January 3rd, 2017
So far there has been more groomable snow and skiing then the entirety of last season. Since the beginning of December we have had about 12″-15″ fall which is enough to groom. Yipee! The addition of the tracked ATV has been incredible. The Grizzly has enough power to pull bigger implements and remain controllable. The acrobatics required to keep the sled moving and steering are no longer. Having used a snowmobile not intended for grooming and the ATV The difference is like using old wooden skis prepped with tar and modern boards ground and waxed for the conditions. Both will work but one set is more efficient.
Two seasons ago the wooden level drag bounced off a tree and catastrophically came apart. While made of 2x4s and some old bedframe, the thing was an awesome tool for getting the trails flat. With the acquisition of the ATV another one was a must have. My former life of self employment used a lot of PVC pipe and transporting it on the roof of the truck required a large rack which was siting around and re-purposed into the main frame of the new drag. A storm was forecast to drop 5-12″ of snow at the end of the week so I got to work cutting steel and welding. Of course things didn’t go as planned so the drag was finished during the storm and welded up beneath a pop up tent. When night came the shop light was used to illuminate what I was doing and the drag, while not finished, was usable.
The kids were all hot to go out night grooming and since there was 5″ on the ground with the potential for another 7″ overnight, we hitched up the roller to the old sled and the new drag to the ATV and went out to pack what snow we had. It was a blast going out with the 13 and 16 year olds. They do a great job and the extra set of headlights and company (we couldn’t talk but knowing they were there was great) made it fast and fun. Another 3″ fell overnight and after an early breakfast we gassed up the ATV and made another leveling pass.
The trails are now 8′-15′ wide and very nearly level. There are a few places where snow needs to be shoveled to get a billiard table likeness but for now things are really great. The kids wanted to ski and with growing feet my son used my classic boots and pair of everyday use skis. I was so confident in the coverage I grabbed a pair of good race boards, scraped off the storage wax and went out skiing.
The snow was fabulous. The surface was just soft enough to be forgiving but firm enough to keep pole baskets from pushing through. It was great to be out skiing with the family again.
Another neighbor a mile up the road had trails cut three seasons ago. I’d groom the trails which required a 1 mile road trip pulling the implements. Even on dirt road the sand ground up the steel and took a toll on the equipment. Because of the logging mentioned in the previous post the landowner separating the two trail systems was kind enough to allow us to put in a connector trail which adds just about a kilometer of beautiful scenery to the system and gets us off the road.
There are now 6 landowners giving us access and permission to run some sort of trail for the community to ski on. If you lay down a track on every bit of it you will need to ski 17 km. This includes a bit of re-skiing some trail but the system is right at the limit of grooming as a hobby.