Friday, January 29, 2010

Snowmobiling Trails: Groomed and Otherwise

A page on the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources website says "Minnesota offers over 20,000 miles of groomed snowmobile trails. Over 18,000 miles are maintained by local snowmobile club volunteers."

We've got one of those groomed trails here, where the railroad used to be. In summer, the Blueberry Walleye Trail is a 10-foot-wide strip of asphalt used by walkers and cyclists. This time of year, it's snowmobile country.

Some trails are groomed. Others: well, you won't find them on the DNR maps, but we've got what I suppose you'd call ungroomed trails, too. Some of them are downright unkempt.

This winter's lavish snowfall made most ditches in central Minnesota snowmobile-ready. The more snowmobiles buzzed over the ditches, the harder the snow was packed. Sort of self-grooming?

Somebody's been putting little tiny "Stop" signs where roads and streets cut across the ditches: facing into the ditch.

They're a sort of reminder to snowmobilers that cars and trucks, besides being a whole lot bigger, have the right of way.

By the way: It's a really bad idea to see if your snowmobile can jump the road. It probably can, but people have died trying. Like I said: it's a bad idea.

Besides, there's enough excitement in racing across a frozen lake: wondering if that dark patch ahead is the shadow of a cloud, or open water.

Happily, folks who enjoy ice fishing and snowmobilers get along. Maybe snowmobilers have the good sense to steer clear of those little villages of fishing huts.

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