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Edition # 1 2010        
By R.D.Smith AKA "Smitty"
 

    Back again to tell you about the many things that are happening concerning the Baxter Snow Riders. Let's start with our ever continuing saga of setting up camp somewhere. Anywhere. We still are homeless this year. We have looked tirelessly into a location for a new clubhouse, but as of this date, nothing. We did come very close a couple of times but because of logistics, it just wasn't possible.

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                                                                 Port Severn

   The town of Port Severn has undergone some major changes. A new housing development has opened it's first phase, in total there will be approx. 450 homes. Maybe they will buy trail passes? Other homes are in the works throughout the area. Along with these new homes, Port Severn has been working on a Master Plan which includes new parks, walking trails, welcome centers etc. One of our trails, Trail 16, [this is the one that goes from Honey Harbour Rd north to Macy Bay] is going to be gobbled up by one of these new trails, a non-motorized trail. The property that this is on is township property. This means that snowmobiles will no longer be allowed here. We will try to keep it open if we can for this season, but because work has already begun, we can't guarantee anything right now. However, the Township of Georgian Bay is not going to just kick us to the curb like yesterday's news. They have been more than co-operative with us and allowing us to build a sled trail that will run alongside this new one. It will be for snowmobiles in the winter and ATV's in the summer. A barrier of trees, bushes, stones, benches, etc. will keep the two separate. The Baxter Snow Riders would like to thank Township of Georgian Bay Mayor Jim Walden and his staff, who include Manager of Parks Kevin Datema and Brenda Black of the Treasury Dept. for assisting us with this project.

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                                                                  Swing Bridge.

   We have another big obstacle facing us. The swing bridge at Lock 45 has been left open all summer long up until now. This because it is structurally unsafe in the open position. Engineers are concerned that the constant pressure put on it during opening and closing, might cause it to buckle and collapse. We have been told that it will close for the winter allowing sleds to go over it once again. If not, we are cut off from heading south to Coldwater unless we cross the ice. Something we don't want to recommend. Can't take the groomer over ice anyway.

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                                                                    Driver Training.

   Once again, Eleanor Pettit will be conducting her driver training courses. The first will be on November 29. The second will be December 5. Both to be held at the Municipal Office at 99 Lone Pine Rd. Class time is 8a.m. to 4 p.m. Call 705-756-8906 for details. Like I said before, Eleanor works hard at this. The kiddies learn a lot from it and classes fill up fast. Thanks again to the Township of Georgian Bay for allowing us to use the building.

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                                                                     Trail work.

   We have been out during the fall checking where work has to be done. Recent storms in October have dropped some trees that needed to be cleared out of the way. We also have been working on some of the deep holes left by the ATV's. The Baxter ATV club will always assist us with trail work. Where we have big messes, is along places like Trail 16 that I mentioned above. The quads dig deep holes in the muck, which are difficult to fix because there is nowhere for it to drain. The Baxter ATV club does not use this trail. It is used by rogue riders that are not connected to the club so it is hard to police who is on it. A lot of it runs through private property so it is the landowner who has to tell them they can't use it. We will try our best to keep things up to snuff. If you have any spare time, and would like to help, please go to our website at www.baxtersnowriders.com You can join up and talk about your concerns on our public forum.

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                                                                      Groomer

   Oh, our poor sick groomer. It is getting very old and parts are hard to come by now because the manufacturer no longer makes them. We would like to thank Don Martin and his gang at the S.M.A.R.T. club. They have been storing our groomer in their clubhouse since last year. They always have worked closely with us, as we have with them over the years to make sure that we are all up and riding. And while we are on the subject of grooming, The Baxter Snow Riders would like to welcome our new groomer operator Dan Cross, who will be our top guy this year. Also on board to help with grooming will be Phil Langley and Chris Wood from Village Marina in Honey Harbour. We couldn't do it without these guys.

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                                                                       And finally... 

