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My sliver of hope paid off this past few days as it snowed about 6″-8″ and didn’t warm up or rain afterwards. This was the upside. The less upside was the panic of procrastination (masked publicly as superstition) of building a roller frame.

The 30 minute roller frame after completing the first pass at the trails. We’ll see how long it lasts but for now it got the season started.

There isn’t a pile of steel available for welding up a roller frame and the idea of racing the 50 miles north to the steel supply was bordering on ridiculous. Plus, the $75 in gas to make the trip is better off spent on fueling the sled. Fortunately, the cheap Yankee in me has kept a pile of 3″ PVC pipe stashed behind the barn “just in case…” Scaring up a single 90 and two 45s and thawing the glue inside the house and the roller frame began taking shape. Eventually a steel frame needs to be welded and the PVC was going to get me through the moment and most likely result in another tree contact disaster but the forecast called for 10″-14″ and not packing in 6″ lifts makes for soft and hollow trails. A piece of 3/4″ poly-pro webbing and steel ring for a hitch and load limiter and the 12/13 grooming season was underway.

So far the frame has worked despite being bounced off a few trees. The webbing did its job as a load limiter and failed several times. Each failure rendered the “hitch” a bit shorter and tying knots was a chore. Before heading out to groom the spare webbing was taken out of my pocket and left on the kitchen table figuring the frame would succumb to rapid deceleration against a tree and suffer catastrophic failure. I didn’t truly expect the webbing to fail first and do its job.

I finished the roller passes of all 10k well after the sun went down. The rolling didn’t take too long I just began as the disc of the sun was perched at the horizon planning to roll half the trails. Everything was working and the Cheshire Cat grin clouded my thinking and the entire system was rolled.

I took this with the drag attached since I rolled it in the dark. I was advised to make the bridge wide and I made it as wide as I had materials on hand. Should have gathered more. There is a foot on either side of the sled and it looks barely enough.

The bridge was actually rolled; the new sections of trail cut two summers ago (some post has photos of us pulling rocks) were rolled with the intent of being able to ski them and not make a run dodging sticks and other low snow trail crap fearing puncture wounds and just too high stump impacts as I made last season.

The roller wasn’t very free of frost and ice adhered grass and dirt from sitting for a year so a lot of snow grabbed on and the rolled trails were packed and very lumpy. The next morning the drag was pulled to level the humps and move the snow around a bit more to help make it solid and flat. It worked well to level everything and managed to snag every stick and lump of hoar frosted soil. There is barely enough snow to groom and ski.

An hour after beginning, the first groom of the season was complete and time to set first tracks. The plan was for me to have the virgin go at the trails but I was beaten to the ski by my kids. They were excited to ski and dug out their skis, boots, poles and whatever else they could find and went skiing without me. I was both bummed and thrilled with an overriding sense of pride with my children’s independence.

Found these upon my return home.

We managed to ski almost all of the trails and ran into a few neighbors who after hearing the sled, grabbed their skis and went out to get the season started.

Why is taking a photo of a skier in a well balanced position so difficult? Here we were messing around on the super wide (15′) racetrack in the field across from the house. This 350 meter loop is a great place for skier cross and simple terrain to cruise.

Tracks on the bridge. Having this connector trail is a huge improvement to the trails from both a skiing and grooming perspective. There is much better flow to everything.

Having the bridge has reduced the number of skunk stripes needed to connect the sections of trails. The road crew is pretty good about stopping the sand to accommodate the skiing as long as they are reminded. The stripes are still layed down but without the sand they are easier to build.

Actually grooming the trails points out all of the saplings and areas where summer maintenance could have been better. This past summer I was excessively apathetic and didn’t get out enough to put the trails in good shape for skiing. The next few ski events will be carrying a set of loppers to trim back branches and remove what should have been cut during the off season.

I’ve also come to realize trails should be cut much wider than originally believed. If during the build a tree location gives pause about the stay/go aspect just cut it. Mow a bit wider too. Walking and operating a rig almost fifteen feet long requiring wider radius turns are different and in time I will be able to walk and see the trails as I do from the sled. For now I’ll tag the larger trees and stuff for removal next summer. For now I’ll just groom and enjoy myself.

6 Responses to “Yipee! We’re Grooming and Skiing.”

  1. Ari Says:

    Hi CG

    Would you be interested in having your trail listed on It would be a good way for you (and others) to post grooming reports, although it would be more public than here and I’m not sure if your trails are open to the public for skiing (liability and/or not wanting too many people on them).

    Thx, Ari

  2. Kevin Brooker Says:

    Hi Ari,
    Thanks for the offer but I must respectfully decline. The trails are located on the properties of five different landowners and they were pretty adamant about keeping the use in the local community. Many of the trails pass pretty close to homes and there is no decent parking areas except for driveways. People do find and ski the trails as it is and a public forum might suddenly have many people on the trails and the landowners might rescind the permission we have to groom and ski.

    I did check out the website and love the idea of skier snow/condition reports.

  3. Tim Kelley Says:

    CG Kevin – great to see you have … SNOW!! An easy way to take “balanced photos” of skiers is to take a short video (assuming your camera has a video mode) and then using video editng software pull out a frame from the video that looks good. You can also use free PrintKey to to grab stills from a video. Hope you have a lot of grooming ahead this year to make up for last year. Cheers!

  4. Kevin Brooker Says:

    Tim, thanks for the tip on using the video mode as an auto winder. I’ll give it a try this weekend and see if I can snag a decent shot of someone skiing. If I am able to take something decent I’ll post it. Be well, Kevin

  5. David Wing Says:

    Kevin, I groom a small trail locally and would love to have a roller to grab the first storms and try and get more on snow/on skis days for us. Could you post a more explicit summary of how you built the roller?

  6. Kevin Brooker Says:

    Here is a link to a 2011 post about building the roller. . Soon I need to head to the DMV to renew my CDL and the steel supply is in the same town. I plan on purchasing the materials to build a new roller frame and will document the build. The axle on my roller is a section of 1″ conduit and the bearings are pieces of plastic decking (Trex) bolted to the support frame inside the culvert. The current PVC frame has a 1″ hole in the sidearms and a 1/4″ bolt is just a peg keeping the axle in place. A friend built a roller by stuffing two ATV wheels inside his culvert and inflating the tires. Added weight and keeps the snow out. There are a few build threads on this forum . Visiting the YTS and Tidd websites there are quite a few pictures of the commercial grade rollers. A roller is key to extending the skiing and preserving the available snow.