The snowmobile season is slowly beginning

The snowmobile season is slowly beginning

While some rare spots have been spared Mother Nature’s mood swings, most Quebec snowmobile clubs are impatiently awaiting the cold weather and snowfall to kick off the 2022-2023 season for good.

• Also read: Snow sports are going down the drain

Rain, sleet and high winds since December 23rd spoil the fun when only 20% of the province’s 33,000km of trails are currently open.

“We’re not worried. Normally the season officially starts at our open doors on January 14th and 15th. But of course the weather didn’t help,” said Stéphane Desroches, General Manager of the Fédération des Clubs de Motoneigistes du Québec (FCMQ).

The workers and volunteers had very nasty surprises last week when hundreds of trees fell and blocked the passage. A situation that further delays the start of the season.

Paths closed to snowmobiles

Photo courtesy of Club Motoneige de la Jacques-Cartier

“You drive 100 kilometers with the tillage machine and come across about twenty fallen trees. If you don’t have the equipment, you have to come back with two or three partners, it’s a colossal job that our volunteers do,” he says proudly.

With some colder weather and snow, Mr. Desroches is confident that 80% of the trails will be accessible by mid-January.

Rocky beginnings

Hoteliers who make a living from the snowmobile industry in winter are beginning to get on their nerves with the weather changes.

At the Hôtel Universel in Rivière-du-Loup in Bas-Saint-Laurent, it is not the start of the season that Vice President Joanna Lortie expected.

Paths closed to snowmobiles

Photo from Club Sportif du Bas-Saint-Laurent

“There is no more snow,” she says. The start was good, but in the rain and thaw he is in the water. »

In Lanaudière, snowmobilers rejoiced a little too quickly when they saw about sixty centimeters of snow fall in Saint-Michel-des-Saints on Christmas Eve.

Rain and very hot temperatures ruined the New Year’s weekend party.

“We, the trails opened on December 26th after the storm and there trails are currently closed, but we still do guided tours for French clients,” confirms Francis Bouwmeester, General Manager of Auberge du Lac Taureau.

During this period in La Tuque, the abundant snow delights several accommodations.

Paths closed to snowmobiles

Photo courtesy of Club Motoneige de la Jacques-Cartier

Such is the case of the owner of the Relais 22 Milles, Christine Reis, who took advantage of the 60 centimeters of snow that fell last week.

“We’re on the second shoveling of the roof,” she jokes, to illustrate the enviable situation for snowmobilers.

In addition, the FCMQ confirms that in certain sectors such as La Tuque and Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean, 60% of the trails are already open to customers.

Returning Europeans

Despite a bumpy start to the season, stakeholders agree that the prospects for the current season are excellent.

After two years marked by the pandemic, the strong comeback of foreign tourists in the industry is already being welcomed.

“What is certain is that the clientele from Europe has been practically zero for two years. With Americans, we had about 10% of the usual clientele and this year we are already starting to have a lot of reservations,” notes Ms. Reis of Relais 22 Milles.

The same observation at the Auberge du Lac Taureau. “Last year on December 31st the dining rooms were closed. The borders were not closed, but one was unattractive. This year, for French customers, we are at 80% of the 2019 figures,” recalls the manager of the establishment.

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