In case you’re wond’rin …

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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: peggyt@siltnet.net

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