Snowmobilers dreaming of open trails
By Darren Lum
Published Jan. 14, 2019
Christmas has passed, but snowmobilers are still waiting for the gift of the open trail.
This past weekend’s fluctuating temperatures, heavy rain and snow was a mixed blessing for the Haliburton County Snowmobile Association.
“We got whacked, but will come out of this OK,” HCSA director John Enright wrote in an email to the Echo on Sunday. “The 10ish centimetres of new snow after all the other weather was a bonus. We need a day or so to assess our trails and with the cooler temperatures they will dry out after the drenching. We have numerous ‘water holes’ (where water collects in low spots) and are fixing them as we can – see HCSA Facebook cover shot as an example. Look for a change in our status mid-week. This is a blessing. We have a decent trail base to build on.”
Even before the weekend, Enright said the HCSA was optimistic despite the ever-changing conditions.
“We’re very enthusiastic, very enthusiastic. We’re very encouraged with the recent weather we’ve had,” he said, referring to cold temperatures and snowfall last week.
Last year’s season started earlier, but typically the season in the Haliburton Highlands has started close to mid-January. Storms with high winds that felled trees across trails during the summer and fall also delayed the opening of trails this season, he said. These trees cannot be removed until the trail is open so the necessary machinery can be moved in place.
Enright said the HCSA was the first trail-building organization of the 17 districts represented on the Ontario Federation of Snowmobile Clubs network trail map to have had a trail opened this winter. The B103, which is the trail between Haliburton and Kinmount, was one of the few open in the network until it was closed prior to the weekend. As of Monday, it had not yet been re-opened. Enright did not say which trails are close to being opened, but did point out trails such as the Rail Trail require less base of snow which helps with opening sooner. See www.ofsc.on.ca for status of trails.
Haliburton County is part of the Snow Country Snowmobile Region District 6 Ontario Federation of Snowmobile Clubs, which includes Bancroft and Ottawa Valley.
Work remains for the HCSA, which has nearly two dozen volunteers. Enright welcomes more volunteers to help with posting signage, clearing brush, packing snow, opening gates, and preparing a new looped route tour. He jokes the club needs 2,000 volunteers for all the work they do to prepare and maintain the 370 kilometres of trails, including 75 kilometres of water crossings.
Most of the “off-trail activities” are close to being completed with 800 stakes to waterways still left to be placed.
The HCSA reminds riders to stay off closed trails.
“The Haliburton County Snowmobile Association says its Trail 15 from the north end of Halls Lake to Little Brother Lake is unavailable until further notice. Parks Canada is rebuilding a dam at Little Brother Lake and is doing considerable blasting and rock removal,” Enright wrote in an email last week. “Snowmobilers riding the closed trail had a very close encounter just as the contractor was preparing for a blast. Meanwhile cars, and other snowmobilers have been encroaching too close from the Little Hawk Lake Road side. The HCSA is asking all snowmobilers not to ride unavailable trails.”
Stakes on waterways don’t automatically mean the trail is open, Enright said: “Head Lake is staked, but that trail is not open.”
Kennisis Lake has just two inches of ice thickness and is not open.
See www.hcsa.ca to volunteer or for more information.