An unusually small amount of January snow in southern Manitoba is creating unique challenges for the 52 snowmobile clubs based below the 53rd parallel.
Only eight clubs below the parallel have been successful at grooming trails for public use, according to Snoman (Snowmobilers of Manitoba).
“The snow cover is minimal and one of the biggest challenges we have, is we have a lot of riders, and having that many riders wears the snow out, so our snow is thin here,” says Joe Thievin, a snow groomer for the South Interlake Snoriders Club.
Thievin and his team are responsible for grooming 280 kilometres worth of trails in between Winnipeg and Teulon, stretching from Warren to Petersfield.
“We’ve had to alter the trail locations in some areas so we can provide that nice smooth snow covered trail,” said Thievin.
“There are areas where we have no snow at all, very little snow, and so it’s harder on the equipment and snowmobiles.”
The adjusted routes aren’t bothering veteran riders like Greg Bruce, who’s just happy to be outside.
“We have safe trails right now so I’m just relieved to be able to have a place to go. Would it be nicer if we have more snow and more trails open? Absolutely!” Explained Bruce, who calls Stonewall home.
Along with other club members, Bruce has noticed an uptick in new riders this season despite a sparse selection of groomed trails.
“Snowmobiling gets us out for some fresh air and some exercise, and just a bit of a relief.”
The only thing that may accelerate that relief? A large dump of snow.
“We’re hoping the new health order will allow us to open our shelters up and allow people to go north of the 53rd where the snow is really nice,” says Thievin.