The sound of winter

Lisa Dumontier

I was sitting at an appointment last week in a well insulated, remotely renovated and seemingly sound-proof building. With a scenic view of the waterfront and the lights dancing off the frozen skating rinks, it was a relaxing moment in a hectic day except for one sure-fire problem—the incredible noise associated with the snowmobiles racing across Howey Bay.

Have you seen them? It’s sometimes hard to focus because they’re moving soooo fast but if you happen to notice a yellow blur passing by Norseman Park or the Government Docks, you’ve probably spotted one of our local outdoor enthusiasts hitting the trails to enjoy the great white north and the winter adventures this area no doubt has to offer. And while I certainly encourage getting out and getting active, the sheer speeds these machines are moving at tends to send shivers up my spine.

It’s hard to believe there aren’t more snowmobile accidents in the Red Lake area (knock on wood) and that’s not just criticism geared at all of the speed demons who enjoy testing the limits of their supersonic sleds. I literally can’t believe that with such unpredictable “road” conditions and such incredible speeds, there aren’t more snowmobile versus snowmobile collisions, snowmobile versus ice ridge collisions, snowmobile versus tree-line collisions or snowmobile versus anything else collisions happening on a year-by-year basis. Especially when you consider that many of the helmet clad drivers zooming around the area don’t even have a driver’s license or have limited experience behind the “wheel”.

Snowmobiling can be a dangerous hobby. With open water and other natural wonders on standby to wreak havoc, bundling up and heading out is something that should be taken seriously with ample regard for not only other snowmobilers, but also other outdoor enthusiasts potentially making use of the same winter wonderland. Take a look around, Howey Bay is home to several skating rinks and spotting a family out snowshoeing or skiing on the Bay is hardly a rarity especially given the graceful winter Mother Nature has bestowed on us thus far.

It would be nice if everyone could slow down just a little. I know the latest and greatest snowmobiles can reach speeds far greater then anything the old Tundras could have dreamed of years ago but that doesn’t mean we have to test their limits so actively does it? How fast is fast enough?

And for all you non-snowmobilers utilizing the great outdoors in any other capacity, be safe. Wear reflective clothing, pay attention to your surroundings and always let someone know where you’re headed and when you plan to return. A lot can happen in just the blink of an eye.

Letters to the Editor can be submitted via news@thenorthernsun.com

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