The cold snap earlier this week may have had many of us cursing the onset of winter, but avid snowmobilers still haven’t seen enough of the cold and snow for their liking.
“It has been a terrible start to the season and we are not too impressed with Mother Nature right now but she can still make up for it,” said Graham Snyder, governor for District 5 of the Ontario Federation of Snowmobile Clubs and trail groomer for the Golden Triangle Snowmobile Association.
The association is made of 12 snowmobile clubs in the area that maintain 500 kilometres of trails from Elmira to Wellesley, Cambridge and Stratford. None of those trails have been open this season because there isn’t enough snow to form a base.
Golden Triangle was formed so its clubs could band together to buy equipment and trail markers and make it easier for riders to maintain trails.
Snowmobilers interested in running through the white powder should be heading towards the Kapuskasing area, said Snyder, adding that groomers are working on trails in Barrie but they have not officially opened their trails just yet.
“We will need a good six inches to get running down here,” said Snyder. “It has to be really good snow, we could get a foot of fluffy snow but we would not be able to make a trial out of it where as six inches of packing snow would make a great trail for us.”
Snowmobilers will be hoping for a few good weeks of snow cover to make up for last year’s short season. Despite the wintry weather since Christmas, there hasn’t been enough accumulated snow so far this year.
A typical snowmobile season lasts close to six or seven weeks; however, the last two years have not been very nice for snowmobilers as mild spells throughout the winter months have melted snow and forced trails to close earlier than normal.
“When we have mild days in the middle of winter that last too long we basically have to start from scratch again and the last few years we have not had the snowfall to reopen some trails; those that are able to be open have to be re-groomed,” he said. “If we can get seven weeks we are very happy.”
Permit sales across the association have been steady so far this season as many riders decided to take advantage of the $50 discount when a permit was purchased before Dec. 1.
As soon as Old Man Winter makes more than a cameo appearance, the permits start flying off the shelf, said Snyder, noting groomers will be running around the clock and within 24 hours of a good snowfall, the trails will be open.
What snow we have accumulated so far in the region is expected to disappear as temperatures are expected to rise. According to Environment Canada the forecast calls for rain this weekend.
“It is too bad, because we like to have a foot or two of frost in the ground as that is better for our trails and the safety of the riders but the rains will bring out any frost that we have been able to gain over the last week,” said Snyder. “The frost is good for riders in the bush and swamp areas because if the ground is not frozen there is a danger of the machines sinking into the ground. We don’t want that, we want a safe season as we always do.”