Snowmobilers look to snowier days - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Snowmobilers look to snowier days

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"It's just an adrenaline rush," said David Rouleau, president of the Barre Town Thunder Chickens, as he describes the feeling of riding on his snowmobile. "We're a local club right here in Barre. We maintain 40 miles of trails."

Recently those trails, and many around the state, haven't gotten much use. The wild weather swings have created huge challenges. Thankfully a couple of light recent snowfalls are helping things out... just a little bit.

"This new snow is gonna allow some stuff to open back up. We do wanna caution riders -- it's very icy out there," said Matt Tatreault with the Vermont Association of Snow Travelers. The association has more than 4,000 miles of trails throughout Vermont.  A season's pass runs $120.

He says northern, high elevation areas are starting to reopen, but cautions it's a good idea to check with local clubs for first-hand conditions. Many of the VAST trails run right by businesses, including gas stations, restaurants, and even lodging. Riders spend money at these places and that contributes a lot to Vermont's economy. The last study from 2001 estimates that snowmobiling brings in about $500 million dollars to Vermont's economy. But when the weather doesn't cooperate that number can be smaller.

Sled sales are being impacted too. "The last few years, especially this year though, the sales numbers have been down since around Christmas -- and parts have been pretty regular, and service pretty busy," said Jesse Mastien with Laquerre's Marine & Sports Center.

Braving the trails in conditions like these means you are at a higher risk to damage your snowmobile. Despite this, Patrick Poulin of the Williston Hill Hawks, met up with us on trail.
"They say four inches is the minimum to use the snowmobile, about what we've got, but there's no base -- it's really rough, rocks," Poulin said.

He tells us it's going to take about another foot of snow to get the groomers out, packing the trails. In the meantime, most snowmobilers are enjoying each other's company. "The camaraderie of snowmobiling is incredible. The local clubs are a close knit group," Poulin said.

February and March typically bring us significant snow, so riders are still hopeful. "You get to explore different activities of Vermont that you can't get in a car. The scenery out there is unbelievable," Rouleau said.

Something that many riders are hoping to see before too long.

Many local snowmobile clubs put together variety of events as fundraisers. For more information on these events click here.

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