RUMFORD — Thursday night's snowstorm brought powdery delight to area ski resorts like Sunday River in Newry.
But for local snowmobile clubs, the 5 to 8 inches of dry, fluffy snow isn't nearly enough, nor is it the right consistency.
“A good windstorm will blow it all away and (sledders) will spin it off the trails as well, but there's nothing we can do,” Jon Holmes, president of Dixfield's Poodunck Snowmobile Club, said late Friday evening.
That's why he and club officials in Rumford and Roxbury continue to urge riders hitting the trails to be very careful.
“The trails are all open, they're just not very good because of the lack of snow,” Holmes said.
“At least the ground's frozen now, so that helps a lot. Some trails have been groomed and some haven't, but there is enough snow to go on if you want to. You've just got to be careful.
“It's not real good yet, but that's Mother Nature's fault, not ours,” he said. “Because we certainly had plenty of volunteers that worked their butts off out there. We just need the snow. That's all.”
Dick Bonney, president of the Roxbury Slippery Sliders Snowmobile Club, said the new snowfall helps, but they're still a month behind due to last month's snow drought.
He said some of their trails are open and some aren't.
“We just got the snow last night,” Bonney said. “Another storm like that would be fine.”
Louise Stickney, secretary of the Rumford Polar Bears Snowmobile Club, agreed with Bonney and Holmes that much more snow is needed.
“Our trails are open, but it's quite marginal actually,” Stickney said of the riding.
“We have a lot of trails that go through the woods and they're old skidder trails, so they're bony to begin with, and lots of rocks and roots, and then you're in heavy tree cover with evergreens, so a lot of snow doesn't get down to the trail.”
Still, she and husband Bob Stickney groomed 7 to 8 miles of the club's 90 miles of trails on Friday. They did the High School, Maple Street and Porter Avenue trails.
Bob Stickney dragged three Christmas trees he got from the transfer station behind his sled, while she followed with a lightweight drag.
“A drag will carry snow and drop it into the hollows, not just smooth the trails but level the trails and get rid of some of the dips,” Louise Stickney said. “But the Christmas tree, it smooths the surface.
“We had about an inch of sleet earlier this week,” Louise Stickney said. “That was good actually, because that really packs onto the trails good.
“Considering what little snow we've had, (Thursday's storm) is good in that sense, but as far as ideal riding conditions? No, we're a long way from that,” she said.
Polar Bear members Tom Reed and Gene Knox also took the club's big Tucker groomer into Tropical Storm Irene's washout on ITS 82 west between Black Mountain and Rumford Whitecap.
She said they filled the gully in with as much snow as they could, making it passable for sleds and the groomer.
A promised fix of the bad spot didn't happen before the season began, so club volunteers worked on it with sledgehammers and a winch to move rocks and widen the trail.
They managed to move enough rocks to get the groomer through, so it's passable now for sleds, but caution is needed.
“We just need some more snow to fill that in,” she said. “It's a late season, but it's early in the late season unfortunately, and I know people are just so anxious to get out there and ride.”
The club has a counter on their website and when it snows, the number of site visits shoots up to about 270 hits in a day.
“They're saying, 'Can we ride yet? Can we ride yet?' And you can ride, you just have to be very careful,” Stickney said.