If the snow won’t come to you, go to the snow.
That’s what I did this past weekend, when I trailered the snowmobile north to the cabin near the Canadian border to finally put on some miles. So far, snowmobiling, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing or just about any other winter activity that requires snow hasn’t been an option here in Grand Forks, where conditions are absolutely dismal. Again.
Driving north Saturday morning on Minnesota Highway 220 near East Grand Forks, I was struck by the near complete absence of snow in the fields. The ditches were filled with “snirt” that appeared to be rock hard, and the countryside looked more like something you’d expect to see in late March than in late January.
Fortunately, snow conditions improved as I drove north and east, and by the time I got to the cabin, the countryside actually looked like it is supposed to look in winter.
Even here, though, the snow’s relatively late arrival has delayed the process of trail grooming. So, we spent most of our time “breaking trail” in ditches, on a small river that flows through the area and on state land where snowmobiling is allowed.
Conditions, for lack of a better word, were spectacular. And barring a warm snap, they should get even better as more of the land trails in the region are groomed.
There’s something magical about driving a snowmobile in fresh powder, and the snow literally floated off the skis Saturday and Sunday. At times, I wasn’t sure whether I was driving the snowmobile or whether the snowmobile was calling the shots.
Farther back in the woods, the sun shining through the pine and spruce trees and their snowy branches was a welcome contrast to the barrenness of the snowless countryside that greeted me as I drove out of town Saturday morning.
Who knows how long the snow will last? In the meantime, if your snowmobile is collecting dust from lack of use, I’d recommend hitting the road and going to the snow. There’s good riding to be had within a couple of hours’ drive.
Here’s hoping it’s not like last year, when winter was all but over by the middle of March.