I expect this year’s freshman class to be extraordinarily large. If the volume of calls and emails are indicators, there will be a significant number of new riders, accompanied by many returning after being away for a decade or more. That’s 9000-rpm music to the ears.
Snowmobiling Not Inexpensive
The newbies have plenty of questions, with “How much does a snowmobile cost?” taking the pole position. I suppose the most realistic response would be “How long is a piece of string?”
Snowmobiling is not an inexpensive recreation although if you are resourceful you can ride on the cheap. Buying used gear and skinning your knuckles in the garage make it affordable but it’s an investment either way.
Purchasing isn’t always cost effective. If you only ride once or twice a year, renting is viable. I’ve rented multiple times when the trailering math was backwards.
Surprising Cause of Snowmobile Accidents
Within the January/February issue of the Sno-Traveler are large chunks of solid advice from our team of trail experts. Captain Walsh of NH Fish and Game shares a truly mind-bending statistic. While there are only 318 rentals sleds in the whole dang state, they account for over 30% of all accidents in NH.
Obviously, those units rack up a ton of miles and are often piloted by inexperienced riders. Sadly, a negative experience could scare someone away forever, which is so preventable, as the captain points out.
Common Sense on the Trails
This reinforces a point I often shout from atop my soapbox to non-snowmobiling friends and strangers alike. Snowmobiling isn’t easy. It’s a rider-active sport. More downhill ski swooshing than traffic trundling in an SUV. But anyone can do it with minimal assistance and advice.
I would no sooner strap a set of Rossignols on my mom and push her over the edge of Tuckerman’s Ravine than I would sit her on a sled and pull the rip cord. You gotta institute some common sense.
Chief Gamache explains why humans should avoid physical contact with those flashing fluorescent-colored hippos that graze the trails. Mr. Etchells goes one further, claiming that hovering aircraft have been known to block trails.
I’ll add that I’ve seen far too many people parked in the middle of said trails, chatting about the wedding of Miley Cyrus or something equally vital. Again, use trail sense with a touch of street smarts.
The Real Cost of Snowmobiling
One little understood aspect of snowmobiling is the cost of grooming. Imagine if you could buy a single-day lift ticket and then ski allseason at any resort in the state at no additional cost. Crazy talk, right?
Well, that’s essentially what you get with a snowmobile registration. It costs about the same as a single-day on the slopes but allows VIP access to 7,000 miles of trails anywhere in NH. For the whole year! That’s the best deal on snow, and you can thank a tiny number of club volunteers who make it a reality.
Problem is, registration dollars no longer cover the costs of making smooth trails. What’s a volunteer to do if they don’t have enough cash to fill the groomer with fuel? That’s the question that snowmobilers face today.
The answer is obvious. We all need to pitch in and make life easier for the club volunteers to maintain the trails we love so much. It’s the least we can do.
Photos: Jason Balint and Dan Gould