Snowmobilers in the southeast have had a season of highs and lows. 

Mitch Gobeil of the South East SnoRiders has been grooming trails this winter. Until last December, they were only operating with one groomer. The Piston Bully, their new groomer, has created a major impact.  

He says the trails have been “okay,” but it has been a “very challenging winter.”

“We didn't get really cold weather early in the season. Then, we got that big dump of snow roughly mid-December which didn't allow the lakes and rivers to freeze very well because we didn't get a bunch of cold weather. We didn't get a chance to open all of our trails,”

More specifically, trails that include swamp bogs and river crossings have only been open for a month.

He says that if they controlled the snow amount, they’d “prefer too much than not enough.”

“Last winter was great. The other thing that kind of messed us around last winter was the high winds that caused lots of snow drifting. And our trail system, just under 600 km, the trail that we look after, most of it is in the bush, but in the open areas like the bogs and such that trails get blown over on a winter like last winter. But that's the nature of the beast,”

Looking ahead, Gobeil says they don’t have a deadline for when trails will close, but they plan to "give it another go" this week.

“It depends on the condition. It grooms better when we have colder weather. But it's kind of living week-to-week type of thing.” 

As the season’s end nears, Gobeil notes snowmobilers can check Snoman for trail updates in Manitoba. 

“The trails, when they do get closed, we notify Snoman. Snoman, has a link to what they call the trail status, and it shows what trails have been groomed within the last five days or more than five days, or if the trails are closed and even sections of trails. Most people are very familiar with the app that you can also buy one for your phone as a separate app,” 

Finally, earlier this month, they hosted the 11th annual Vintage Sled, Show, Shine & Ride and had a successful turnout. 

“We had 115 snowmobiles, vintage snowmobiles registered. We were able to make a donation to the Never Alone Cancer Foundation of $12,195,” he explains. “That's the money we've raised through the registration and donations people have made during registration. We want to say thank you for supporting that.” 

With files from Adi Loewen.