A fire that on Saturday damaged one of the snowmobiles ridden by "the three old guys'' attempting to reach Fairbanks, Alaska, after leaving Grand Rapids, Minn., on March 6, provided, if nothing else, a brief respite for the trio in the Arctic Circle town of Fort Yukon, Alaska.

The fire reportedly began when a machine ridden by one of the men — Paul Dick, 72, Rob Hallstrom, 65, and Rex Hibbert, 70 — caught fire Saturday, perhaps because of a broken fuel line, about 95 miles east of Fort Yukon.

Abandoning the sled, the adventurers continued to Fort Yukon on two machines, arriving after dark Saturday.

Greeted by local residents with a hot meal of moose stew, the men checked into the Snowdrift Bed & Breakfast in Fort Yukon.

On Easter Sunday, Dick, Hallstrom and Hibbert assessed their travel options while enjoying the hospitality of Fort Yukon, a community of about 600 mostly Gwich'in Alaska Natives that straddles the Arctic Circle.

"I think they were happy to get a shower,'' said Virginia (Ginny) Alexander, owner of the bed and breakfast.

The damaged snowmobile was believed to be repairable if the three men — Dick is from Grand Rapids, Minn., Hallstrom is from Park Rapids, Minn., and Hibbert is from Soda Springs, Idaho — could get the sled to Fort Yukon.

Two local men, Derek Carroll and Wade Fields, both 35 years old, agreed to retrieve the machine on Monday. Riding a 900cc Ski-Doo snowmobile, Carroll pulled the same 12-foot toboggan-sled he uses in winter to travel from Fort Yukon to Circle, Alaska, a distance of about 80 miles.

"We keep our trucks in Circle, and because the price of everything in Fort Yukon is so high, we ride our snowmobiles to Circle, then drive our trucks to Fairbanks to shop,'' Carroll said by telephone from Fort Yukon. "When I return to Circle I load the supplies on my toboggan, and if everything goes OK it's four hours from Circle to Fort Yukon by snowmobile. But the other day it took 12 hours because my friend's snowmobile had trouble.''

In summer, Alaskans make the same Fort Yukon-to-Circle round trip by boat on the 2,000-mile-long Yukon River, Alaska's largest waterway.

Meanwhile, 95 miles separated Fort Yukon from the fire-stricken sled, Carroll said. Upon reaching the machine, he and Fields loaded it on its side on Carroll's toboggan and strapped it down.

The two men arrived in Fort Yukon with the damaged snowmobile about 10 p.m. Monday night.

While Carroll and Fields were gone, Dick, Hallstrom and Hibbert napped, according to a Facebook page chronicling the adventure maintained by Hallstrom's daughter, Kasie Plekkenpol, of the Twin Cities. Their intent, Plekkenpol said, was to be rested so they could work late into the night if necessary to repair the sled.

Alexander, owner of Snowdrift Bed & Breakfast, said Dick, Hallstrom and Hibbert appeared "in excellent condition.''

"As far as I know, (physically) they have no problems whatsoever,'' she said.

That's accurate as far as she knows, Plekkenpol said, though she added that her dad, Hallstrom, has lost an estimated 20 pounds and Hibbert has shed 30 during their trip.

Adept at snowmobile repair, the three men patched up the damaged sled inside a Fort Yukon building.

"The guys reported they 'made a fuel line from copper tubing and a throttle return spring from elastic rope.' '' Plekkenpol said on Facebook.

The three snowmobilers were ready to travel again by mid-morning Tuesday. The day's destination would be Circle, a village of fewer than 50 people, according to online census reports. To reach that settlement, the men planned to follow the Yukon River, which splashes onto the Arctic landscape as a maze of tributaries and offshoots.

"The first half of the trip to Circle it is pretty rough,'' Carroll said.

Following the travelers via two GPS locators attached to their machines, Plekkenpol said they reached Circle about 8:30 p.m Tuesday night Minneapolis time, or 5:30 p.m. in Alaska.

The three snowmobilers could have departed Fort Yukon earlier Tuesday, Alexander said, "but they had to wait for the gas station to open.'' Gas sells for about $9.50 a gallon in Fort Yukon.

Carroll said the three men should be able to run about half the 162-mile distance from Circle to Fairbanks on the Steese Highway. The remainder might have to be run alongside that road, or near it, he said.

Riding three Arctic Cat 8000X snowmobiles, the men will encounter at least three high mountain passes en route to Fairbanks from Circle, with Eagle Summit the tallest at 3,652 feet.

The route is known to be extremely windy, Carroll said.

"It takes (the government) a while to grade it,'' he said. "It could be drifted over.''

On Facebook, Plekkenpol said she hopes the men arrive in Fairbanks Thursday, the 39th day after they left Grand Rapids. So far, they've traveled more than 5,000 miles.