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28 Snowmobile VERMONT TRAILSTRAILSTRAILSTRAILSTRAILSTRAILSTRAILSTRAILSTRAILSTRAILSTRAILSTRAILSTRAILSTRAILSTRAILSTRAILSTRAILSTRAILSTRAILSTRAILSTRAILSTRAILSTRAILSTRAILSTRAILSTRAILSTRAILSTRAILSTRAILSTRAILSTRAILSTRAILSTRAILSTRAILSTRAILSTRAILSTRAILSTRAILSTRAILSTRAILSTRAILSTRAILSTRAILSTRAILSTRAILSTRAILSTRAILSTRAILSTRAILSTRAILSTRAILSTRAILSTRAILSTRAILSTRAILSTRAILSTRAILSTRAILSTRAILSTRAILSTRAILSTRAILSTRAILSTRAILSTRAILSTRAILSTRAILSTRAILSTRAILSTRAILSTRAILSTRAILSTRAILSTRAILSTRAILS REPORTREPORTREPORTREPORTREPORTREPORTREPORTREPORTREPORTREPORTREPORTREPORTREPORTREPORTREPORTREPORTREPORTREPORTREPORTREPORTREPORTREPORTREPORTREPORTREPORTREPORTREPORTREPORTREPORTREPORTREPORTREPORTREPORTREPORTREPORTREPORTREPORTREPORTREPORTREPORTREPORTREPORTREPORTREPORTREPORTREPORTREPORTREPORTREPORTREPORTREPORTREPORTREPORTREPORTREPORTREPORTREPORTREPORTREPORTREPORTREPORTREPORTREPORTREPORTREPORTREPORTREPORTREPORTREPORTREPORTREPORTREPORTREPORTREPORTREPORTREPORTREPORTREPORTREPORTREPORTREPORT The main focus of this issue of Snowmobile Vermont magazine is GROOMING and our gratitude for our volunteer groomer operators out there. Despite the main focus of this issue there hasnt been much grooming yet this year. A few clubs have been out during weeks 3 and 4 packing in the water bars and removing the pesky blow downs that seem to multiply each time the volunteers turn around but that has been about it. We are halfway through January and the total mileage logged by the VAST grooming fleet to date is 1171.8 miles. The grooming fleet typically grooms over 140000 miles in a season. There is still time so dont let this statistic get you down. I am sure that this number will grow in the coming weeks and you will be planning another ride in great snow conditions by the time you read this. Right now smack dab in the middle of January it appears as if we are only one storm away from opening things up. We will wait and see what Mother Nature has in store for us. Even though there has not been much grooming yet this season we can talk briefly about how much grooming has changed in the last 47 years. Most clubs started out with an old single cylinder sled that cost a couple hundred dollars with homemade drags like the one shown in the corresponding photo. Club members used their ingenuity to piece together a drag with whatever materials they had lying around from prior projects. The drag was hooked to the sled with a rope and Viola There was a drag The machines traveled at 30 miles per hour or less in most instances and there were few riders so these drags worked well and kept the trails in good shape for the bogie wheelleaf spring suspensions of the time. Over time machines changed significantly along with the number of riders and to keep pace so did the grooming equipment. Drags were made from steel with stiff hitches and multiple cutting blades that tripped when they caught a rock or other solid objects hidden beneath the snow. Power units evolved from small single cylinder snowmobiles to Bombis LMCs and other larger more expensive bulldozer like equipment. In the last 15 years we have evolved even more into the over 175 horsepower diesel driven 250000 pieces of equipment that we now use along our trail system in most areas of the state. These machines are set up with just about anything a person could want in terms of comfort and capability to leave a smooth trail behind. Drags now typically have six to eight spring loaded cutting blades and cost on average between 18000 and 21000. They are steel masterpieces with hydraulic pistons and even vibrating heated packing pans with shiny diamond plate tool boxes and LED lights. Even though they are higher priced and have more options on them than they used to the principal behind their design is still very similar to the first drags that were built using old 2x4s and steel bands off from the lumber stack as cutting edges. It is proof that the pioneers of snowmobiling truly knew what they were doing and as a result have influenced the way we do things now even more than 40 years later. For those who wonder where their TMA dollars go that shiny piece of metal you see out on the trails is one of the main places the funding from your TMAs goes. VAST Grant-in- Aid monies helped to purchase three brand new power units and one used power unit this season along with four new drags and one used drag. Additionally the funds helped to repair six power units so they could be out on the trail working properly and doing what they do best. In addition to helping with the purchase and repairs of the equipment VAST pays the groomers a per mile rate for each mile that they groom. The Yet another example that proves the pioneers of snowmobiling knew what they were doing. This photo is of aFrenchiedrag which was designed and fabricated by Frenchie Gauthier a prominent snowmobiling pioneer from Windsor County. Many of his drags are still used to this day to groom VAST trails. This particular drag is believed to be the last one that Frenchie built before he passed away. Thanks to Richard Wright and Mary Hutchins of the Hurricane Riders for sharing this photo by Matt Tetreault VAST Trails Administrator