While most Ontarians turn up their collars, hunch their shoulders and pray for a mild winter, snowmobilers are hoping we haven’t seen the end of snow this season.
“For us, winter hasn’t started yet,” said Graham Snyder, grooming chair for the Golden Triangle Snowmobile Association.
Golden Triangle is an association of 12 snowmobile clubs that maintains 500 kilometres of trails from Cambridge, Ariss and Elmira to Wellesley and Stratford and points in between. None of those trails have been open this season because there isn’t enough snow to form a base.
“We’ve got a lot of areas where there’s a lot of snow, but as soon as you get to crossing a big open field, there’s no snow on it because the wind’s blown it away,” Snyder said. “A nice dump of six inches of snow and we’d be in business no time.”
Golden Triangle was formed so its clubs could band together to buy equipment and trail markers. Its fleet of groomers expanded from four to five this year, with the purchase of a groomer custom-built by Stoltz Sales and Service and AMI Attachments.
The association was hoping to be able to put its new groomer straight to work this week, but with warmer temperatures and no snow in the forecast, it seems the machine will be idling a bit longer.
Snowmobilers are hoping for a few good weeks of snow cover to make up for last year’s short season. Although winter started early and seemed to hang around for a long time, there was very little snowfall after January.
“Usually we can count on approximately six or seven weeks of good snowmobiling weather,” Snyder said. “Last year we barely got three weeks.”
Permit sales across the association are down 25 per cent this year, partly because riders are waiting for the trails to open to buy a permit.
Snyder is also the governor for District 5 of the Ontario Federation of Snowmobile Clubs and said sales of trail permits are down across the province by the same percentage.
“We usually sell about 8,000 permits through province. We’re hoping to get there yet and it’s a realistic goal, but we need the trails to get open and then they sell themselves.”
The federation encourages riders to buy permits and use the trails, rather than other landowners’ properties.
As soon as Old Man Winter makes more than a cameo appearance, the groomers will be running around the clock. Within 24 hours of a good snowfall, the trails will be open, Snyder said.
“We’re as eager to get them open as the riders.”