MOHAWK – Grooming the hundreds of miles of snowmobile trails in the Upper Peninsula can be a thankless job. It can be pretty rare to see a groomer but the hard work starts bright and early – or rather, in the dark. Trail groomers in the Keweenaw Peninsula start their day at 4 am most days. They start early for a number of reasons, the most important is safety. Because they can avoid traffic on the trails.
“[We] get here, we’re gonna check over the machine, look for any leaks, check all the fluid levels, then we’ll fire them up. Let them warm up for about 10 minutes. Cause it’s hard on the equipment out here. But we’re looking for any signs of damage and any wear and tear, before we get out there. Cause we’re out remote, yeah we’ve got four other machines that are out, but we’re spread out and dispersed across our 200 miles of trails that we’re grooming right now. So I can tell you I’ve been amazed this year. It’s my first year with the club. the number of snowmobilers that get over and stop, yell out from under their helmets “Thank you!”, thumbs up. it’s really heart-warming to know that so many people really appreciate the work that we go out to do everyday.” – Ryan LaPorte, President Keweenaw Snowmobile Club
There is more science to grooming snowy trails than one may think. Whether it is guiding the Piston Bully through white-out conditions with the blade at the front. Or moving snow drifts out of the way on road crossings to help riders with visibility when getting across the highway. They sometimes even help to pull snowmobilers out of the ditch.
“To lay a good trail, you gotta know what you’re doing. And if you don’t lay a good trail it’s kinda pointless to be out here. Cause you could just make it more rough, you know. Heat the snow up in the drag, hit it with the pan, and then it should tend to freeze over. And then build a solid trail. I think it’s kind of rewarding trying to help as many people as we can. I think that this organization and every trail system in the whole U.P. helps each and every community in their own way. People come from everywhere to ride the trails in the U.P. Because we have some of the best trails, good conditions, lots of snow, and and lots of different scenery that some people aren’t used to seeing.” – Justin Rogan, Shop Boss and Operator
If you happen to see a trail groomer out surfacing, stop and pull over to let them by. Its safer for both of you. And wave hello. They’ve probably been up for a while, and always appreciate seeing people out enjoying their hard work. These dedicated crews ensure that winter tourism keeps humming in the Keweenaw.
Rogan said public support is always welcome. Check out the Keweenaw Snowmobile Club online, or make a donation at a drop box. They can be found at most stops near the snowmobile trails. If you are interested in becoming a member of the trail club, check them out on Facebook and volunteer some time to keeping the trails clear and safe for riders all winter long.
Keweenaw Snowmobile Club Facebook
Keweenaw Trails Report Facebook
Keweenaw Convention and Visitors Bureau Snowmobiling in the Keweenaw