While some people are quite happy with the fact that they haven't had to shovel in a couple of weeks, others are still singing the popular Christmas tune Let it Snow Let it Snow Let it Snow. Many in the latter group are owners of snowmobiles who like to get out as much as possible in the winter months.
Doug Atchison is in his first year as president with the local group Club Snow, a group of sled enthusiasts who volunteer their time to maintain hundreds of kilometres of trails in our area. Atchison says the season started with some promise as December saw a fair amount of snow in the first half of the month. Although a smaller amount did fall in the back half of the month, some of the windy days blew the snow away from the open areas.
"We were hoping for a larger amount as the farmers Almanac was telling us there may be a tremendous amount this season. Hopefully that does come true, but at this point, because of the winds and that little bit of rain around Christmas, it has been very detrimental in the fields and open areas. A lot of places have actually blown to back to the dirt. So it's been a difficult thing to find the snow areas for the groomer to go out on."
Atchison adds it's not all gloom as there are some trails that are open in the area.
"The trail that loops around Portage and goes north to the Flea Island cabin will be marked as open as of today. It's a complete loop from the Flea Island cabin down to Portage and back out from the18th Street Road. Our groomers are heading over to Treherne now and we'll complete all of our South Loops sometime in the next couple of days. It's really weather dependent."
Safety on the trails is always a concern and Atchison says that's always top of mind for the club.
"The biggest caution is marshes, swamps and water systems. We do not have enough ice in a lot of places to run our groomers, so certainly you want to be very careful. We also have about a dozen guys that are very active on the trails, putting up all the signs and markers. This year in particular, because of the lack of snow, we've had to put out a tremendous amount of caution signs at road approaches and culverts. I would prefer to see people on the groomed trails rather than the field, because you're going to hit clumps of dirt and you may hit culverts. There's all kinds of obstructions out there."
Like any given year, there are some parts of the province that have received more snow and many of the trails are open. Atchison says the Turtle Mountain region in the southwest corner is one of those spots. A little further away near Roblin, Russell and Swan River a large amount of snow has already fallen and all trails are open there. Atchison reminds riders if they are getting out on the trails, no matter where you are in the province, to make sure you have your Manitoba Snow pass which is available at all Autopac locations.
The group was also very appreciative of a recent donation from the Oakville Lions Club. That group donated a sleigh, barrel and numerous signs that will be used to help mark the trails.