ESTEVAN - The weather finally took a pity on local snowmobilers, with a couple of nice snowfalls, allowing the Estevan Snowmobile Club to groom and stake some trails in the area.
Estevan Snowmobile Club president Dave Heier said they've already staked all around Estevan, as well as from Estevan to their 361 shelter, which is on Highway 361. Besides, they've set trails all the way up to Willmar, Forget and Lampman. All these trails are good to ride on, but there is still some work remaining.
"We're working on heading south to cross Rafferty and over to what we call our Lourdes Grove, that's straight south of Outram. And then we are looking at crossing the dam, then north to Macoun and back to complete trails for this year," Heier explained.
It took the groomers about 30 hours, and the volunteers put in at least 100 hours so far, staking the trails.
"People don't realize that … when the snow's like it is, it's very sugary, and it doesn't hold up, usually what the problem is, it is not enough snow to hold the stakes up. Guys are down on their hands and knees with shovels, trying to make a snow pile good enough to hold the stakes up," Heier said.
When all trails are set and done, there will be several thousand stakes up. Every year they end up buying more stakes, as about 5-10 per cent get broken or stolen, however this time, Heier said, they didn't need to buy too much.
Trails are GPSed, and all permissions required for snowmobilers to ride those paths have been acquired.
"There's a Polaris app that shows you exactly where the trail has been GPSed. Also, you can go on to Saskatchewan Snowmobile Association's website, sasksnow.com, tap on the interactive map and it shows you all 10,000 kilometres that are in Saskatchewan. All 55-ish clubs have to do the same thing," Heier explained.
While the weather granted some snow, the temperatures in late December and early January weren't very bearable. However, understanding the two-year wait to ride, volunteers used every moment to get the trails done. And the club hopes to finish everything up in the next couple of weeks, weather permitting.
The Estevan Snowmobile Club also usually has one or more fundraising activities throughout their season. While most plans aren't set in stone yet, Heier said they are holding what they call Sled 4 Tickets at Thunder City Power & Leisure.
"You get a chance to win one of four brands of sled, a $12,000 voucher towards buying a sled or you can take 10,000 cash. Those tickets are for sale at Thunder City," Heier said.
"And we sell memberships for $25 each. Those are available at Thunder City currently. And we may plan – I'm thinking potentially in February, maybe early March – one or two derbies either in Estevan or in Lampman, but it hasn't been discussed yet because currently there's not enough snow to do that."
Derbies are usually attended by 50-150 riders, which is pretty hard on the trails and requires more snow than what is on the ground now.
Heier also reminded the snowmobilers to always plate their machines.
"Make sure you put your sleds, $110 from every plate goes towards the Saskatchewan Snowmobile Association, and they are redistributed to all the clubs to help pay for the cost of grooming and the trail signage."