Just Enough Snow to Groom
With a crew of 4 volunteers today, we were able to run the ginzugroomer on both Hwy 819 and Kay’s Loop. The snow is soft on top of a firm trail and the temps were in the mid to low 20’s so the snow conditions should remain the same for a while. The forecast is for significant snow and wind over the next couple of days. The trail is in great shape for early skiing. There was enough snow so the grooming leveled the trail and covered the truck ruts on Hwy 819. Both Kay’s and Hwy 819 are marked in the open areas so we can find the trail again if the forecast holds true. Eric’s Loop has been skied and has a nice single track all the way around. If possible, I may run the snow mobile around Eric’s on Sunday, but there is always quite a bit of trail leveling with a shovel that needs to be done on Eric’s before the ginzugroomer can be run around it. James’ Loop has not been snowshoed yet. If we do get significant snow Sunday or Monday, I am sure someone will open it up as a Christmas present.
Think Snow!! Enjoy the winter weather on the Trail.
Fresh snow on the West Elk Trail
Last night’s storm brought between 6 to 8″ of high moisture snow to the trails. With the wind that came along with the snow, most of the truck tire trenches on Hwy 819 have enough snow in them to be able to start grooming. People have skied and snowshoed up Hwy 819 and around Kay’s loop. With the old snow that settled and the snow last night, Hwy 819 and Kay’s loop are ready to groom. We will have a group on the Trail this coming Saturday, December 20th. We can use help putting out marker stakes and doing some snow shoveling where the road trenches are deep. Grooming will start around 11:15 on Saturday. If you can join in, we’ll see you Saturday at the trailhead.
Why are so many ski resorts opening early but grooming operations on the West Elk trails have not yet begun?
In a word – snowmaking. The ski resorts have it – the West Elk trails don’t.
Up on the Flat Tops we rely on Mother Nature to provide the snowpack which creates a base for our grooming operations. Our trail system’s rolling meadows and meandering gullies require several feet – not inches – of snow for good coverage. Our groomers have miles of fencing and acres of wetlands to contend with as they consider the readiness of the snow for grooming.
Early season snow settles and melts easily. We need three major snowstorms that dump at least 8 inches and more, and most of that snow has to stay on the ground, in order to provide enough snow cover for grooming. The Flat Tops have had two major snowstorms this fall so far. If that snow stays and doesn’t melt off, we only need one more big dump.
Running snowmobiles on the trails covered by less than two feet of snow can be dangerous because of fencing and other trail hazards that get covered up by deeper snow. Running snowmobiles on thin snowpack damages the environment and definitely disturbs the wildlife. During this time after hunting season ends, the elk, deer and other wildlife are settling into their winter habitat.
Remember, the West Elk trails are always open. You are welcome to go on up any time and enjoy early season back country skiing and snowshoeing before grooming operations begin.
Edgar Davidson went up on Sunday, November 30 and reported: “The snow was good. Tried to set a second track on Kay’s loop. The snow was a little thin at the overlook but skiable. The fence posts are still too tall.”
We are in the process of putting together our grooming team for the season. We need volunteers. Equipment and training are provided. Contact Tod Tibbetts: 970-366-6857. Or email Peggy Tibbetts: firstname.lastname@example.org