Mother Nature dealt us a bad hand this past week with nearly 20 inches of snow and then 30 mph winds for two-plus days, creating very difficult driving conditions. The clubs have been out all week getting their sections opened, and yes, there have been some struggles along the way, with groomers getting stuck in drifts, breakdowns and just plain hard work.
The resolve of the County groomers will not show any signs of defeat. Sly Brook Snowmobile Club has been down with their two machines all week; no worries — Fort Kent has come to the rescue and have been out to help them out.
This storm might not have been the biggest snow amount that we have seen in the past, but it certainly was a devastating storm because of the winds. Most all open areas now look like the moon landscape. It is highly recommended for snowmobilers to stay on marked trails, as the fields are going to be very rough.
As I write this report it is currently 36 degrees and raining. While most clubs have made a pass through their systems, they will now wait until the temps cool back down on Friday to get back out there.
This new storm that we have just received has created a new hazard for snowmobiles and motorists, and that is road crossings are going to be a little more difficult as the banks are much higher. So please use caution when approaching these crossings, especially the ones that are out in the open fields.
Caribou and Red Arrow have been informed that they will need to reroute ITS 83 in the Little Madawaska Lake area. This change will occur in two weeks. The new route will be using the powerline all the way to St. Peter’s store. We will be out in this section next week attempting to open and pack down the snow. This trail has not been used in many years, so anyone that has been riding The County will remember this trail and how much fun it was. Please stay off this section until it is completely open and signed. This is going to be a joint effort between the two clubs. Irving will be on the Sullivan road and the section of Red Arrow’s trail and will be plowing out the Coulombe Road. The forester is giving us plenty of time to get the new section open. I will keep you all informed as we get closer.
This is Long Lake International Ice Fishing Derby weekend and most of the lakes in the Valley are used. There will be more people out on the lakes than usual so please stick to the marked sections on the lakes. Long Lake will be the most populated one, so please use caution especially around the Long Lake Sporting Club.
CAUTION: Deer are everywhere. They are being spotted in Caribou on trail 83B, In Ashland on ITS 85, Portage on ITS 85. Please keep an eye out all the time as we all know that deer live throughout this County. Also, as the snow is getting deeper this means that all the big game animals will be venturing out onto the trails as it is easier walking for them.
Soldier Pond is reporting that their groomers are both down now. Fort Kent has been out to help them, and they hope to make another pass before the weekend. There are reported big drifts out on 73, so please use caution.
Washburn has been out on their trail 105 and ITS 83 and will be out to groom once temps drop. The Aroostook Hospitality Inn trail has not been opened yet but is passable. Trail 61 is not open as there is a logging operation now. There is going to be a logging operation in the Blackstone area, which is trail 105, and the logging has begun, so sledders please stop at the Blackstone intersection where the Nordic Lakers meet Washburn. The club would like to let people know that if you do encounter the Cat out on the trail, they will stop to allow safe passage. Please go slow and be cautious. If they need to pull over off to the side of the trail they may get stuck.
Portage Lakers have been over their entire system and plan to be back out once it cools down. There will be a heavy logging presence on ITS 85 near the Hewe’s Brook area, please use caution in this area as the trucks will be hauling.
Caribou is reporting that they have been over their system and have opened all road crossings. Trail 89 (Connor) has only had the road crossings opened. They plan to groom on Friday. The logging operation on ITS 83 North of Jemtland road will be finishing up soon.
Fort Kent is reporting that they are still busting through drifts and hoping to have everything groomed by the weekend.
Fort Fairfield is reporting that everything is open and will be at it again once it cools down. Caution is advised that the banks are high, and signs are becoming buried.
Central Aroostook Snowmobile Club is reporting that they have been over everything once and will be back as soon as the weather cools down.
Ashland is reporting that they have everything packed down and will be out once temps drop. There are still a lot of deer on ITS 85 between Ashland and Portage.
Allagash is reporting awesome conditions on the 120 and 92 towards Chamberlains. The first 2 miles of Fall Brook are plowed, and logging is still occurring. This trail is closed during the week and reopened for the weekend. The trail will be open for Friday as they are not hauling. This is one of the access trails to Glazier lake for the Ice Fishing Derby.
Frenchville is reporting that they have groomed everything and will be back at it once it cools down.
Red Arrow is reporting good that they have been out and will be out once it cools down.
The Chapman Ridge Runners are reporting that they have been over everything and will continue once it cools down, Trail 105 South is now open.
