TRURO – It’s been 40 years since Bryan McLellan experienced snowmobiling for the first time.
His first sled, a Motoski, provided endless hours of fun and camaraderie travelling through the outback with friends.
“I just got involved in it because some of the other young fellas were getting into it,” said the president of The Fundy Trail Snowmobile Club.
“I like the outdoors and travelling around different areas. I’ve snowmobiled in most areas of Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, in Maine and some in Quebec.”
These days, snowmobile clubs play a key role in providing safe, groomed trails for riders to explore off-highway winter scenery. The Fundy club alone grooms about 150 kms of trails about once a week, depending on snowfall.
McLellan said the number of participants in any given year depends entirely on weather conditions and this winter, so far, has been good for snowmobile enthusiasts.
“The guys are out running now,” said the president.
Truro–based Cat Shack owner Paul Blenkhorn said he is seeing an increase in snowmobile sales already this season.
“It’s really good,” he said. “I would say it’s on the incline.”
Blenkhorn said last season was “less than a perfect year” because there just wasn’t enough snow locally. However, serious snowmobilers travelled out of province to get their fill of winter recreation.
Of the three main outdoor recreation lines sold at the business – dirt bikes, all-terrain vehicles and snowmobiles – the later is the most expensive to purchase, but Blenkhorn said it is also the most fun.
“I would compare a good day of snowmobiling in the winter with a good day in a boat in the summertime.”
Peter Nelson, president of the Sutherland’s Lake Trail Groomers Association, said while the sport is embraced differently today than it was when he drove his first sled, a 1968 Olympic Ski-doo, about 45 years ago, it is still a popular winter past-time in his home community of Sutherland’s Lake.
“It’s a lifestyle,” said Nelson. “You get lots of fresh air and see lots of scenery.”
Each year the association hosts a snowmobile ice drags event, which draws about 2,000 snowmobile enthusiasts to the area, as well as one of the largest poker rallies in the province that attracts about 300 participants.
He said not only are these events fun and get people involved in winter sports, but also provides much-needed funds to cover grooming costs and other association expenses.
Sutherland’s Lake Trail Groomers Association upcoming events:
– Dan O’Neill Rally: Jan. 26, all day. Registration at the club house, free hot dogs and cider stops on the trail.
– Eighth annual snowmobile ice drags: Feb. 9, all day. Sutherlands Lake, cost $5.
– For more information, visit http://sltga.ca/