even a couple pictures which we assumed would cover it.

“You see, the 3 Old Guys literally thought they were just going out for a ride … none of us, and especially them, anticipated the following that they have garnered.


“So … each day, along with many of you and the students following along, I learn about the history and the trek that the 3 Old Guys have spent years researching. I am particularly thankful for Les Oystryk, a retired Conservation Officer and Historian who supplied my dad with intel prior to departure and who has become a wealth of knowledge for my regular posts.

This journey has certainly been a fun and wild ride for us all!”

A fundraiser has been set up at buymeacoffee.com to help offset costs for food, fuel and other expenses.

Brad Dokken joined the Herald company in November 1985 as a copy editor for Agweek magazine and has been the Grand Forks Herald's outdoors editor since 1998.

Besides his role as an outdoors writer, Dokken has an extensive background in northwest Minnesota and Canadian border issues and provides occasional coverage on those topics.

Reach him at bdokken@gfherald.com, by phone at (701) 780-1148 or on Twitter at @gfhoutdoor.
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