Mid-Ontario Snowmobile Trails grooming co-ordinator Craig Mayhew works on a trail near Pooles Road in Springwater Township north of Barrie on Tuesday. Despite recent snow fall, sledders are reminded to check the Ontario Federation of Snowmobile Clubs website for current conditions.
Snowmobilers are hailing Mother Nature and her recent dumping of the white stuff.
But sledders shouldn’t assume heavy snowfall ensures a safe ride, according to Kevin Hagen, of the Ontario Federation of Snowmobile Clubs’ (OFSC) District 8.
It includes areas around Barrie over to Collingwood and east to Midland/Penatanguishene and around Orillia.
“It’s so unpredictable. Trail conditions vary so some are better than others. In some areas they are open and trails in other areas haven’t opened yet,” he said. “One area can be getting all kinds of snow and another area can be sunny.
“Even around the Wasaga Beach area where they got a lot of snow, the wind was so strong in the last few days some fields are bare.”
Mid-Ontario Snowmobile Trails is an association of 10 snowmobile clubs located in District 8 and includes the Barrie Snowmobile Club, Bonsecour Track & Trail, Blue Mountain Snowdrifters, Carden Sno Drifters, Georgian Bay Snowriders, Kawartha Lakes Snowmobile Club, Orillia District Snowmobile Club, Osprey Snowhawks, Sno Voyageurs Club, and the Wasaga Snowmobile Club.
The clubs groom approximately 1,000 kilometres of trails.
Hagen said only about 25% of the trails in District 8 are currently open.
“We are going to open some more today. We’re working on it as quickly as possible but everyone has to realize that trails are not open for a reason,” he said. “People have a new sled and they want to go for a ride but they don’t realize the danger they are putting themselves in.
“They also don’t realize with all the high winds we’ve had recently there are lots of trees down,” he added. “The groomers come across those and have to cut those up and move them out of the way. Sledders who are riding on these closed trails could encounter a tree right across the trail.”
They can also come across areas of water that may be hidden by accumulated snow, Hagen added.
“A lot of snowmobilers don’t really get it. They just look out and think there’s snow on the ground and they can go sledding. But that’s not really the case,” he said. “Ground holds its heat and snow insulates it.”
A water hole on a trail in the Hog Bay area between Port McNicoll and Victoria Harbour is a good example of why sledders should stick to OFSC trails that are open, information that is readily available on the federation’s website, Hagen said.
“There have been a number of sleds that have gone into this hole and they need a tow truck to get them out,” he said. “People say, ‘Why aren’t the trails open?’ Here is a prime reason why they aren’t.
“The trails are closed for a reason and there is a valid reason why the trails aren’t open. We’re not going to send the public on a trail that is dangerous.”
Not all the people ignoring ‘trail closed’ signs are from the GTA, although some of them might be, Hagen said.
“Some of them are outsiders. They don’t live in this area and get in their truck and drive to the closest trail and decide to go riding,” he said. “But even some of them that live here are doing dumb things too.
“When people stray from the trails, they don’t know what they are riding on,” he added. “We have farmers who have winter wheat planted and if you tramp that down, now you’re messing with somebody’s livelihood.
“They might tell us, ‘No, you can’t have the trail here anymore’. We’re hopeful people mind the signs and stay on the trails. Otherwise we won’t have any trails.”
To learn more about trail conditions, visit the Ontario Federation of Snowmoblie Clubs website at http://www.ofsc.on.ca.
Article source: Barrie Examiner