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WSSA - The Voice of Snowmobiling in Washington

8th Annual Military Appreciation Ride – A great day celebrating a few of our local warriors By Matt Mead, Ride Leader(?) I’ve got a great group of volunteers who help me with this event each season. I’d like to say we are a well-oiled machine at this point; effortlessly pulling off this ride each year. Well, it was almost that way this year… The prep work began just after the first of the year when I contacted the Yakima Training Center and suggested a date for the adventure. I let my contact know how many riders we could support and left it up to her to get the soldiers signed up and provide me with their gear sizes. We exchanged several e-mails leading up to the ride date in early March.

The day starts as a trail ride and then mixes in off-trail adventure as the day progresses.

The day arrived and we all met up at a local parking lot at 8am; this included our guest riders, most of the support crew which included members from the Yakima Ski-Benders and Drift-A-Way club, and a TV reporter from KAPP 35 Tri-Cities/Yakima. After introductions, we created our own little convoy and headed up Chinook Pass. The first hour in the sno-park was a busy one! Unloading machines, gearing up (and making sure the gear for our guests was a good fit), and then providing the group with a familiarization/safety briefing. It’s always amazing how helpful our military riders want to be; always jumping in where they see a need without having to ask.

Smiling faces! Our military riders with a couple of (older) chaperones mixed in.

We always hope for a perfect weather day; moderate temps and crystal clear bright skies. It started out promising with the temperature in the 20s and brilliant blue sky as we rode out of the sno-park. We headed a couple of miles up the smooth trail (thanks to Roger Brittain and High Country Grooming) and then stopped to check on everyone. We want to make sure everyone is comfortable and the machines are running like they should. With everyone flashing a thumbs up and a smile, we continued on. We typically stay on the groomed trail with just a touch of un-groomed logging roads and easy off trail in the morning part of the ride. This year we took a slightly different route and dropped steeply off the main trail, down through the trees, and then met up with a seldom-used logging road. We took it slow and had no problems; everyone was doing great! I have two destinations for early in the day. One I call ‘the big *ss tree’, because, well, there is a big pine tree that has evaded a chainsaw in likely more than a 100 years, located at the end of a twisting, descending spur road. After taking a short break and a few pictures, we headed to a craggy overlook nearby for more Polaroids and conversation. A quick squint at my watch (phone) and it was decided we should probably start working our way up the mountain to our lunch stop. This was pure trail ride to the top and could have been uneventful. But it wasn’t. We had a couple of slow riders in our group and when I reached the last intersection about a half a mile from our destination, I stopped to wait a bit for everyone


October 2017 • 13

October 2017 Snoflyer  

The official publication of the Washington State Snowmobile Association.