Wednesday, February 08, 2017


Snowmobiles ("snow machines" in VT) are kind of dumb little contraptions.  They're designed to move by just dragging themselves around.  The dumbness of this becomes exceptionally apparent when you look at one parked on the grass in summer; the light in which it looks most like a completely useless waste of money.  Thing sittin' there on the ground like that with no wheels.  Even a roto-tiller's got wheels.

Even in their own element snow machines are still, for the most part, two-strokes that produce an impressive amount of smoke, noise, and smell.  They require a pretty large dosage of whiny RPM just to get them moving.  They don't turn at slow speeds.  Most don't have reverse.

But... holy crap are they fun.

I haven't done it since the late 80's, and what I remember (besides trying to break land speed records - those dumb snow machines DO fly) is that when you slow down and just take it easy, they are also a great way to explore the great winter outdoors, which is sometimes pretty spectacular.

Not my photo

There's a whole network of snow trails, complete with wooden bridges (sometimes even suspension bridges), and small clearings deep in the woods that most would never know existed if they hadn't found them on a snow machine.  It's a lot of fun to head 15 miles out in some direction, switch off the machine, enjoy the silence and grab yourself a lung full of some of that refreshing, dense cool winter air.  Out in the woods, the snow cover deadens the sound, and with no leaves on the trees, wind noise is often undetected.  It's a unique kind of quiet.  Added bonus: you've brought with you a very comfy bench seat on which you can relax.  And, your snow machine holds lots of snacks.  This could go well.
Not my photo. No one I know.

Also to be found out there is the camaraderie of other snowmobilers, sometimes stopped in a wide spot on the trail just to chat, or enjoying a planned bonfire / cookout / ride-in, or just waving as they pass.  It's a scene, man.  And a friendly one at that.

Not my photo. Only accessible by trail.

And I'm long since out of it, but I decided I wanted to get a little taste again, and I thought it might be something both me and The Wife could enjoy.  We rented a 2-up sled for a 2-hour guided tour last weekend, and you know... it was pretty good.

It was enough to get me to wonder if one of these would be worth staring at in the summer.

No comments: