Snowmobiling is Alive and Kicking in the Northeast Kingdom

in Derby/Feature/News

DERBY — Every few years it happens that hunting season ends on Sunday, and snowmobiling season begins on Monday. With hunting season over, yesterday was the first day the trails were officially open. The Drift Dusters Snowmobile Club, which serves 62 miles of trail in the Derby, Holland, and Morgan area, spent opening day out on the trail with their groomer, getting ready for what should be a great season.

“We haven’t sent our groomer out on the first day of the season in a few years,” Roger Gosselin, Vice President of the Drift Dusters Snowmobile Club, said Monday night. “So, we’re off to a great start. The temperatures are down and the snow is here.”

Gosselin started maintaining the trail on Monday using the tracks of the groomer to pack down the snow that has accumulated. It froze overnight, and should provide a good base.

The Drift Dusters Snowmobile Club out packing snow on Monday in the Holland area. All photos courtesy of Roger Gosselin.
The Drift Dusters Snowmobile Club out packing snow on Monday in the Holland area. All photos courtesy of Roger Gosselin.

For snowmobile trails, a snow grooming machine works by pulling what is called a “drag,” behind it. However, at the start of the season, you have to make sure the conditions are right before using it.

“You usually don’t bring the drag out first because you don’t want to literally drag the snow off,” Gosselin said. “At the start of the season, what you want to do is just pack the existing snow down. Once you have a well established trail, then the drag works really well.”

The rule is that you need a four inch base of packed snow to start snowmobiling. Currently, parts of the local network at higher elevations have that already. Gosselin believes that all the early signs indicate that this year should be a good season.

“The upper elevation areas of the trails are open, but they are hard to get to,” he said. “Give us a couple of days. We’re supposed to get more snow, and that will put most areas into better shape.”

Snowmobiling in the area has recently had some bad press, being called a “dying sport,” by a local paper. For Gosselin, and many who have been involved in the sport for nearly a lifetime, statements like that are the result of not looking at the big picture.

“First of all, snowmobiling is a large part of our economy. Yes, some years are better than others, but, if you go through and look at the trends over the years, a few bad years are generally followed by great seasons.”

The groomer owned by the Drift Dusters Snowmobile Club based out of Derby, out on the trail packing snow on opening day.
The groomer owned by the Drift Dusters Snowmobile Club based out of Derby, out on the trail packing snow on opening day.

When it comes to the sport of snowmobiling in the area, Gosselin has paid his dues. He has been involved as a director of the Drift Dusters since 2003, having previously held the position of president for the maximum term of four years, and served as vice president off and on since.

The Drift Dusters are also one of the top clubs in the state. Started in 1970, the group usually has between 800 and 1100 members. In August they were awarded the Vermont Snowmobile Club of the Year. Previously they have won awards for best groomed, and best signed trails.

“This year it was a combination of good grooming, good signing, and a social media presence that is much more active than other groups in the state,” Gosslin said. “It was a big achievement for us.”

Gosselin also serves as the website administrator for the Drift Dusters. Their website was one of the first ever to sell trail passes through the internet. He has been working to creatively engage snowmobile enthusiasts online, as well as keep everyone informed of trail conditions through the website and social networks. Through Twitter, he even started an account for the Drift Dusters’s groomer.

Gosselin, along with Scott Jenness, who serves as president of the club, working with all the club’s directors, have made the 62 miles of track they maintain a spot that brings in riders from all over New England.

For more information about the Drift Dusters Snowmobile Club, visit them online. If you are on Twitter, you can follow the club at: @DriftDustersSC and at Facebook.com/driftdusters

Below is a killer promotional video that the club put out, which just goes to show that snowmobiling is not a dying sport. It is alive and well, and with the season underway, and clubs like the Drift Dusters working hard to keep the trails maintained, Newport Dispatch hopes all riders have a safe and fun winter.

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