District boasts first open snowmobile trail

Dan Falloon

It isn’t much, but Rainy River District is home to the province’s first stretch of open snowmobile trails for the 2010-11 season.
A five-mile stretch from Emo to the Highway 11/71 junction opened Monday.
“It’s finished and groomed and open right now,” said Borderland Snowmobile Club president Dave Goodman.
“It’s the first piece of trail open in Ontario.”
Goodman also anticipated making some significant progress on more trails in the days ahead.
“By this weekend, we’re expecting to be most of the way to Stratton, and by this end, we’re hoping this weekend or early next week to be through to Fort Frances and [have] all of Fort Frances done,” he noted.
However, there is a bit of a thorn in the side of the club’s efforts given swampy areas had not frozen as of Monday.
The two biggest trouble spots are a swamp in Crozier and one near Emo’s landfill.
“The biggest issue right now is getting the swamps and creeks frozen,” Goodman acknowledged.
“Typically, we have a month of cold weather before we get lots of snow, and so the freezing happens first and then you get the snow,” he explained.
“This year, it came the other way around and with the snow being such an insulator, there was no frost on the ground.
“We’ve got, probably, 10 km of swamp to cross,” Goodman added. “A lot of guys have been riding through, and they said they’ve been kicking up mud and water.
“You can’t take the risk of putting a $100,000-plus machine [groomer] in a swamp, sinking it,” he stressed.
However, club volunteers are doing as much as possible beforehand so that the swamps can be prepared as soon as they’re ready.
“Out in Crozier, the trail between Emo and Fort Frances, there were guys that were packing the trail this weekend, getting it ready for the groomer,” Goodman said.
“They were running through swamps that has water on top of the swamp.
“That has to all freeze first before we can get the groomer across it,” he remarked.
Even with the delays, though, Goodman said the trails are
looking to be in shape ahead of schedule.
“Normally, if the trails are open and fully functional by the week that kids get out of school for Christmas, that is the norm,” he said.
“We’re actually running early this year.”
Meanwhile, there are a number of ways that riders can get involved.
“We still are really short of volunteers in the Fort Frances area with things like helping monitoring signs, putting up signs, making sure the trails are clear of brush,” Goodman said.
“We’re looking for someone to help with data entry for the permits.”
Goodman noted the Borderland Snowmobile Club’s website (www.borderlandsnowmobileclub.com) has a list of contacts for those interested in lending a hand.
He also called on sledders to help out—even in an unofficial capacity—by riding so that the trail is widened and makes multiple lanes, not just one.
“Right now, the main thing is riding wide on the trails so that the whole trail gets packed, rather than just one trail down the middle,” he reasoned.
Goodman added taking care of the trails is quite an undertaking given the amount of area the club covers.
“Our local snowmobile club, which now covers Mine Centre to Nestor Falls to Rainy River, actually takes care of 539 km of trail,” he noted.
“It covers an area of 17,000 square miles.
“Right around Emo here, we’ve got 40 or 50 hours already of brush-clearing and maintenance on the groomers.”
Goodman wrapped up by saying riders seem particularly excited by the sport this year as trail permits temporarily are sold out all over the region.
Extra permits should be available later in the week.
“Permit sales all over Northwestern Ontario are way ahead of normal,” Goodman enthused. “Dryden, Atikokan, this area, and Kenora, the clubs have all run out.
Lastly, “classic” permits, which are available for snowmobiles from 1996 and earlier, have been selling well.
These permits are sold for $125—half the price of a regular one.
A complete list of permit vendors is available at www.borderlandsnowmobileclub.com