While the die-hards could be at it in the backcountry until late April, there are likely only two more weeks of snowmobiling on freshly groomed trails in western Newfoundland.
The groomers could be taken off the trails sooner if there is another significant mild spell or rainfall.
Bob Blundon is the grooming coordinator for the Western Sno-Riders Snowmobile Club and said this winter’s conditions for grooming are the worst he has seen since he became involved years ago.
“We’re two weeks now into what I’d call a stalemate,” he said after grooming the trail from Corner Brook west to the Shiver Shack on Loggers School Road Saturday.
“It’s too warm to be grooming, but it’s too cold to give it up.”
Most of the trails are still in good shape, despite the low snowfall and milder than normal temperatures so far in March. While there is normally between two and four feet of snow on the groomed trails this time of the year, Blundon estimates there is currently only between four inches and a foot in most places.
He said he will keep grooming when possible, up until bare patches start to show on the trail, which he expects will be the case within a week or two.
“I figured the rainstorm we had last week would do us in, but fortunately it didn’t,” he said. “One more rainstorm or three or four warm sunny days and we’ll be forced to give it up.”
To the south of the Western Sno-Riders jurisdiction, the grooming coordinator for the Bay St. George Snowmobiling Association acknowledged snow levels are not what they have been in past winters.
Still, Craig Mason, who also happens to be the club’s president, said there is lots of snow left on its two main trails, namely Cold Brook Road and 38 Trail.
Like Blundon, he is watching out for the bare ground to start appearing before he shuts down the groomer for the season.
“One big rainfall of 20 millimetres could be the end of that,” he said. “There is nothing in the forecast, so I’d say we’re good until the beginning of April, but Mother Nature could change things.”
The most recent rains that fell have done a number on trails closer to roads and along the old railbed, but Mason said there was a foot of fresh snow on the higher elevations of Cold Brook Road and 38 Trail when they were groomed Friday night.