Grand Lake: Volunteer group keeps Grand Lake as ‘Snowmobile Capital of Colorado’ | SkyHiNews.com

Grand Lake: Volunteer group keeps Grand Lake as ‘Snowmobile Capital of Colorado’

Tonya Bina
Sky-Hi Daily News

Many credit the nonprofit organization Grand Lake Trailgrooming, Inc. for helping put Grand Lake on the sled-head map.

After all, Grand Lake wouldn’t be the “Snowmobile Capital of Colorado” if it weren’t for an elaborate U.S. Forest trail system, smoothly groomed and ready to go, right out the town’s back door.

Grand Lake Trailgrooming was loosely established 30 years ago and still exists today through the dedication of volunteers, snowmobile-supporting visitors and village folk.

Depending on the number of machines and the present-day snow conditions, it takes about 8 to 16 hours working well into the wee hours of the night to groom trails, according to Ami Frutchey, president of the organization.

Groomers make the sledding surface smooth-shaven from town to forest, earning the Grand Lake area some of the best snowmobiling terrain in the nation. This is a feat, considering the amount of use these popular trails see throughout the winter.

For two consecutive years, Snowest magazine rated the Grand Lake-area trail system one of the top 15 in the country, and because of the terrain, Grand Lake has been chosen two years in a row to be the host of Snow Shoot, a major manufacturer’s media event that takes place in early March.

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The nocturnal breed of trailgroomer is made of survivors.

“Sometimes it gets complicated with two tons of equipment, tight trails and inclement weather. It’s the last place anyone would want to be alone,” said Cam Stone, trailgrooming supervisor.

Frutchey has nothing but appreciation for those who operate the machines.

“These are very brave employees out bearing the elements all not long, sometimes getting stuck at odd hours on the trail, unable to find a cell phone signal to contact another human,” she said.

When the winter comes to an end, so do the groomers relinquish their machines.

But the trailgrooming organization continues well into the summer fundraising for the first snowfall expected months ahead.

Trailgrooming has a minimum $95,000 annual operations budget that includes fuel, maintenance, electricity and a handful of paid groomers. Because the organization is completely nonprofit, the groomer group must rely solely on grants and donations; thus are the little jars located at popular Grand Lake establishments boasting trail work.

The organization is also responsible for the annual trail maps provided to each business and paid for by sponsors.

The trailgroomers have a ten-person board of volunteers with Frutchey, vice president Steve Armstead, secretary Tonie Campbell and new treasurer Max Ludwig. The groomers hold their meetings once a month at the Grand Lake Firehouse on the third Thursday of the month.

These behind-the-scenes facilitators of safe and happy snowmobiling have nothing to gain for their volunteerism, just the love of the sport and the ability to provide and maintain safe, smooth, well-mapped trails for families and snowmobile enthusiast to enjoy.

” Tonya Bina can be reached at 887-3334 ext. 19603 or e-mail tbina@grandcountynews.com.

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