  We have to thank our sponsors and supporters. Our land owners and volunteers. To mention them all would take up a lot of time. They know who they are. They know how important they are. Thank you to everyone concerned. See y'all soon. Port Severn/Honey Harbour awaits.

 

2008/09 Club News

 Edition # 3 2009        
By R.D.Smith AKA "Smitty"
 

Today it is Jan 30. Once again we have heavy streamers coming off the bay, which so far has added another 6" on top of the 14" we received earlier in the week. Our snow totals thus far are way ahead of this time last year. 127" compared to 89" this date last year. The marshes and swamps finally froze up enough a couple of weeks back so that the groomer could get out and first pack them down and later to groom them properly. Our groomer also took another beating this year with several mechanical glitches. However, thanks to our many volunteers, who many times were standing out in the cold hanging on to cold steel tools, managed to make the down time as short as possible. I'm sure once the grooming hours are totalled for the year, it will be a lot more than last year. We erected four sign boards throughout our trails. They will have trail maps, with a "you are here" arrow, upcoming events, and local supporters listed on them.                                                                  

                                                       Water levels                                                               

   Our lakes here are quite unique. Six Mile Lake and Gloucester Pool are controlled waterways. That is, the lake levels are controlled by OPG, Ontario Power Generation. When the power station at Big Chute reaches it's max capacity for the turbines, they divert the excess water down through us. This means that the level goes up and down over a foot. When this happens, cracks open up allowing the water to seep up over the ice. The thick snow cover acts as a blanket and keeps it from freezing. Unfortunately, this causes terrible slush conditions, and makes travel a complete disaster if you venture off the staked trails. We can't drag the portages as often as we like because the drag gets hung up in the slush and becomes very heavy. The stakes on the "Pool" were late this year because of that same reason. All part of the game.                                                                    

                                                           Driver training

   Once again, Eleanor Petitt put the kids through another set of her fun and informative driver training courses. If you have young 'uns, and want them to learn how to ride safely, you really should get them involved. Kind of like taking golf lessons before you pick up a club. Thanks again Eleanor for a job well done.                                                                      

                                                                Website                                                                      

   We are moving along quite well with our website www.baxtersnowriders.com Many people have joined our discussion group and we get a lot of good comments and constructive criticism. We try as best as possible to keep everybody informed and happy. But like everything else in life, you can't please them all. Please become a member and get involved. You don't have to use your name, just make up some handle that can be used by you to post comments, pics, upcoming rides etc.                                                                        

                                                                Supporters                                                                         

    We are constantly looking for sponsors and supporters and are pleased to announce a couple of more to the list. The first is Phil from Village Marina in Honey Harbour. He sells gas which is good for those either heading out on the bay, or returning. They are behind another of our supporters, Honey Harbour Towne Centre, where you can buy groceries, hardware, rent movies, and buy snacks. It is on Trail 19.  By the time you read this, our cookout will have already happened at Phil's. Thank you for allowing us the use of your property. Another supporter is Riverhouse Waterfront Dining. Excellent food on Trail 105 in Severn Falls. Call Victoria at 705-686-7850. Finally we would like to thank Hap and Shirley of Sunnylea Resort. They have several winterized cabins and are in the perfect location. Right on Trail C and halfway between the gas station and the liquor store. Life is good. Call them at 705-538-2527. Their support is greatly appreciated.                                                                         

                                                              Gerry Ward                                                                       

   Those of you in the Honey Harbour area are familiar with the ubiquitous Gerry Ward. He is one of those behind the scenes guys that you never see or hear, but is always present. When things need repair, Gerry is there. When trail work needed doing, Gerry was there. Setting up for dinners, setting up tables and fencing, sign work, Gerry was there. However after many, many, dedicated years of volunteering his time and efforts to this club, Gerry has decided to call it a day. He wants to be a rider for a change, instead working on the trails, he's going to take advantage of them. You see, many of these guys have been around since lint was invented. They are the ones who bust their knuckles on the machinery, get the phone calls at 3 in the morning to rescue the groomer, or pull a machine out of the mush. After a while, it starts to wear on you. Thank you Mr. Ward, for all the years you have put into this club so all can enjoy this wonderful past time.                                                                           

