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January 13. 2013 9:14PM

Weare snowmobile club carves path to winter bliss


Members of the Weare Winter Wanderers snowmobile club open up southern New Hampshire to snowmobilers both on the trails and during competitions. (Courtesy)

WEARE -- The say in New England there are lots of places you can't get to from here, but due to the efforts of the Winter Wanderers snowmobile club you can get just about any place from Weare.

The Weare Winter Wanderers became an established snowmobile club in 1970 when a local farmer named Charlie Brown and some local families decided it was time to start talking seriously about trails.

"In the '70s there were no trail systems as such, so we made our own. Different folks from different parts of town would meet up and start blazing. Sometimes it took us all day just to get a couple of miles," said Brown, 79.

But at that first meeting, 50 or 60 people showed up and it was clear that the interest in creating a official trail system existed.

"The gas crunch in '73 put us in danger of losing interest," said Brown, "but the club has evolved into what it is now, and it's quite a successful group."

Member Naomi Bolton, who also serves at the town administrator for Weare, said today the club consists of 200 families who spend the offseason improving trails, building bridges and repairing damage, and the winter zooming across the landscape on the carefully groomed and managed trails.

"Our trails connect between the towns of Henniker, Deering, Bow, Goffstown, Hopkinton and Contoocook.," said Bolton. "We have one of the largest trail systems in the southern part of the state, and you can get to virtually any snowmobile destination in Northern America from the Weare trail system."

Brown said that in their younger days, he and his wife Sylvia would leave their farm and head north, cross the border in Pittsburg and follow the massive Canadian trail system from one hotel to the next.

"We'd be gone for up to a week," Brown said. "Canada was the mecca of snowmobiling."

These days, Brown is considered the senior trail groomer for the group and keeps all the mechanized grooming equipment on his farm.

But the Winter Wanderers club is about more than just hitting the trails. The group is a major force behind organizing competitions like the Pats Peak Hill Climb, which draws snowmobilers from all over to test their ability to defy gravity.

And the group has also become an important community and philanthropic organization, said Bolton, working on its own to raise money for both local and national projects. The group has sponsored various local sports teams, provides scholarships to kids heading off to college, and has raised money for needy kids who can't afford the cost of class trips. Volunteering for town and community events is part of the expectation the club has of its members.

The Winter Wanderers also works closely with conservation groups including the Weare Conservation Commission and the Piscataquog Land Conservancy to do trail work in the off season to ensure the open space is accessible to folks who want to use it whether on machine, horseback or foot, said Bolton.

"The 7,422 miles of well-maintained snowmobile trails on state, federal and private lands in New Hampshire that everyone enjoys are due to an enormous volunteer effort by the 115 snowmobile clubs throughout New Hampshire," Bolton said. "Without the many dedicated hardworking volunteers around our beautiful state, snowmobiling wouldn't be the sought after sport that it is."

For more information, visit www.wearewinterwandererssc.org.

nfoster@newstote.com


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