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Archive for April, 2013

Better than Expected

Thursday, April 25th, 2013

It’s April 25th and the last bit of snow has melted off the trails. Skiing has been finished for almost three weeks and looking back the season was pretty good.

Grooming began on December 27, a bit later than we had hoped for but the at home ski season had started. The biggest snowfall, a whopping eight inches, was in March and fell after the equipment had been put away. Of course it was taken out of hibernation and some of the best grooming of the season was during this six day re-immersion into winter.

High winds at the end of the season left a few widow-makers across the trails. In addition to grooming, trail maintenance requires a bit of tree work too. This hanger is hemlock and not too far from the house and will become firewood for next season.

Snowfall total for the season was just shy of forty inches. Even with all of the snowfall, not much accumulated and the good race skis remained in the bag for the second straight season. They still have the storage wax applied after the 10-11 season.

At best. portions of the trails had a base of eight to twelve inches of compacted snow. On average the trails held around six inches. Compared to last season, this year had very little mid-winter rain to transform the snow into ice. The impediments to deep snowpack this season were the long stretches of sunny weather and lack of refreshing snows. Most of the base sublimated away exposing the rocks, sticks and uneven surface pushed up by the hoarfrosts of early December.

The kids heading to catch the bus. The trails run along the road and it was a nice sendoff having the children pelt me with snowballs as I rolled some of the fresh mid-January snow which arrived in late March.

The sled consumed $75.00 worth of gasoline and ate one $85.00 belt. Time spent on the sled grooming was about fifteen hours. All in all pretty inexpensive in cash and time. Add in the convenience and decadence of ski trails twenty feet from the door and the value is huge. This season I managed an almost 3:1, ski:groom ratio which is most likely contributed to the infrequent snows. Most grooming passes were made with the bedspring and just broke the glazing of the trail surface. The Tidd was used three times mostly to wear off some of the surface rust.

Despite the illusion of a deep snowpack, the Tidd is riding just a few inches above the tree roots and a few rocks which the teeth soon found.

I did manage to break the shear pin on the Tidd’s hitch. The teeth hit a root and stopped the groomer while the sled and I kept going. Never having broken the pin (just an 8D box nail) there was not a replacement anywhere on the sled. There was a length of webbing under the seat so I lashed the equipment back together and finished laying down some really nice skate lanes.

This summer I have access to an excavator and plan on fixing up some of the trails. Moving rocks with levers and pulleys is actually really fun but diesel powered hydraulics are much faster and safer too. There are a few widow-makers to clear up and maybe a few more trails to cut in. I’m also on the lookout for a better pulling machine but first have to find some cash.

Thanks to you fellow CGers who sent in photos of your rigs. Here are two and the photo captions will describe what we have out there.

Steve in MN sent me this photo of his newly restored 1974 Cushman Trackster pulling his 6′ Tidd.

Kurt from Canada sent a few shots of his homegrown leveler and packer.

Kurt’s rig packs the trails and moves firewood too. Re-purposing a metal culvert is really great.

Kurt’s rig is an ATV on tracks. Looks like deeper snow up north of the border than we had here in VT.

Thanks for sending the photos and anyone else out there who wants to share the fun, send me some pics. to post over the no-snow season of Citizen Groomery.

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