It’s been a relatively benign winter so far in the Lower Similkameen, but that hasn’t stopped members of the Similkameen Snowmobile Club from enjoying the season at higher elevations.
The 21 member club, headed by Forrest Nelson of Cawston, would like to add to its membership roster as the new year gets underway.
James Kruspe owns and operates Direct Performance in Keremeos. He and wife Donegal are ardent snowmobile enthusiasts; James has been riding for 30 years.
“Locally, we ride in the Ashnola,” Kruspe said, where the club recently rebuilt an emergency cabin that serves as a rest stop for the club’s weekend tours in the valley.
Club members also frequent the hills above Olalla, where a series of logging roads and trails connect to Apex ski area.
“There is a group of six of us who get together just about every weekend,” Kruspe explained, adding “we always ride with a buddy – never go alone.”
Kruspe, who repairs all makes and models of snowmobiles, said modern snowmobiles have a reliable track record, but there is always the potential for something to happen.
“Last year, I was up in the back country around Whipsaw Creek,” Kruspe said, “I came off a low snowdrift below which was a drop off.”
The impact resulted in a fracture of the vertebra, and a painful end to the season for Kruspe. This year, he carries with him the latest in search and rescue technology, in the form of an Inreach GPS device that can log his snowmobile party’s movements, and at the press of a button send out an SOS that will notify local search and rescue bodies, should an emergency arise.
The club’s favoured routes can be reached in less than 45 minutes from a Keremeos resident’s front door.
“When the snow is down to the valley floor, we can unload our machines in Olalla and go from there,” Kruspe said. “It’s about 30 kilometres one way – a nice afternoon trip – to Apex and back.”
Other less frequented areas include back roads in the Fairview – Orofino Mountain area, and trips further afield to the Whipsaw Creek area.
The Similkameen Snowmobile Club’s season generally runs from mid December through to April.
Anyone interested in joining the group should contact James Kruspe at 250-499-0015.