April 4th, 2014
Since the last installment of Citizen Groomer there have been many grooming highs and quite a few times where not drenching the sled in gasoline and burning it right on the trail required great restraint. Temperatures have gone as high as the mid 40s during the day and the snow has corned up and melting. There is still anywhere from 2″-18″ on the trails and we might be skiing until mid April and I’m almost certain the grooming for the ’13-’14 season is complete.
The last post was made during a snowstorm taking place during the Olympics. Since that time we received almost 48″ of dry powdery snow. The skiing has been fantastic; the grooming less so. The dry snow and relatively lightweight equipment doesn’t pack very firm and the sled track tends to shear the surface and bury the sled. Moving slightly off the base of the trail caused the sled to roll off the firm skiable snow and into the deep powder where excavation was required.
This March was strange and cold. Many nights had low temps below zero F which had us constantly running the woodstove. We heat exclusively with wood and it became pretty obvious the winter was going to outlast the woodpile. A large 24″ poplar was dropped near the house and the roller was pressed into service to ferry the new firewood to the storage area. The wood we were burning was on the stump twelve hours prior to finding the stove but the house would be warm.
The cold temps and easily sheared snow did make for fantastic grooming conditions and we took advantage of them whenever possible. As a matter of pride, it is a goal to lay down at least one day of trails allowing ethereal skiing. Fast snow which holds together while charging through corners with the utmost confidence of remaining upright while moving at speeds the best on the World Cup would envy is the goal. The snow conditions had these conditions on several occasions and one weekend the grooming gave me a career defining system.
This season the number of skiers went up dramatically. One landowner is a summer camp and they graciously allow the trails and grooming with the condition of keeping the trails tucked away to lower the attraction of snowmobiles. This is the fourth season of CG and this is the first winter anyone from the camp came out and skied.
The first hint was discovering pulk tracks coming in from the road across the street from the camp. The clincher was seeing new faces while grooming and starting up a conversation. The skiers were ecstatic to discover the rumor of skiing was true. Knowing the trails were being used by the extended community was encouraging. After extricating the sled at least fifty times this winter it was great to know the trails were getting people outside. A game trail camera was hung with the intent of being able to count skiers. It didn’t work as well as I had hoped but the photos are pretty neat. A future post will be a photo montage of trail cam pics.
After four seasons of grooming reading the snow to obtain the best skiing is becoming easier. I feel like a groomer and much less of a hack who puts trails into recreational use.