Aroostook River Snowmobile club is reporting that they have opened everything, and they will be out again when it cools down.
Easton is reporting that they have busted through everything.
Walker Siding has got their machine back from being down and will try to have everything open for the weekend.
Madawaska is reporting that they have been over most everything.
Grand Isle is reporting excellent conditions. Trail 81A which has been rerouted will now be back in the original area, they will be installing signs shortly.
Presque Isle Snowmobile Club is reporting that they have everything open and are in good shape.
Van Buren is reporting that they have been over all their trails and will be out again once the temps cool down.
Nordic Lakers have opened all their system and are reporting good conditions. Trail 81 has been rerouted on the Holmquist Farm; it has been marked. Please use caution as sledders will need to share about ½ mile of road with logging trucks.
Caswell is reporting that they have been over their whole system and will be back out once it cools down. Trail 102 to trail 89 in the Connor area is now open. Please use caution as they are going through a logging operation.
Limestone is reporting that they have been over their system.
With the huge storm this past weekend what a crazy time to have equipment breakdowns! The Meduxnekeag Ramblers completed grooming the railbed, ITS83, only to have the rear end go on one of the groomers. Hopefully the mechanic will get the parts necessary for repairs and have the machine back in working order by Friday. Meanwhile, the Assistant Trail master is
Meanwhile the trail from the Houlton suspension bridge to the Littleton Pit Stop, ITS86, is ready as well as the trail as far as Harvey’s Siding. For those interested in something for the kids to do, the drifts across the trail have been bulldozed and the groomer made it to the sliding hill in Monticello. The Trail master cautions sledders to watch out for drifting snow.
Speaking of breakdowns, Linneus Sno-sports has a groomer in for repairs and is making it all happen with the spare machine. ITS83 is ready with some excellent conditions. ITS 105 is complete on their end to Haynesville and the Trail master is reporting that they met the groomer from East Grand Snowmobile Club and the trail is open on their end to Danforth.
Shin Pond Village (Bowlin/Mattagamom/Shin Pond) is during their busiest months and is in survival mode but still managing to keep the trails clear. All trails are open, and the Trail master will be out tonight. They report excellent trail conditions and even if we get the predicted rain on Thurs day by Friday the trails will be ready for the weekend.
The Smoki-Haulers covering ITS81, 60 and 61 reports that after some challenges (involving a groomer, lots of water and the required excavator to rescue the groomer) things are looking good. The trails are groomed and ready with the appropriate signage and no water holes. Every club hopes to have some young people step up to help with the day to day business and this has been the case for Smoki-Haulers of Oakfield. Trail master Josh not only runs the groomer but is also a mechanic. Kudos to the club for rallying the troops to make the trails better for all of us!
Our friends at Molunkus Valley Snow Drifters are reporting ITS83, 3 and 3A are ready to go. After Thursdays predicted rain the crew will be out again making sure all trails are in good shape. If you have a chance check out their FB page and the daily reports by the “Snow Queen”. She won’t steer you wrong because her husband is Trail master!
Big Valley Snow Club out of Island Falls is ready for the weekend and reports that all trails are excellent. ITS83, 54, 60 and 83A will be groomed again on Friday after the rain.
This from Benedicta Snow Gang. All trails have been groomed and are ready for sledders. With the rain expected on Thursday the Club asks that sledders refrain from spinning their tracks as this sets slushy ridges which will refreeze Thursday night and impact grooming on Friday.
Oxbow/Masardis are reporting that they have been over 85 and 86 and are planning on getting back out once the temps drop.
Don’t forget the Meduxnekeag Rambler breakfast which starts at 6 a.m. on Saturday and is served until 9 a.m. in the clubhouse on the Wiley Rd. in Monticello.
Please keep an eye out on the County’s Facebook pages for the latest updates on trail conditions.
ON THE SOCIAL SIDE:
Washburn Trail Runners clubhouse will be open Saturday 7-2 and Sunday 7-12.
Presque Isle stew night at the Clubhouse on Fridays starting at 5 p.m.
Sunday January 27 Breakfast Fundraiser at the Pleasant Ridge Riders snowmobile clubhouse, 7-10 a.m.
Saint Francis Sno Angels will have their clubhouse open for lunches starting at 11 a.m. and will continue throughout the winter.
Snowmobile storage is available for monthly accommodations in Caribou. Call 493-3311 FMI.