January Thaw Blues

Come on – we all knew it was coming, and what better time than right after an arctic blast?

The 2014-15 snowmobile season is similar in many ways to last year. Significant snow too early, then a warm up then the deep chill then a warm up, and on and on and on. If we look at last year, the January rain turned out to be a minor inconvenience thanks to a granite-like base that kept the copious snowfall in late January and February. The net result was a near perfect season with some of the best riding many of us had seen in years.

This is thanks in no small way to the skill and dedication of Maine’s trail groomers who make it their business to keep our state the premiere sledding destination in the Northeast. While you’re taking a brief break from your winter fun, read the BDN’s Julia Bayly’s great piece on clubs and groomers and the work they do for you. They deserve the support of everyone who rides, yet the poll question with the article indicates at this writing that only a third of riders belong to clubs. Based on our experience at the MSA, that sounds about right, and of those third there’s maybe 10% that actually groom and maintain the trails. That’s not too many people sharing in a whole lot of work. Think about chipping in by at the very least joining the club where you live or ride.

Once you’re on board, you may even get the itch to try a little trail work. There’s more than a few folks out there their mission in life. Groomers are without fail a great bunch for folks, and for them nothing is better than poking along in a groomer at 5 MPH in the middle of the night making things all nice and smooth for you. Here’s an example of what they’re like:

In the late 1990’s Arctic Cat used to sponsor a Groomer of the Year award to honor the three top groomers in the country for their thankless job. Maine groomers by the way won every year the program was in existence. Anyway, the very first Arctic Cat Groomer of the Year was Louis Hoxie of Medway, the long-time trailmaster of the East Branch Sno-Rovers. Part of the prize was the use of an Arctic Cat sled of their choice for a year. With all of the great models he could have gone with, Louis not surprisingly chose a workhorse Bearcat. The big surprise was when Louis turned in the sled at the end of the year – it only had about 20 miles on it. Louis of course had spent his winter in the Tucker Sno-Cat. That’s what Maine groomers are like.

So, don’t fret, keep checking the MSA’s trail conditions report and the NOAA snow depth map. Better days are coming, and there’s a lot of winter left. See you on the trails.