Forget That Map!

No, not that map! You should always have a current trail map with you. A compass and a GPS is also helpful, particularly and if you know how to use both of ‘em. The map you want to forget these days is this one:

sd1_today

Normally the NOAA Snow Depth Map is our friend. It us updated daily from field reports throughout the winter and is used to help predict what the spring runoff will look like, among other things. Usually it is a quick reference when you’re planning a ride. We even have a link to it from our Trail Conditions page.

That’s not such a good idea this year, because as we all know by now, this is an uncommon year. First we were buried in snow, then cold, then rain, then cold, a little more rain, and then lots of cold. By all rights, most of Maine’s trails should be an icy mess. A quick peek at the Snow Depth Map would indicate that far too much of the state is in fairly sad shape. Happily that IS NOT the case.

The X-factor is the remarkable foresight and skill of the folks that groom Maine’s fine snowmobile trails. They are truly craftsmen, and this year more than ever riders are enjoying the fruits of their labors.

We hit the trails last Friday, and what a great ride. We went for a leisurely ride from the Northern Timber Cruisers in Millinocket to Kokadjo and back on ITS-85 and ITS-86. We weren’t in any big rush, leaving the clubhouse around 10:30 am and returning before dusk. We managed to get in about 110 miles round-trip and all except for about 25 yards (yes yards!)  looked like this:

ITS-86

Not a bump or a rock or a mogul to be found. Nothing but 110 miles of some of the best riding we’ve seen in quite some time. So how did that happen? Simple – Just about every groomer in areas that didn’t get completely wiped out by the rain went out and groomed just before it arrived. It rained, that flat base absorbed that rain and presto! It all turned into a granite surface as soon as the cold hit a few days later. Just a couple of inches of snow every few days since has made it into what you see above. I tend to be the eternal optimist, because, well, that my job. But even I was stunned at the high quality of the trails out there.

To double check this theory, two members of our group hit the trails again last Sunday and rode the railbed from Newport to Dover Foxcroft and on to Greenville. Ditto on the conditions. That trail looked like this:

ITS-85 Newport

So, when you see a groomer out there, thank them. They’re the only reason this season is as good as it is. Do yourself a favor and get out there for a ride this weekend – excellent trails are a lot closer than you think. The forecast looks good for the rest of the month. Not many pesky warm spells and even – dare I say it? – snow in the forecast. See you out on the trails!

Here’s a few things going on this weekend – have a great time!

The Annual Ride-In to Benefit Pine Tree Camp is going on all weekend around Newport. All proceeds benefit the Pine Tree Camp

It’s Polar Blast weekend in Eustis, sponsored by the Arnold Trail SC. All kinds of fun from Friday through Sunday

Hope to see you out there. I’ll be at the Pine Tree Ride-In on Saturday, judging a whoopee pie baking contest – I sense a snowmobile cuisine blog post coming up soon…!