Snowmobile clubs shut muddy, watery trails

Snowmobiling clubs are shutting down trails that turned from fluffy white to brown in a week’s time
PHOTOGRAPHER:

Snowmobiling clubs are shutting down trails that turned from fluffy white to brown in a week’s time because of unusually warm temperatures, but some are pinning their hopes on the possibility of a snowstorm next week for a new start to the season.

Following a dismal season last winter when riders waited until February to get out on the trails, local trails this winter were opened by December and were offering plentiful opportunities to ride until the snow started disappearing as temperatures rose.

Though there’s only rain in the forecast for Friday, a National Weather Service meteorologist said snowmobilers may get a reprieve on Monday.

Oppenheim Trailblazers Inc. informed riders via its Web site that trails were closed Tuesday, the club’s trail coordinator, Arnold Hart, said.

“There just is no snow. North of [state Route] 29, there is some snow left but there’s water holes and snow holes,” Hart said. “Who wants to pay $9,000 or $10,000 for a snowmobile and run it through the mud?”

Trail coordinators said their recreation is dependent on the weather that, so far, has offered less than two weeks of riding time.

“There might have been 10 days of reasonable riding,” said Jim Bode, trail coordinator at the Fonda-based Ful-Mont Snow Travelers Inc.

“We always have faith it will come back. I think it’s not that unusual to get snow and then lose it. If we’re lucky, we get to keep the snow after Christmas and keep riding,” Bode said.

“For the past two or three years, it’s been intermittent until mid-January and February. We take what we can get and wish for more,” Bode said.

Trail coordinator Dan Clancey from the Palatine Bridge-based Forest Preserve Users snowmobile club said the rapid melting could be beneficial if the ground gets a chance to freeze before the next major snowfall.

“We had a good base started but the ground wasn’t froze, so any snow we got kept melting, water holes stayed water holes,” Clancey said.

When the ground freezes first, Clancey said the snow only melts from the top and therefore sticks around longer.

“I wish the snow stayed but we had a good base going but now that’s all gone everywhere,” Clancey said.

The best chance for meaningful snow is a storm forecasters are keeping an eye on for Monday, National Weather Service meteorologist Ray O’Keefe said.

Categories: Schenectady County

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