The Byron Snow Bears club get ready to ride in northern Minnesota. Below, grooming the trails. There are 45 miles of local trails that the club and DNR put up signage in the fall and take down in the spring.
By David Richards
For four decades, Byron's Snow Bears have been blazing through the area's snowmobile trails, organizing field trips and spending hours and hours maintaining and grooming the local facilities.
The snowmobile club, through fundraisers and the Department of Natural Resources, puts in signage throughout the town's 45 miles of trails each fall, and takes it down each spring.
"It's a lot of work," said Jim Miesbauer, lead trail administrator who's been with the club for roughly 26 years. "Especially with a year like this year and last year."
While snowmobiles technically only need enough snow for lubrication, the snow from the past few weeks is sufficient for instance, enthusiasts of the sport would prefer a much deeper base.
As a result, some Byron Snow Bears are organizing mini trips up north instead of the larger in town group trips they take when the snow is more measurable.
Miesbauer just returned from a trip in the upper peninsula, where the snow averages 400 inches per year. Southeastern Minnesota averages around 45 to 50.
"We had three days of good riding in three to four feet of snow," Miesbauer said. "And it was still snowing."
Miesbauer owns a 2011 black and white Skidoo he uses and said he hopes conditions in the future get back to where they were in the 2010-2011 season when the Snow Bears were practically grooming the trails weekly all winter. For this season, they've groomed them twice.
"When the snow is good, you get a lot more members," he said.
There are roughly 55 families in the club right now. Annual fees are $30, which includes a membership in the state snowmobiling association.
For folks like Miesbauer, snowmobiling is simply a way to do something during the winter.
"I enjoy getting out into the outdoors and being with people who have the same interests as me," he said
For more information, visit, www.byronsnowbears.com.