Oh boy, Oh boy!

The view from the porch at the MSA Office in Augusta on Dec. 30. The southern tip of ITS-85 is about 600 yards to the left. Soon, soon...

The view from the porch at the MSA Office in Augusta on Dec. 30. The southern tip of ITS-85 is about 600 yards to the left. Soon, soon…

I have to tell you that while I may never say that my faith is wavering, seeing the high temperature hit 60 in Maine on Christmas day caused a few brief moments of doubt. Not to worry though – within days the miracle of Maine weather kicked in as it should and blanketed the state with our first real snow of the season. It was followed by a second storm, and now we have ended up here! Once again winter is saved just in time for New Year’s weekend, traditionally the first snowmobiling weekend of the season.

Trail condition reports have slowly started to come in from clubs, and to get the latest visit the MSA Trail Conditions page on our web site. The nuns always used to tell me that if you don’t have anything nice to say, keep your mouth shut and the same rules apply for trail conditions. If you don’t see an update from your favorite riding area, it probably means that they really don’t have anything to say yet. The nuns also told me that patience was a virtue, and they were right about that too. The long spell of unseasonable weather was great for getting pre-season trail work done, but the down side is that very little ground in Maine is frozen and with the arrival of snow to serve as an insulator, that problem may extend a ways into the season. Water holes and low spots will likely be very wet, as you will be if you hit them full blast tearing down the trail. Moderation is the word to start the season.

And speaking of water, our major concern this season is very real. There are virtually no lakes or ponds in the state that have frozen over. That’s easy enough to see and avoid now, but the real trouble will begin when these water bodies get a skim coating of ice and then a few inches of snow on top of it. It will look very inviting, but the chances of a disaster are very real. I could talk about the various survival strategies if you go through the ice, but the best strategy is to not go through at all. Here’s what the Maine Warden Service has to say about it – believe it!

Those same words of caution apply to that first ride of the season. Sure we’re all anxious to get out there, but moderation is the key. Maybe you didn’t get that sled serviced like you should have, and you’re certainly a little rusty after a summer that lasted six months, so take it easy the first time out. There will be plenty of winter to enjoy Maine’s fine trails. Take care of yourself and your machine and sooner or later, you’ll get to them all.

Finally an update on my last blog post: I wrote about the new Trail Supporter Stickers that allow you to donate $25, $50 or $100 to the Snowmobile Trail Fund and in exchange get a sharp sticker to proudly display on your sled. I got blasted with comments from readers who quickly discovered that they were nearly impossible to get your hands on. Going to your local registration agent earned you nothing more than a blank stare, and the incomprehensible process for buying it online through the MOSES system practically required an advanced degree in computer science. That is all fixed now. IF&W has placed the stickers as an item in their online store, and they can be easily purchased there. You should still get one – they’re a great investment in your wintertime fun.

Be safe and we look forward to seeing you out on the trails.