|Canadarago Snowtoppers, Corridor Custodians
When I met with Brad Smith, multi-termed past president of the Canadarago Snowtoppers, I became aware that this club had its beginning about 45 years ago and has undergone tremendous change in the sport. What started out as a group of hardy enthusiasts sprinting about over drifts on little sleds with one cylinder and a pocket of spare spark plugs, to what it is today.
The sport is a far cry from Monty Smith’s antics as the “Red Baron” at the Richfield Springs Game Club races and Bob Moshier “putsying” around his trap line on his pond, to the two Piston Bully groomers currently owned by the Snowtoppers. The club has purchased two tracked grooming machines, one an 8’ and the other a 10’ wide machine, that currently tend their hub of trails. The Club was incorporated in 1970 and has been growing ever since, with over 600 members and having been selected as the 2004 New York State Snowmobile Club of the Year.
Gary Southard is one of the SnowTopper volunteers who takes the time to groom more than 90 miles of trails used by snowmobilers. (Photo by Larry Budro)
Thanks are due for the assistance granted by the NYS Snowmobile Association and the state funding of trail maintenance, interlinking clubs’ work within established standards to assure safety and pleasure for the thousands of riders today.
Riders from as far away as Albany and Rochester come to the Snowtopper Clubhouse to partake of local trails and improve our economy.
Brad explained that even though the many club volunteers take an active part in trail preparation, signage and grooming, the trails are ever changing due to weather. He remarked that even though New York State recommends strict guidelines for consistent signage, that periodically signs become damaged, vandalized or knocked down and that the frozen ground can hamper replacement. The many signs are all purchased through club finances and both grants and bank loans have been used to purchase major pieces of equipment. A state master liability policy provided to each club protects the Canadarago Snowtoppers and land owners from liability. The Snowtoppers list as collateral not only the groomers but their clubhouse and its land on Butternut Road.
Several members currently are certified to pilot the groomers, after attending special schools for such operation under NYSSA rules. Among them are Tom LaBruzzo, Bob Pross, Gary Southard, and Tim and Larry Winslow. They all volunteer their extensive hours to do the nearly 90 miles of trails when conditions require connecting to those groomed by Sharon Pathfinders, Exeter Trailblazers, Ilion Snowdrifters and Palatine Forest Preserve users.
Groomers are required to carry cell phones, a first aid kit, and a camera of choice to record specific events. The State is promoting the use of GPS receivers that contain topographical maps, such as deLorme, and is aiming at marking each corridor and secondary trail, as well as the trail intersections, by latitude-longitude. This type of technology will further enhance safety issues and shorten response time should accidents occur. Thus, the trail system will be incorporated into the NYS GIS system for greater accuracy in reported mileage.
It was my intention to ride with one of the groomers, as I had previously with Bob Hugick of the Exeter Trailblazers, but the sudden thaw has presently closed the trails. It was fortunate that Larry Budro had recently ridden with Gary Southard and taken photos using his famed Nikon camera, and that he agreed to provide his pictures for this article. So, despite what lies ahead with Mother Nature, we can bring to the readership this important contribution made possible by our snowmobiling enthusiasts who foster winter enjoyment and thus improve our local economy.
For further information please visit the Canadarago Snowtopper’s website at www.snowtoppers.org.
Terry Crandall is a retired principal formerly with Richfield Springs Central School.