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Tough Times For Sledding

Published online: Mar 05, 2014 White Out & Wide Open—The Blog Steve Janes
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White Out & Wide Open—The Blog

            This is one of the toughest times of the season for snowmobilers. The weather becomes much more moderate. The snow in the valley has cleared up and the earth is starting to dry and come out of its winter hibernation.

            It’s the time of year where we are all just a little tired of winter. We’re tired of being cold. We’re tired of short days, long nights and cabin fever. We want to get out. Even something like mowing the lawn sounds enticing.

            Yet it’s also the time of season when the snow depths in the mountains are just starting to hit their season highs. The days are longer and a little milder making for more enjoyable outings.

            So on one hand, you’re tired of the cold and winter. On the other hand, the snow is deep and the temperatures are much more pleasant. The only drawback is that you basically have to drive up to the mountain to find winter.

            This is the time of year where many snowmobilers start putting away their sleds and busting out the lawn mowers or golf clubs. But it’s also the best time to hit the mountains—the snow has a solid base and the sky seems to be just a little more blue.

            The lower elevation trailheads are starting to get questionable this time of year. It doesn’t make the riding bad, just a little more work to get to the good snow. In the higher elevations, you can’t beat the snow conditions.

            Last week rain showers washed away the lower elevation snow and made the mid elevation areas somewhat soggy throughout much of the West. Depending on the snow line, you could find the snow base pretty firm with some good fresh snow to ride, or you could encounter the type of snow where the base was breaking down and you were fighting with it.

            When you encounter these conditions, look to either gain elevation or get on the opposite side of the drainage (north-facing canyons usually will be a little colder and hold better snow longer).

            So before you park your sled for the season, you might want to take another look at the Snotel sites and see what kind of snow still remains up in the higher elevations. After all, once you quit, it’s a long wait before the season starts again next fall. And when you can stretch this season out through March and April (and even May) it sure makes the summer go a lot faster.

~SJ