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Don't Quit Now, The Season Just Started

Published in the March 2010 Issue Published online: Mar 24, 2010 Column Ryan Harris
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You can't count on anything these days. The only thing less reliable than the economy anymore is winter.

There have been pockets of good snow out West early on this season, but there have also been pockets of crappy snow . or pockets of no snow. But it's not necessarily because we're having worse winters lately. Actually, it's because winter is as lazy as an Oakland Raiders defensive lineman.

When I was a kid waaay back in the `90s, winter showed up in October. At least it would get cold by then. Sometimes there would be snow on the ground for Halloween. In 1995, my friends and I rode on Oct. 20. This year, my first ride wasn't until late December, and there was half the snow there was on that October ride 15 years ago. On both rides, you could feel every stick, log, rock and sapling through the baseless dry powder. For the six weeks following each of those rides, the snow didn't necessarily get much better. Then, winter finally hit. In 1995, the big storms hit in early December. If you remember last season, the big storms hit late January.

We hear a lot of people complaining about the snow conditions over the past few years, especially early in the season, when riders are anxious to get out and break in new gear. But if you look at last year as an example, the snow came-it just showed up late. The best snow of the season came when most people were fogging their sleds' cylinders and dusting off the golf clubs.

I'm not trying to predict the storms that will finish out this season, but the amount of snow that falls in the mountains between March 1 and May 1 is nothing to turn your nose up at. Winter is shifting to a later schedule in the year. Blame it on climate change, El NiƱo, the economy, Scott Brown, Rex Ryan or the SnoWest Forums.

The deepest snow western Colorado saw last year was in April. While guys from all over the snow belt are whining about a short season because the snow was thin in December, a handful of riders are carving S-turns in four feet of powder with the sun shining across their helmet visors.

It may be harder to convince yourself to load up and go play in the powder when the grass is beginning to turn green, but if you want to get the most out of the money you invest in snowmobiling, you really need to. We see too many riders putting anywhere from 500 to 700 miles on a sled January through March, and then parking it. There's another 500 miles worth of riding in the weeks following the close of March, and it's not uncommon for those to be the best 500 miles of a season. Deep powder, firm base and lots of sunshine.

Besides that, riding after April 1 means having fewer tracks on the snow, fewer riders to run into in the backcountry and fewer trucks to deal with in the parking lots. Wait, what have I been saying? Forget everything. Spring riding is terrible. Stay home, go golfing, don't mess up my snow.