OPTA preparing for upcoming snowmobile season
Jesse Bonello - Staff Writer
The Ojibway Power Toboggan Association (OPTA) is looking to set and start grooming their trails in the coming weeks as they prepare for the approaching snowmobile season.
The OPTA said they’re waiting for the ice to get thicker before marking the lakes.
“We don’t have our trails set yet because we’re just waiting for ice thickness. We usually have to wait until we have, probably, over six inches of ice so we can start marking the lakes. That’s our next big job – marking all the lakes, marking the trails, and then packing them down,” said Les Cosco, OPTA President.
“We can’t really groom them with the large groomer until probably mid-January. You need approximately 16 to 18 inches of ice to groom the trails. We usually don’t get that until January after Christmas. We bought a smaller work sled groomer, which is a small grooming machine that we can get on the ice a lot earlier, at about six inches of ice, so we’ll be using that this year to groom all the trails right away in the next two weeks. It’s going to probably make the trails a lot better than they’ve been in years past,” he said.
Cosco wanted to remind snowmobilers that the season hasn’t started yet, and the trails aren’t open yet. He said the trails should be open within the next couple weeks once ice conditions improve.
“In this area, we’re bound by the ice conditions so we have to wait for the ice to thicken up before we get the trails set up because we don’t want people on the trails being in danger, so we have to make sure there’s enough ice. Just because there’s enough ice on Pelican Lake doesn’t mean there’s enough on Little Vermilion Lake, Big Vermillion Lake, or Lac Seul. There’s different ice thicknesses in different areas. We usually check all our ice conditions near our trails, so that’s why it’s very important to try and stay on the trails when you’re snowmobiling because if you veer off the trail we can’t guarantee that the ice is safe. We can near our trails,” he said.
Cosco said the OPTA is excited for events that they have lined up in 2020.
“Our next big event, but it’s not really our event, is Snowarama. It’s organized by the Snowarama committee, so we just host the event at our clubhouse. The event that we run, the Poker Derby, is happening Feb. 1, which is a Saturday. After the Poker Derby we also have a dinner and a social. The raffle sled will be drawn at 7 p.m. that same night,” he said.
“Usually on Family Day weekend we do a Family Day ride. It’s not actually on Family Day. It’s on the Saturday before Family Day, so that’s one of our big events. It’s very well attended by families of course, and we usually have a free lunch at the clubhouse afterwards,” he said.
He informed that snowmobile trail permits can be purchased at www.ofsc.on.ca, from the Ontario Federation of Snowmobile Clubs. Purchasing a permit makes local residents members of the club.
Cosco said the OFSC membership has continued to grow over the years.
“It’s a pretty big sport in this area, partly because we have such long winter so people have to do something. A lot of people are getting involved in it, and it’s a growing sport in all of Ontario. We belong to the OFSC and every year their membership has been increasing over the last ten years, which is good,” he said.
People can keep up to date on club happenings on Facebook at Ojibway Power Toboggan Association.