Family (and club) fired up for snow season
It’s not every person in the Northeast who gets excited when winter finally really hits and the snow begins to fly, but every person doesn’t own a snowmobile.
Weather over the weekend brought plenty of fresh snow and began getting many an attitude adjusted into the winter frame of mind — at least those who have spent the past few months pruning trees and setting markings around the trails.
Some rarely leave the mindset, like members of the Border Riders snowmobile club.
The father-and-son team of Dwayne and Dan Daigle worked as the snow continued to fall Saturday readying a grooming “drag” in anticipation of a day when there’ll be enough snow to require the trail smoothing machine. Lending a hand was club Vice President Chris Rathbun; Dan Daigle is the current president of the Border Riders.
“This is about when the club starts getting fired up,” Dwayne Daigle said, turning his face up to the steadily falling snowflakes. “It gets you fired up.”
The Daigles said they had been snowmobiling as a family for years.
Elaine Daigle recalled with a chuckle her son Dan’s first ride down the driveway on an Arctic Cat Kitty Cat.
Now a father himself, Dan Daigle couldn’t wait to get out and ride even then as he dragged his father along the snowy driveway. “Dwayne was trying to hold him back to keep him from going too fast and next thing you know, he’s off his feet and –zoom- away they go,” she said.
“We’ve been around it awhile,” she said. Now that the snow has started to arrive, Elaine Daigle said, she’s not antsy. “Now that the snow is here you just don’t think about it,” she said.
As the membership coordinator, Elaine Daigle said, she can tell others are finally getting into thinking about snowmobiling because her phone has been ringing.
Under a state program, any member of a snowmobile club can register their sled for about half the cost. To take advantage of the reduced registration rate, snowmobilers need to have a voucher showing they have paid for a snowmobile club membership, she said, noting a number of vouchers had been issued over the past few days.
Elaine Daigle said she finds snowmobiling enticing because it’s about getting out into nature, off the beaten path.
“I just love to be out there seeing the hills and valleys – it’s really very relaxing – a workout, but relaxing,” she said.
Dwayne Daigle said he like the relaxed pace the local trail systems allow while still providing access, when the snow is plentiful, to other Eastern states and even Canada. “Not many people realize just how far you can go,” he said.
After last winter’s surprisingly long riding season, Dan Daigle said, he has high hopes for this year.
“Last year was a good comeback,” he said, adding that he has been riding snowmobiles since he was about 5 and is looking forward to riding with his son, the rest of the family and the club.
“This is good to see,” Dwayne Daigle said, gesturing to the falling flakes on Saturday.
With snow piling up and more in the weekend forecast, it was a far cry from the some of the worst years he could recall. In 1979, he said, he rode just 100 miles during the whole season and all of that was because the Champlain Canal finally froze over.
Although the group had a working excursion planned for Sunday morning, both men said they hoped to be able to get out and log some miles very soon.
The latest member of the clan to get his papers and be officially able to ride on the trails is Dylan Daigle. As his dad and grandparents talked, Dylan kept riding in the fields around the house until he was cold and had to come inside.
A deceptively thin coating of snow was getting deeper by the minute, but Rathbun reported the trails just a short distance from his Honey Hill location in South Granville still lacked the coverage he’d like to see before riding and were a long way from needing the groomer.
“We’d like to see a good base before people start riding, but you can’t tell people what to do,” Dwayne Daigle said. As he spoke a number of riders passed through the nearby fields and later that night riders’ headlights could be seen bouncing along through the fields adjacent Route 149.
A good base by the Border Riders’ definition would be a coating of heavy wet snow, at least 6 inches, that gets a chance to freeze solid.
The heavy snow then forms a protective barrier to keep the later snows around. “And you need a good frost,” Dwayne Daigle said. In some years, he said, he could recall the lack of a hard frost delaying the start of the season because the ground stayed too warm and melted the snow that fell.
One of the oldest snowmobile clubs in the state, the Border Riders trace their history back to 1970. Dwayne Daigle said the original club boasts Granville residents as original members, including Dave Bean and Albert Berkowitz.
The group now oversees more than 60 miles of trails across the township of Granville.