Monday, January 12, 2015

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Snowmobile club grooming trails for weekend riders

Andrew Philips, special to The Packet & Times
ANDREW PHILIPS/SPECIAL TO THE PACKET & TIMES
Mike Wiancko, right, of the Orillia District Snowmobile Club, speaks to another snowmobile enthusiast after grooming a section of trail near Tudhope Park. The club is busy getting area trails ready for the weekend.
ANDREW PHILIPS/SPECIAL TO THE PACKET & TIMES Mike Wiancko, right, of the Orillia District Snowmobile Club, speaks to another snowmobile enthusiast after grooming a section of trail near Tudhope Park. The club is busy getting area trails ready for the weekend.
Rob Love has been fielding a number of calls from the Toronto area this week.
The Orillia District Snowmobile Club president said sledding enthusiasts in that area are excited to hear about all of the snow that’s hit the region over the past few days.
“We’ve had quite a few people calling who are looking for places to go,” Love said, adding the Orillia area is close enough for those living in the Toronto area to come up for the day.
“This is a good place to drop the machine off and go for a ride. It’s also a good location as the starting point for a trip further north.”
The club’s large industrial groomers were busy preparing trails on the west side of Lake Couchiching this week.
“It’s more of a priority since we’ve had a little more snow (there),” Love said, noting while more snow forecast throughout the week is good news, the colder temperatures mean it’s a little bit tougher to groom since it doesn’t pack down as well. “But it’s a lot better than what we had before.”
Mike Wiancko, the club’s vice-president, was busy grooming a stretch of trail in and around Orillia. He said the trails should be in great shape for the weekend.
Besides trails running through the city, the club operates a network of trails throughout Oro-Medonte, Ramara and Severn townships.
And despite the lack of snow prior to Christmas, Love said he wasn’t worried snowmobilers would have to wait too long to enjoy their favourite pastime.
“I never really get into a panic until we’re into the second week of January without snow,” he joked.
“We’ve sold a lot of permits this year, which is good. The sales are based on last year’s snowfalls.”
Love said the club boasts a core group of about 30 volunteers who help with grooming and getting everything ready for the season.
Each fall, the club’s volunteers go through sections of the network, cutting back the overgrowth encroaching on the trails. They also install stop, yield and turn signs along with directional signs pointing to specific destinations.
“We got a few extra people out this year, which is great,” Love said, adding the club also has about 1,100 permit-buying members.
A seasonal Ontario Federation of Snowmobile Clubs permit costs $260. Permits are available online and through a number of area vendors.
For more information, visit sledorillia.com.