St. Marys Journal Argus
That was the simple answer from Science Hill Drifters Snowmobile Club President Mike Sheppard, when asked earlier this week what it will take to have approximately 200 kilometres of trails — maintained by the St. Marys-based club — re-opened for use.
“We could use a good six inches,” Sheppard explained. “Even just a few inches would get us up and running on some of our trails, but we need six inches or more to have everything open.”
As the snow began to accumulate early last week, the Science Hill club — which has a clubhouse off Thames Road, on the northwest outskirts of town — marked the first opening of its trails for the 2013-14 season. Running northeast to Stratford, west to Exeter, and southwest to Ilderton, the opening provided links to nearby regions that had already received ample snow earlier in the winter.
By the weekend, a southerly link was also opened, as the Thamesford Snowmobile Club — whose trails meet with Science Hill’s on the southeast edge of St. Marys — got up and running. As a result, the parking lot at the Wildstone Grill (Stone Willow Inn) on Queen Street West was surrounded by snow machines at lunch time, including sleds owned by a group of enthusiasts from Brantford, who left home at 8 a.m. and made it to St. Marys in time for lunch.
All trails are sanctioned by the Ontario Federation of Snowmobile Clubs (OFSC). Membership in the local clubs includes the rights to travel on all OFSC-affiliated trails. The Ontario Provincial Police sent out a news release last week encouraging all snowmobilers to limit their riding to OFSC trails, since the use of snowmobiles on private property or on roadways may, potentially, be in contravention of the law.
This week’s thaw, however, brought all local snowmobiling activity to a stop. Much of the snow has disappeared.
But Sheppard is optimistic, since a hard, frozen base still remains on the Science Hill trails. In particular, he’s hoping for a blanket of snow over that base in time for Saturday, Jan. 25, when the club hosts its annual Steak Barbecue/Poker Run/Karaoke Night/Radar Run.
“Our traditional event is the Poker Run,” the Club president explained, adding participants collect playing cards by making designated stops around a route on the Science Hill trails. He called the Poker Run “a nice, leisurely cruise with the family.”
For those with more of a taste for speed, the Radar Run involves single sleds traversing a straight track near the Science Hill clubhouse, and having their velocities tracked by a radar gun.
All this takes place in conjunction with the Steak Barbecue and Karaoke Night.
“It can be a pretty popular thing,” Sheppard said. “If we’ve got good snow for that day, there can be upwards of 200 sleds at the clubhouse.”
For tickets, email Sheppard at firstname.lastname@example.org, or speak to any Science Hill Drifters club member.