The Eastman SnoPals snowmobile club grooms 300 km of snowmobile trails stretching from Red Deer (Great Falls area) in the north, Elma to the south, Seddon's Corner to the west and Pinawa in the east.
And they fear there might not be any snowmobiling for anyone this winter if they can't get some help cleaning up after the recent snowstorm damage that attacked the region.
"We're pleading with the people who use our trails to come out and help us," says club volunteer Wally Sokoliuk.
The damage inflicted on the trails by the recent heavy snow that fell at the stat of October has been major. There's trees and tree branches down everywhere, and there's no way the groomer will get through to make the trails suitable for snowmobile use.
To add insult to injury, the club only has six volunteers. The SnoPals did almost 5,000 km worth of grooming last season. Considering their groomer travels 10 km/h, that's nearly 500 hours worth of unpaid grooming.
But the groomer won't help clean up the broken trees. They have to be cleared by hand so the groomer can get through.
"Six people cleaning up hundreds of kilometres of trails by hand just isn't going to happen," Sokoliuk says. "We worked for eight hours yesterday and only cleared 23 km of trail."
The SnoPals' trails connect with trails maintained by neighbouring clubs and are part of the provincial trail network overseen by Snoman, the provincial snowmobiling association. Sokoliuk estimates that 60 per cent of the SnoPals' trails are affected by the storm damage.
The SnoPALS have always been safety-oriented with hundreds of kilometres of trails cleared, signed and groomed annually. The trails range from a nice flowing ride through a pine forest in the Canadian Shield to a straight line over an old rail bed through swampy and sandy pastureland.
Every season, the all-volunteer crews clear debris and fallen trees off of the trails to allow for signage and movement once the snow falls.
The trails are open anytime to allow snowmobilers to stop and rest, build a fire and enjoy a quick meal on the trail or warm up in the club's warm-up shelter.
But the damage done by the recent storm is so severe, that may all be at risk this season if they can't find people to help.
"Our few volunteers put in so much work each year, and finding help from the people who actually use the trails is always a challenge," Sokoliuk says.
He's hoping avid trail users will find it in their hearts (and schedules) to come out over the next couple of weeks and help in the effort. Sokoliuk notes that with November just around the corner, the snow is almost here. Helper won't be expected to volunteer themselves – the SnoPals plan to pay whoever comes out.
Anyone interested in helping can call Sokoliuk at 345-9664.