Lodge – Grand Lake Trail Groomers
January 21, 2010
Ami Frutchey arrived to her wedding at On the Trail in Grand Lake last year on a 1996 Bombardier B275 snowcat.
In the year that has passed since her wedding, Ami, President of the Grand Lake Trail Groomers, submitted and was awarded a grant to assist with the cost of a new groomer. The groomer arrived a few weeks ago; a 2004 Bombardier 350 with 520 hours on it. The Trail Groomers organization applied for this grant from the Colorado State Park with help from Colorado Snowmobile Association (CSA). Colorado State Parks get funding for all their grants through registration fees. The money the Trail Groomers receive from grants and sponsors helps with groomer wages, snowcat maintenance, fuel, insurance, signage, and trail map printing.
I met Ami and Cam Stone at the groomers building in Idleglen on County Road 4 in Grand Lake to check out the new snowcat and find out what the trail groomers do during the winter.
As President of the Grand Lake Trail Groomers, Ami organizes board meetings and researches grant opportunities to support the nonprofit organization. Cam is Trail Boss. This means he takes care of signage, schedules the groomers, takes care of the fleet of snowcats, and maintains the building that the Forest Service lets them use. Additionally, he grooms the trails at night and you could say, he is a wildlife observer.
While driving the snow cat from 4:30 p.m. to 2 a.m., Cam has seen plenty of wildlife, including moose locking horns and some even trot alongside the groomer until they can run off trail. He has watched moose walk right up to the machine and has seen coyotes, fox, snowshoe hare and just recently an ermine.
Other responsibilities of the night time groomers include assisting snowmobile rental companies if a party is lost. All night groomers carry a sheriff’s radio and will assist in rescues, if needed.
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Another safety feature the organization provides during the busy winter holiday weekends are Trail Hosts. You can spot these volunteer hosts by their yellow vests as they provide information and assistance to anyone riding the Grand Lake trails.
The Grand Lake Trail Groomers groom more hours than other clubs in the state. And while Grand Lake’s trail system is not as expansive as some other snowmobile mecca’s, they groom more hours on their trails due to the sheer number of visitors who come to Grand Lake from Denver and the Front Range.
You can view the video of the Trail Boss backing out the newest snow grooming machine at: http://www.tinyurl.com/yfxh3dd.
Cam drove the 1996 Bombardier that brought Ami safely to her wedding last year. These two Grand Lake residents are surely passionate about the trails in Grand Lake and spend their time keeping it safe and accessible for locals and visitors. A year ago, I watched Ami Mitropoulos ride off into the sunset with her new husband, Greg, on a 2006 Yamaha Apex snowmobile. I’m sure they are having many outdoor adventures on the finely groomed snowmobile trails in Grand Lake and in the powder stashes in the meadows. Pick up a Grand Lake Snowmobile trail map in Grand Lake Village to find the best trails; groomed and ungroomed.
Next Friday I will answer Question # 4 from the Bioregional Quiz: (see Outdoor Adventures column Jan. 1, 2010) When was the last time a fire burned in your area? Stay tuned.