Just in time for the Christmas holiday, snowmobile trails are open and ready for thrill-riders to travel through the woods. It's the first time in 45 years Lake Tomahawk's New-Tom Sno Fleas snow mobile club opened trails before January.
"The early season start is very good and we actually have very good trail conditions for early season snow," said New-Tom Sno Fleas President Kevin Krueger.
These trails didn't get this way by themselves, however. Ed Kairis has about 50 years of experience grooming the trails making sure they're smooth and safe for riders.
"The trail I groom has heavy traffic on it during the day times and early evenings, so I can't start grooming until about 10 o'clock. Then I groom the rest of the night," said Kairis.
There's more to grooming than just maneuvering a ten-foot-wide machine, though.
"You have controls in the cab that controls the drag that your pulling to cut the snow and deposit it in holes," said Kairis. "You constantly watch it, it's not just steering down the trail."
The Sno-Flea club along with the Oneida County Sheriff's Office held their annual snowmobile safety course.
"What I focus on is the stuff that I see go wrong in the field: the complaints, the riding off the trails, the speed violations, the alcohol, and the crashes," said Oneida County Recreational Officer, Brad Fogarty.
Students in the class also got to learn that there's more to snowmobiling than just riding the sled.
"It takes a lot of steps and these Sno Flea guys do a lot of stuff to make the trails so nice and smooth," said Carleene Morien, a snowmobile safety student.
Kairis said, "we do everything for safety and we work on them 12-months a year. Everything we do on a trail, whether it's grating, bulldozing, taking trees down, taking rocks out, and grooming is all volunteer. We don't get anything for doing that, other than a 'hi' from a snowmobiler."
The Sno Fleas ask riders to respect groomers, stay on the trails, and be safe while riding.
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