Volunteer Army Rises To Winter Challenge

The winter of 2024 in Ontario has been exceptional for two main reasons. One is exceptionally bad, the other exceptionally good. As every snowmobiler knows, the bad is that we’ve suffered the worst season in recent memory. Abnormally unreliable snow and temperatures have caused more snowmobiles to stay parked than to get ridden. The OFSC Interactive Snowmobile Trail Guide (ITG) has shown Red trails way too often, but not always…

That’s because of the other reason this 2024 winter has been exceptional: the remarkable success that our army of club volunteers in making a little of something out of a lot of nothing. Even when Mother Nature delayed the normal start of our recreational snowmobiling season into early January, our volunteers mobilized to make sure OFSC Prescribed Snowmobile Trails would be ready to ride.

Record Trail Availability Increase
And ready they were. When a blast of snow arrived near mid-month, our trail experts turned 52 kilometres of Yellow trails into over 12,000 within a week. That’s an astounding 23,000% trail availability increase in record time. Suddenly, Ontario snowmobilers had some trails to ride and the Yellow and Green topped the 15,000 mark just a few days later. No one was happier with this outcome than our volunteers, all avid snowmobilers themselves.

But once again, Mother Nature didn’t co-operate. This unprecedented trail availability accomplishment was followed by several weeks where our volunteers carefully packed or groomed where possible. Always on call for more snow, they patiently monitored trail status to help preserve whatever trail base remained.

Unfortunately, weather conditions deteriorated yet again, and only eight days before Ontario’s Family Day Weekend, the ITG was once again showing less than 1,000 kilometres of Yellow or Green trails. Meanwhile as if to rub it in, Nova Scotia was hit by the snow storm of the century, the one we all wanted. What a setback – one which would have caused many less steadfast to give up. But not our army of volunteer snowmobilers…

Yet Another Great Save
Mere days before the Family Day Weekend, the forecast began calling for snow, almost exactly a month after January’s 15,000 km bonanza. And quick as the snap of thousands of volunteer fingers, available trails went from less than 1,000 to over 7,000, just in time for the long weekend – and that number soon grew to over 10,000, a 900% increase!

Snowmobilers Helping Snowmobilers
That we’ve had any trail riding at all is an above and beyond the call of duty achievement by the OFSC’s volunteer army. When called upon, these special forces put their personal lives on hold and even gave up their own trail riding opportunities to produce the best possible snowmobile trails for the rest of us to ride. This, despite knowing that their herculean efforts might be undermined once more by Mother Nature, and that they couldn’t possibly deliver the trail riding opportunities of a normal winter. That’s the resilience, commitment and grit we all support with our permit dollars– the very least we can do to say a well-deserved thanks to our army of resolute volunteers.