                                                               Volunteers                                                                        

   We have a couple of others who have also decided to lay back. One is Andy Scobie, who is a trail boss and runs the groomer. He too, is one of the go-to guys when things go sour. He has spent many a cold lonely night by himself grooming trails until sun up the next morning. He has also been around for many years but still has a regular job and finds it tough to juggle both at the same time. Thank you to Andy. Another one of our groomers is Terry Madore. He too has announced his desire to retire. However, thankfully he said he won't leave us stranded. He will stay until we get a volunteer to replace him. Which means, he'll still be around for a while! Don Hayhurst is yet one more of our elder statesmen. He is always out doing trail work, signage, staking the lakes etc. He's not quitting, he's just a nice guy, so I thought that I would mention him.                                                                          

                                                               MOTHER NATURE!!!

   You know, I hate to harp on the same old thing, but sometimes Old Smit gets a little irritated with some of the talk that gets back to us. Often when I go to town and talk to the merchants, they tell me how some people say that the Baxter trails are always horrible and how they say that they will never buy their trail passes through Baxter again. I've even had people tell me about trails that they claim we do a lousy job on that weren't even our trails! There are several factors that are beyond our control. Weather is one of them. You see, when the ATV's are out in the off season, and running the trails, they run over what was once a small rivulet. As each one passes over, that little rivulet gets wider and deeper until eventually it gets to be about 15 feet wide, and three or four feet deep. So you ask why do we allow them on the trails? Many of the trails are multi use trails, meaning that they are open to ATV's, snowmobiles, bicycles, whatever. There is nothing that we can do to stop this. Nothing. There are also swamps that have to freeze up before we can groom the trails. At the bottom of all this slop lies organic material. Grass, leaves, roots, etc. They are in a state of constant decay and as they decay, the liquid heats up slightly, much the same as a septic tank. Always turning, always active. Until these areas freeze up, we cannot safely get the groomer to pass over them. If you look back to the last issue of this magazine, you will see how sleds have disappeared through this slop when we try to pack them down. It ain't comfortable girls and boys. I know, because I myself got stuck in the early winter in slush up over my boots and it took three of us over an hour to get me out. This isn't like going to St. Mike's and after the first intermission, when you come back out of the dressing room, you have a nice new playing surface. These are elements beyond our control! We don't have a magic button we can push to freeze things up in time for your weekend ride. We have to be patient to ensure that all riders can ride safely. Those who threaten to buy through another club, take time to go through the articles from other clubs in this magazine. Look for a club that has perfect conditions and opens up early every year. Look for one that has a groomer that never breaks down. Look for one that doesn't have late freeze-ups. I'll save you the time. There isn't one. We all want to get out on the trails. That's why we volunteer. And I'll be honest with you. I felt the same way before I became involved. I too considered buying elsewhere, but until I saw how things really worked, I thought just like you. We would love to get a new groomer. Ours is pushing ten years old. Out of the $180 you shell out for a permit, we only get a small portion of that. The MSR controls the money and where it goes. I didn't know this until I joined the club. Like I said before, constructive criticism is always welcome. But you have to realize that there may be more to the story than you think. Please keep these things in mind. It is vitally important that you buy where you ride.                                                                   

                                                           In closing                                                                    

   This is the last issue for this magazine for the year. I've enjoyed getting out there and meeting new people. I've enjoyed writing these articles, and I've enjoyed riding these trails. A definite stress reliever. As far as I'm concerned, our trails right now are the best they have ever been. Hopefully our season will last for some time. Who the hell cares what that rat in Wiarton says. Please be good. And as always, please ride safe.

