ESTEVAN — The snow that Estevan received last month was warmly greeted by some, including members of the Estevan Snowmobile Club.
The club now has about 80 per cent of its trails groomed, according to board member Darcy Yergens.
“We got that early snow, of course, in December, so we were able to get the groomer out and just pioneer the trails, as we call it, just to pack them down a bit, and then we got the stakes up,” said Yergens.
When the region gets enough snow to have trails ready by the end of December, it means a good winter for the club, he said.
The main trail runs north of Estevan, ties in with Lampman and allows them to connect with the Moose Mountain Snowmobile Club’s network.
The trails are in great shape, Yergens said. They could still use a few more centimetres of snow, but they’re able to pack and groom the snow, creating a solid base.
“We have about 280 kilometres of trails. It’s a lot for the one [grooming] machine, but we keep it running almost around the clock when it needs to. We do a pretty good job of it.”
There are a couple trails that aren’t finished, but only because they ran out of marking stakes. One is near Outram and the other is in northeast Estevan. The club has been waiting for more stakes to arrive.
Yergens noted that the club has approval for riders to operate snowmobiles in select areas within city limits. One is in the northeast that takes users to the Black Grasshopper Pub, hotels and other services. Other designated areas are the Royal Heights Esso and the Shell service station in the south end.
“Those three places are approved staging areas. So, you can unload your snowmobile there and ride from there. Other than that, you’re not supposed to ride within city limits unless it’s on the trails.”
Yergens noted these “staging areas” encourage people to come to Estevan for snowmobiling.
The club also has a few shelters. Their main structure, which they called the 361, is just west of the Junction of Highways 47 and 361. A new shack was constructed for this year, and it is approximately twice the size of its predecessor.
“There’s always chopped firewood there. We have a new cookstove in there, so you can bring your hotdogs and sausage and cook them right there. It’s a really nice, brand new cabin with benches and places to hang and dry your clothes and warm up.”
Thanks to 12-volt LED lighting, it will be lit up at night and a covered deck is illuminated, too. The shelter also has a windbreak, an outdoor fire pit and an outhouse.
“We’re talking about having some family evening rides up there,” said Yergens.
They have two other buildings in the area. One is the Eagle’s Nest Shack west of Benson and north of Macoun, and the other is the Lord’s Grove shelter south of Outram.
“We have a nice loop … so you can hit all three of them in one day, easily, with groomed trails,” said Yergens.
Each shelter has firewood and benches, and they provide a place for people to socialize while out of the cold.
“For that week in between Christmas and New Year’s, all of our shacks were just steady. I don’t think there was any time in which there wasn’t anybody there during the day.”
They also share the Blue Line shelter near Lampman with the Moose Mountain Club.
The Estevan Snowmobile Club has discussed having events this year, such as a poker rally that would take participants to the different shelters. They haven’t booked anything yet. They don’t want to compete with other events in the area, such as the Arcola Optimist Club’s annual fundraising snowmobile derby, and they need the weather to co-operate with any events they host.
Yergens encourages people to ride with a friend, especially on colder days, in case of a breakdown. And he asks people to not drink and ride.
He noted that a snowmobile licence includes a trail permit that allows them to ride on any groomed trail in Saskatchewan, and he expressed gratitude to landowners who allow snowmobilers to access their lands.