December 8th, 2016
Almost two years to the day since the last post. Why so long you might wonder? In short, there was really nothing new to write about. 2015 was a low groom year and was very unremarkable. 2016 had almost no snow. The sled was started once and never used. The posts would have been very repetitive and depressing. Each post might have read similar to this: “No snow yet so no gooming or skiing.” It was the first winter in eight years is didn’t ski so much a a single meter on the home trails. In total I skied about 7 km in two outings about three days apart.
Fortunately, a LOT has changed.
The trail system has expanded to about 15km up from 10. A neighbor has trails installed two years ago and we’ve almost managed to connect everything without using a road. The connection should be possible due to a logging operation. More on this later.
This landowner bought a track shod Yamaha Grizzly ATV from his brother and asked if it can be used to groom. Oh hell yes it can and it will be a huge step up from flogging around on my clapped out sled. The Grizzly is reputed to be an awesome grooming tractor enabling my to pull slightly larger implements which should do a better job in less time. We’ll see but I am super enthusiastic.
Some of the property with trails has been placed in land use conservation. This is great as the parcels will never be turned into a housing development. One aspect of the easement is having a forest management plan and following it. The plan calls for some logging to remove the overgrowth, dead-fall, and trees at the end of their lifespan with the intention of keeping the forest vibrant and healthy.Almost all logging takes place during the winter months when snowfall protects the ground and there is less chance of disturbing the soil. The trees marked with blue paint are slated for cutting.
The rub is with the disturbance of the snow and skiing.
When I first heard of the logging ops, a fortunate and chance encounter with the forester brought the ski trails to his attention. The landowner had mentioned the trail system and I volunteered to help co-ordinate the logging to avoid using the ski trails as skidder roads. Armed with blue and white stripped flagging tape, we marked out both sides of the trails knowing they must be crossed but not used for removing timber. This was all done according to the instructions of the forester.
Part of the operation is building truck turn arounds and log landings to facilitate bringing the wood to the market. Some will go to hips for co-generation of electricity; some for firewood; and some will go to the mill for sawing into boards.
In the photos below, the red lines point to the aforementioned blue and white tapes marking the sides of the trails. The first photo is looking north and the second, south.
The trail has been replaced by a landing and blocked by piles of cut trees!
This was done yesterday and I was assured the trees will be cleared but the trail is gone for almost 50 meters. Had the landing been moved 20 meters to the east there would have been no interference.
Adhering to the forestry management plan is important and breaking a few eggs is a requirement for making an omelette, After seeing the landing and absolute disregard for the flagging I do hope nobody kills the chicken who lays the eggs.
My fear is not losing a ski season (playing with the new toys might not be as fun) but losing the trails. The landowners have paid a good bit of cash to put the trails in and the maintenance is all done by local and dedicated volunteers. We have enthusiasm but not much cash or repairs requiring more earth moving equipment then a shovel.
On the plus side and trying to remain positive, there is still quite a few kms of trail where no logging will be undertaken. Th logging does gut the ability to make nice loops and what remains is essentially a longish out-and-return ski.
All good stories have drama and maybe I have jumped to the pessimistic view. The logging has the potential to clear a few trees and allow more snow to reach the trails. It may open up the wood and enhance the views through the woods. It might allow us to easily connect the trail systems on the neighbors lot. Some of the work might enhance the drainage. The logging might be a rallying point for the neighborhood.
I’ll keep thinking positive thoughts and it is good to be back at the keys telling the readers about the trials, tribulations, and successes of being a citizen groomer.