Clearing a path: Northwest Colorado Snowmobile Club grooms trails for fellow riders
With so much land available to outdoor recreators in Moffat County, it helps to have some dedicated community members donate their time so others can have fun.
Here in Moffat County, Northwest Colorado Snowmobile Club members help groom trails on both sides of Black Mountain, creating opportunities for other area snowmobilers to enjoy all that Moffat County has to offer, in terms of winter outdoor recreation.
The club maintains the Freeman Trailhead and the Black Mountain Trailhead, thanks to two Prinoth Bison Groomers that cut trails for snowmobilers. The club has 50 active members and has volunteers that go out twice a week to plow the snow mobile trails.
Two of the people that drive the groomer are club President Dan Hodges and Bill Spicer, a board member for the organization.
The Craig Press tagged along with members of the club on Friday, Jan. 15, which happened to be the second trip that the organization has made that week. Two other volunteers went out on Tuesday, Jan. 12 to clear off the Black Mountain side of the mountain.
Hodges and Spicer have been riding snowmobiles themselves for a combined 90 years, which had led to the membership in the club and the dedication to grooming trails. The organization grooms well over 100 miles of trails according to Spicer. As a result, the two men brought with them food and bottles of water in backpacks to drive around the mountainside.
“We’ll be out 12 hours today,” Spicer said. “We’ll go about 70 miles today and then the Black Mountain side is 70 or 80 miles.”
Hodges joined the club because he wanted to operate the groomer. Hodges has been operating machinery since he was young and so he thought the club would be a good way to get to run the snowcap.
“It was just getting outdoors and being involved in an organization that promotes the sport. I said, if I join the club, I’ll get to operate the snow cap,” Hodges said.
The Prinoth Bison Groomer is essential in their clearing the path for snow mobile riders. The volunteers carry a chainsaw that they bring out when the groomer is unable to a clear a tree from their path.
“Sometimes we use it to push trees out of the way. We carry a chainsaw with us, if we can’t cut the trees out of the way. It smooths out it knocks down drifts,” Hodges said. “It smooths out from the previous riders — these deep powder snow mobiles make a lot of divot — so we smooth it back out for people to ride on.”
Spicer, who was recently awarded the International Groomer of the Year by the Snowmobile International Hall of Fame, has been driving the groomer since he retired in 1996. However, the club needs more drivers for the groomer, during the week.
“We are short of drivers. A lot of people have day jobs, so they can’t get out here. I’ve been grooming since 1996,” Spicer said.
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