By Randy Green
…or how would you describe the typical PA Snowmobiler? And how does PSSA best serve the PA Snowmobiler?
I was enlightened several years ago on this topic. At a club meeting of our local club we were discussing where everyone rides. It was surprising to learn that over half the club members had never ridden on a groomed trail. Many of our club members simply ride from their back yard thru a series of connected farm fields. No map, no signs, but restaurants and gas on the way. Many didn’t have a dedicated snowmobile trailer and they may have rode the local Prince Gallitzin’s State Park’s 15 miles of ungroomed trails but that was the extent of their state park experience. If there’s no snow in the back yard, they don’t ride. And there hasn’t been snow in the back yard for 2 years. Let’s call these sledders “Locals”.
Another enlightening experience was at a PSSA Spring Meeting. I sat in front of some sledders from the Erie area and they discussed the challenges of creating, maintaining and grooming hundreds of miles of snowmobile trails all on private property requiring land owner permission. To make matters worse, the club members did all the work, bore all the costs, but anyone could ride the trail including a lot of NY riders. Occasionally they got DCNR Funds or PSSA grants for grooming but by and large the club members had the trail system on their shoulders. This snow haven area of Erie has seen very erratic snow the last two years. Call them “Private Grounders”
The sledders that I typically ride with have the luxury of 7 state parks within 2 hours driving distance. We’re used to groomed trails (sometimes over used), plowed parking lots and heated restrooms. What we typically won’t find is food or gas like either of the previous riders. Friday night we discuss what Park will have the best, or any snow, and we head that way Saturday morning. Typically we can find good riding every other weekend though out the winter. We’re “Snow Chasers”
There’s more. Many sledders in south eastern PA have camps in Tioga or Potter County. Sledders in the Pittsburgh and eastern Ohio have camps in the ANF. These sledders are tied to where their camp is for their riding. So if camp doesn’t have snow, or you can’t plan on camp having snow, then you don’t ride. These riders have been really struggling the last several years. Call’em “Campers”
A good friend of mine finds snow by traveling great distances for it. He goes to Quebec or Ontario. Another friend really likes Old Forge., him and his wife go on “Winter Holiday’ there. Others travel to Maine, UP and Tug Hill NY. Although traveling these great distances can often produce great riding, it’s not a guarantee. Some riders take many trips to these areas in a season just to find reliable snow. Others will typically take one or two trips a year to fill in for the breaks in PA snow. These are “Big Time Snow Chasers”
All these snowmobilers love to ride. But each has their own perspective, and own challenges. Which one are you?
How does PSSA appeal to each one of these sledder groups? What does PSSA need to do for each of you? Please share your thoughts with PSSA and your PSSA Regional Director.