One of the warmest winters on record does have a downside — especially for those who love to play in the snow and for businesses that depend on snow-related activities. While northern and western Maine received a fair amount of snow for some good riding, southern Maine was as dry as the Sahara desert when it came to enough snow to cover the trails for snowmobiling.

“What snowmobile season?” said Brian Wescott, one of the owners of Wescott and Sons, which sells and services snowmobiles on the Gorham/Standish line. “When there wasn’t enough snow for people to ride locally, our clubs didn’t even groom this year. Up north they had some snow but it came late in the season.”

When southern Maine did get enough snow, it was bad timing in early March. March came in like a lion with almost a foot of snow, and then a heavy rain a few days later washed it all away. Those who rode in the middle of the week were able to get in a few good days of riding, but that was about it. And since most people work during the week, few got the opportunity to hit the trails.

Wescott himself is an avid snowmobiler, usually putting over 3,000 miles a year on his sled. This year the odometer racked up only 1,500 miles, with 362 miles from riding in the Portage area and the remainder from rides in Quebec.

Mainers – especially those who have lived through many winters – know warm and dry winters happen.

“I don’t want to sound like the old fella siting on the porch but I’ve seen worse, and of course I’ve seen a lot better,” said Bob Meyers, executive director of the Maine Snowmobile Association. “When all was said and done, there was some excellent riding out there this winter, although in many cases folks did need to travel to get to the hot, excuse me, cold spots.

“It’s disappointing when the clubs do all that work to get ready and then Mother Nature deals them the harsh blow. For us it’s very disappointing to see so many people give it up and never bother to register their machines – that hurts the program. Based on history, it is likely that next winter will be great, and they (the clubs) are going to need that money to get going.”

Speaking of money, snowmobile manufacturers have some great deals now because of the lack of snow this winter. Wescott said Polaris is offering up to $1,000 rebates and warranties on brand-new 2012 sleds. It may not have been a good winter for snowmobiling, but it is turning out to be a great spring and summer to get deals on new sleds.

On a positive note, the Maine Snowmobile Association’s annual meeting and awards luncheon is set for April 14 at the Pine Tree Camp on North Pond in Rome. The executive committee will meet at 11 a.m., and the board of directors meet at 11:30. Lunch is $10 and will follow the board of directors’ meeting.

The event features a silent auction and concludes with the annual awards presentations. It is casual but reservations need to be made.

Please make reservations by contacting the MSA office by noon on April 11 at 622-6983 or [email protected]

Cathy Genthner is the owner of River Bluff Camps off of ITS-83 in Medford and is licensed by the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife to guide snowmobile trips. She can be reached at:

[email protected]