 

Edition # 2 2009        
By R.D.Smith AKA "Smitty"

Today as I'm writing this, the date is Jan 2. And as you know, we've had a real up and down weather pattern so far. We have had over 7 feet of snowfall to this point. Trouble is last week we had 3" of pounding rains and 60 mph winds. Phone and power lines were cut off yet again and even more trees were blown down. You wouldn't think after all the storms that we've had, that there would be any more trees to blow down but apparently there were. We were able to get in the bush with the ATV's in the late fall to clean up a lot of the brush, but now we may have to do it again. At this point we don't know yet. The trails are just too sloppy to get in and check. Many of us went in three separate groups back in December to finish clearing up the trails. One group left along with the groomer and went from Port Severn to Coldwater. Another from the Provincial Park to Gibson Lake. The third from the top of Six Mile and over to the "monument." Every group encountered the same problem. Deep, deep snow and deep, deep, mud and slush puddles. Myself and several others got bogged down in this slop and it took over an hour to get out. The mud was over our knees and filled our boots. Until these muddy areas freeze, there is no way that the trails will open. The run off continues today under the snow. Culverts and streams are draining into the lakes. Six Mile Lake and Gloucester Pool levels are high now and should drop another 1 1/2 feet to winter levels. The shorelines remain slushy and very dangerous at this time.

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                                                                         Groomer work

   Back in November, a number of us volunteered our time to work on our Groomer to replace the rubber belt that runs under the track. You will see in this picture how we had to break the track at one of the joints.

 In the below picture you can see the steel cross members or "grousers" that grip the snow just the same as the track on your sled. Each grouser was held in place by three nuts and bolts that go through the rubber track, which we replaced, and were held on the back side with a corresponding steel plate. There were approx 70 grousers per side along with three nuts and bolts. That means we had to remove 420 nuts and bolts by hand.

 The generator we  were using couldn't provide enough back bone for our air tools to break the rust that held them together all these years. Lots of skinned knuckles and sore muscles, we finally finished our job. Many thanks to the S.M.A.R.T. club for allowing us to use their clubhouse to do this. That week it poured rain and to do it outside would have been uncomfortable. Oh yeah, we're still homeless and it appears as though we will be for the rest of this year anyway.

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                                                                        Driver training

   Once again, as in previous years, Eleanor Pettit conducted driver training courses for the young ones. And, as always, the course was full again. Many thanks to Eleanor for all of the time that she puts into this. It is a very worth while class and the kids learn a lot about this sport.

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                                                                            Website

   I am pleased to announce that the Baxter Snow Riders now has a brand new website. It is in it's early stages, and there are a few kinks still to work out, but it is up and running. Please go to www.baxtersnowriders.com and give it a look. There is a forum that you can log on to and get involved in the many discussions that talk about weather, trail conditions, sled talk, etc. There is a live web cam from the Delawana Inn in Honey Harbour that also gives up to date weather stats. Please become a member of this forum and get involved.

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                                                                           Volunteers

   Again, volunteers are the backbone of not only this club, but every club in the OFSC. Many hours are spent in the off season working on equipment and planning outings for trail and sign work. When many of you are sitting in the city and wondering what is going on up here, you can bet at the same time that somebody is doing something to make needed improvements. This is all done so that everybody can enjoy themselves on their time up here. If you have time or want to know how you can help, please check our website. Something is usually happening that you can contribute to.

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                                                                           Land owners

   Thank you to all the landowners that allow us access to their properties. It may sound like a broken record, but without their co-operation, some of these trails would be non-existent. Please stay on the marked trails. Please don't go on the trails unless they are open. When you travel on unopened trails, you are trespassing.

