After a long day of checkpoint cruising during the 2020 Polar Run Rally on Friday, Chris and I were ready for some back road adventures Saturday morning. The only official event was the awards ceremony Saturday night so a large group of us convened at a local coffee house and formulated a plan to hit up some logging roads between Ashland and Madeline Island. The weather was perfectly clear with only a slight wind and some wispy clouds. Perfect for a day of photographing some truly epic backroad adventures.
If you have followed Short Shift for even a little while you know that I enjoy taking rolling shots of vehicles. I was even voted “Most likely to take rollers”. Capturing a smoothed out landscape behind a sharply focused car is difficult to accurately capture, but it has been a skill I’ve spent years on improving. When we first started talking to The Polar Run family, I was pumped to finally hang out of a window and shoot rollers again!
But the one thing I forgot in my excitement was that The Polar Run Rally takes place early February in the bitter northern Midwest (Minnesota/Wisconsin). Was I going to let 40 mph winter gales stop me from taking pictures? It was a real possibility. However, with Chris’s encouragement, I was able to capture some of my best and most proud work to date. You’ll see in some of the photos that I was dealing with clouds of kicked-up snow in my face nearly the entire time! However, it definitely paints a dramatic picture.
In all of the excitement to get sweet photos, we didn’t realize that we had taken a few more breaks than anticipated. Suddenly there was only a narrow window of time for us to make the ferry to Madeline Island. It definitely was not a flat-out race to the ferry in any way, shape, or form, so I’ll just say it was a close call. Once all of our vehicles boarded ferry, some participants may have exuberantly blasted “I’m on a Boat” by The Lonely Island, because why not?
The cruise to, around, and back from Madeline Island took a couple of hours. Madeline Island is accessible by ferry, ice road (if you’re lucky), or plane. Due to a string of consistently warm days (climate change cough cough) the ferries were able to pierce a satisfying path through the layer of ice. The sights and sounds were pretty harrowing, but it was also very cool to watch giant chunks of ice fly off the bow. Then, when we reached Madeline Island, we swarmed a bar (all 25 of us), got some food, and then scattered around the island.
After a ferry ride back, a few of us decided to try our luck at a little ice racing track on Lake Superior near Ashland where the ice was about 25 inches thick. To paint the scene, the sun was beginning to set, auxiliary were engaged, tubes were inflated, and hilarity ensued. The track was plowed clear in the shape of an oval and the ice was, as you would imagine, slippery; like, zero traction. While you could attempt to guide your vehicle in the right direction, often times it did whatever the heck it wanted to do. Chris and I had joked throughout the day that, “Nature always wins,” and a track made out of ice is a good litmus test.
This too made for some hilarious photos. Ryan Rask, husband of the Rally coordinator Hayley, was along with our group of trucks. Having the SS Raptor for only a few months, I have not been able to get action shots from outside the truck yet. Thanks to Ryan, I now have them. When I told Ryan he could take the Raptor out, I told him to “SEND IT!” and he did not disappoint.
All told, it was a remarkably fun weekend. The actual Rally portion on Friday was interactive and just a dang ol’ good time. Saturday, due to the high level of camaraderie within the group, the logging roads and general adventure with new friends were equally as fun.
The Polar Run Rally family is definitely that: a family. They make you feel absolutely welcomed, no matter what you drive. We had everything from a Ford Focus ST, to an older Audi A4, Jeeps, F-J Cruisers, all the way up to two brand new Ford Raptors with tons of cool upgrades. Check out all of our coverage and seriously consider adding The Polar Run Rally to your calendar next year.