It’s the Merritt Snowmobile Club’s busiest time of year, with volunteers working hard to maintain trails, upgrade existing infrastructure, and prepare for new projects thanks to newly allocated funding. In addition to providing the Nicola Valley’s highly active snowmobiling community with trails to ride on and events to take part in, the MSC is reminding trail users that safety comes first.
The Herald sat down with Merritt Snowmobile Club’s Vice President, Simon Rizzardo, to chat about snowmobiling safety, trail maintenance, and exciting new projects. Rizzardo’s biggest piece of advice? Plan your ride in advance.
“Make sure that you’ve given your plan or your trail that you’re going to ride to somebody that is staying back in town, so they have an idea where you’re going,” said Rizzardo.
“We do have a PDF on our website that basically is a quick form that states how many are in the group, what radio channel you’re going to be on, what your cell phone number is, when you expect to be back, where you’re going to ride, who you’re riding with, and what frequency you’re going to be on for an FRS channel.”
Along with the handy PDF file, visitors to the MSC website can find the club’s trail webcams, which refresh every 10 minutes and will replay the previous 12 hours. The filled PDFs should be placed on the windshield of the vehicle left behind at the trailhead. In addition to the checking of webcams and filling of PDFs, Rizzardo says there are a few things to do to be prepared before hitting the trails. This includes ensuring sleds are in proper working order, checking the validity of registration and insurance documents, purchasing or renewing an MSC membership, and ensuring proper communications systems are in place.
Rizzardo also suggests the use of location beacons and two way radios, which can improve communication in group ride settings, or when heading out solo. He also discouraged solo trips for first time riders, or those unfamiliar with the area they’re riding in. The MSC Facebook group allows for discussion and event planning between riders of all skill levels. Group rides often take place in the MSC’s Brookmere-area network of trails, which are due for more technological upgrades soon.
“The Merritt Snowmobile Club was given a BC Snowmobile Federation grant, for upgrading and installing a collection hut on the Honeymoon trail,” noted Rizzardo.
“We put in for four projects, and we’ve had one of them approved at this point, for constructing a collection hut with solar panels, communications, and a Wi-Fi hotspot out there. If it all goes up and starts working no problem, we may install another camera up there.”
The grant from the BCSF will allow Rizzardo and the MSC to install and maintain the collection hut, which is used as a stopping point for riders and as venue for collection of club dues. The club will also soon install a new webcam for their Honeymoon trail system, which is ready to be placed pending approval from the province.
For more information on the Merritt Snowmobile Club, visit their website at www.sledmerritt.ca.