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                                                                    Sponsor Thank You's

   We have to thank other people who have given us their support or become a sponsor. They include the following:

Sunnylea Resort

The Bulletin/Gazette of Honey Harbour

The Chuckler of Moonstone

Muskey's Resort Waubaushene

Team Power Sports Waubaushene

Indy Graphics of Maple

The Delawana Inn

H&S Amco, formerly H&S Shell Port Severn

Rawley Resort

Steve [Website Support]

Ken [Email Assistance]

The Corporation of the Township of Georgian Bay

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   Hopefully we will be out on the trails soon. Some things we have no control over. Weather, old age, and gravity take whatever course they decide to do on their own. We can only sit back and wait. Once again, please be safe.

Edition # 1 2009
By R.D.Smith AKA "Smitty"

 

   Well, I must have done a good job last year because they asked me to write these columns again. And since last year there have been a few changes. Unfortunately, they aren't all good.

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.                                                                            Clubhouse

   Last year we were forced out of our clubhouse because the land that it sits on had been sold. We moved our equipment everywhere in Port Severn and Honey Harbour that had any available space. The hope was that by this year, we would have a new building to call our own. But, because of cutbacks, we were unable to get the cash needed to do so. This is going to be a never ending theme this season, not only for us, but every club in the O.F.S.C. The price of fuel, insurance, maintenance, etc. is taking it's toll. Even the November issue of this magazine was cancelled because not enough advertising space was sold for the publication. One piece of good news is that we have made an arrangement with the Corporation of the Township of Georgian Bay that allows us to use there facilities. They are letting us use the Public Works storage yard and it's heated building one day a week to do the necessary repairs on our groomer and other equipment. We can also use council chambers to conduct driver education courses for the kids. This I will outline later. Many thanks to the Township of Georgian Bay staff who made this all possible. Without them, we would be in a terrible bind.

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                                                                     Driver Education Course                                                        .

   Once again the BSR is holding driver education courses for kids ages 12 - 16. Also once again, Eleanor Pettit has agreed to teach the class. There will be no class for November. Why? Because people feel that there is no need for a class on snowmobiling when there is no snow present. Be careful what you ask for. Other classes will be as follows:

Dec 13. 8am to 4pm

Jan 10.  8am to 4pm

A change in location as mentioned above. This year they will be held at the Township of Georgian Bay municipal office. 99 Lone Pine RD in Port Severn. Contact Eleanor at 705 756 8906 for any additional info. She puts a lot of her own time and effort into this. Please take the time to enroll your kids. This is a very worthwhile course.

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.                                                                              Groomer

   Our groomer has undergone $7,000.00 worth of repairs in the off season. Last year it worked on the trails close to 400 hours. 396 to be exact. The smaller sleds and drags also spent many ours grooming the portages and narrower sections that aren't accessible to the bigger machine. As you know, last year our trail system was exceptional. I would like to personally take credit for it, but was just one of those perfect seasons when everything worked out right. By the time you read this, the ATV's will have already gone through and cleared the trails of any trees or debris that may have fallen on them. They also went and repaired any missing or damaged signs as well as bridges and fences. You see, snowmobiling is more than driving up on Friday night and hitting the trails. While you are in the city wondering what it's like here, many of us are volunteering our time, tools, expenses, etc. to ensure that when you come here for the weekend, the trails are smooth and safe. And no, we don't get free trail permits, no we don't get free gas. We give up a lot of personal time to ensure that everybody can enjoy this sport. The B.S.R. no longer has a phone number. Somehow, Bell Canada couldn't get another line into our new president's home?

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.                                                                                It's time

   By now, you have gone out to the garage. You've taken all the garden tools and hockey sticks off the sled and checked the battery, fluid levels, and placed your trail permit [still $180] on the windshield. And don't forget to put your vehicle validation sticker on the side as well as on your ownership. Our friends in blue will be watching for them. To all our landowners who allow us to cross their property. Thank you very much for your contribution. To our sponsors, permit sellers and volunteers we also thank you. It's a sad week for me. I have to empty out the bass boat and get ready to put it away. Didn't break any records this year anyway. Please be safe and we'll see each other soon.

 

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