Most people would think that burying their car hood-deep in a mud puddle is a bad thing, but the members of the Trail Cats think it’s one of the best parts of a Saturday afternoon.
On Saturday April 18, the NMU Trail Cats – a student organization dedicated to off-road four wheeling – will host their Spring Opener trail ride.
Club President Tony Histed said the opening ride should be a great event.
“A group of us went out last weekend and the trails were pretty good,” he said. “It should be a great time.”
The Trail Cats were formed more than eight years ago as a way for students to share their interest of four-wheeling with each other. Histed said the group’s founders had a set idea of the goals they wanted to promote.
“The goal was to enjoy the outdoors and allow people to further their knowledge of four-wheel trucks and the sport of four-wheeling,” he said.
Histed said he is aware that many people see the group – and the sport of four-wheeling – as destructive and damaging to the environment. He said he feels that that stereotype is far from the truth.
“We’re all outdoorsmen. We’re all hunters and fishermen,” Histed said. “It isn’t our goal to destroy nature.”
To accomplish this goal, the club takes several steps.
“What we do to minimize the impact on the environment is always ride the same trails every time we go out,” Histed said. “It’s better if we stay on the same path, rather than just drive randomly through the trees tearing stuff up.”
In addition, the group regularly holds trail clean ups to pick up litter on the trails where they frequently ride.
Another myth that Histed said the group has tried to clear up in recent years is that they are just a bunch of jerks.
“For some reason, people have gotten this idea that we are a bunch of assholes. They see us giving each other crap and joking around, and just assume we aren’t nice to each other,” he said. “Once they get to know us, they find out we’re a really great bunch of guys.”
Freshman Nate Foster confirmed Histed’s words.
“It’s great,” he said. “It’s a ton of fun just going out and wheeling.”
In addition to going on rides, the group also acts as a social club for its members. Club members frequently gather to work on their trucks and share knowledge of the sport. Histed said people thinking about joining shouldn’t let this discourage them.
“You don’t have to have any knowledge about trucks at all,” Histed said. “We’ll teach you everything you need to know, and if we don’t know how to do it, we have a bunch of older guys we can call up who can fix almost anything.”
According to Histed, knowing how to fix a truck can come in handy.
“We had three vehicles die when we went out last weekend,” he said. “I wasn’t surprised. If things are going to go wrong, it’s usually going to happen when you are trying new things out.”
Students wishing to take part in rides with the Trail Cats need to have a truck equipped with four-wheel drive, as well as both front and rear tow points. Histed said people who own stock models are allowed on many Trail Cat rides. A stock truck is an unmodified truck.
“We go on stocker runs and just about anyone can come on those,” he said. “Also, in some places there are cheater trails where guys with better trucks can go through a mud puddle, but guys with smaller trucks can go around.”
Students interested in joining the Trail Cats or attending the Spring Opener should e-mail Tony Histed at [email protected]