Page 1 Page 2 Page 3 Page 4 Page 5 Page 6 Page 7 Page 8 Page 9 Page 10 Page 11 Page 12 Page 13 Page 14 Page 15 Page 16 Page 17 Page 18 Page 19 Page 20 Page 21 Page 22 Page 23 Page 24 Page 25 Page 26 Page 27 Page 28 Page 29 Page 30 Page 31 Page 32 Page 33 Page 34 Page 35 Page 36 Page 37 Page 38 Page 39 Page 40 Page 41 Page 42 Page 43 Page 44 Page 45 Page 46 Page 47 Page 48 Page 49 Page 50 Page 51 Page 52 Page 53 Page 54 Page 55 Page 56 Page 57 Page 58 Page 59 Page 60 Page 61 Page 62 Page 63 Page 64 Page 65 Page 66 Page 67 Page 68 Page 69 Page 70 Page 71 Page 72 Page 73 Page 74 Page 75 Page 76 Page 77 Page 78 Page 79 Page 80Winter 2017 | 21 where they’re from and what they think of our trail. Many tell me it’s the best-kept secret in the area. That makes it worth my time.” Grooming on a sled is physically demanding. There’s a lot of jockeying around, especially when breaking down drifts or maneuvering in tight twists. Volunteers are given a few pointers but basically train themselves. “It’s not like you can have a passenger to give you advice. On a sled you’re on your own and adjust to conditions,” explained Allen. Some of the more frustrating things about grooming are when riders spin their tracks, which make whoops at the bottom of hills. Or, when ATVs create big ruts in the trail, breaking through water bars, making it impassible for a snowmobile. “Many ATV riders are also snowmobilers. I don’t think they realize the damage that’s done with their ATVs,” lamented Cloutier. Some of the biggest challenges are maintaining momentum to maneuver through narrow passages while keeping the rig on trail and avoiding stumps or trees and hoping the drag doesn’t catch an obstacle lying just below the base. It’s a little unnerving since it can, and will, stop the sled dead in its tracks. Volunteers are not strapped into the seat. Rochette added, “You never forget the spot where it happens. It quickly becomes the first place I visit to correct in the off-season if I can’t fix it then. Thank God for the winch! I never leave home without it.” When possible, volunteers work on grooming equipment themselves. The last project was to rewire accessories on the club’s three Skandics. There were starter problems on two sleds, likely related to the electrical load from added accessories. Rochette separated all the non-standard components, added proper switches, fuse blocks, relays, solenoids, a separate battery and upgraded the lights to LED. Using a sled to groom is demanding. Volunteers are out in harsh elements for five or more hours at a time. It could be a clear night with the temperature hovering in the single digits, snowing or even drizzling. Hand warmers offer little comfort. When conditions are less than ideal, volunteers have yearned to sit on a warm cab’s seat with a backrest, listening to the radio, watching the harsh weather outside as they push through drifts to lay down a solid ribbon of white. The best Pathfinder volunteer groomers can do is dress warmly, bring a thermos with a hot beverage, a fully charged iPod with ear buds and a walkout kit if things go bad. Like their predecessors, there are times when Rich, Gary, Bob and Jerry enjoy grooming when conditions are perfect and they can get the job done.  On a clear, still night or at the break of dawn, the guys will stop, shut down their sleds and bask in the peace and quiet of the moment. Rich Rochette summed it up this way, “It’s one of the best ways to get away from the day-to-day and is a fitting reminder as to why we groom.” Melanie Tregoning is vice president of the Wardsboro Pathfinders Snowmobile Club. She is a professional marketing consultant, graphic designer and copywriter. In & On The Groomer Gary Urbinati Rich Rochette Jerry Cloutier Bob Allen