- Just a few weeks ago, the Northwoods seemed to have plenty of snow for snowmobiling. There was one problem: the trails weren't open. Just after trails in Vilas County opened last Friday, some of the snow melted.
"We could tell that we were losing a lot of snow. We decided to stay off the trails and just kind of see how it played out, and you know, here we are waiting for some new snow," said Hiller's Pine Haven Resort Owner Mark Hiller.
The heavy snowfall at the end of November seemed to help Hiller's business.
"The winter customers were really enthusiastic and it was definitely helping generate more phone calls and traffic," he said.
Hiller rents out 11 cabins during the winter at his St. Germain resort. He also manages 23 other rental properties. Seventy-five percent of his winter business comes from snowmobilers.
"They're going to start calling right now to see if they can rebook or what the trail conditions are like or if there's more snow coming. And what we'll do is we'll take those deposits and we'll reapply them to the future if they end up rebooking," he explained.
When there's not enough snow for snowmobiling, resorts like Hiller's Pine Haven rely on other outdoor sports like ice fishing and cross country skiing to keep drawing in customers. Hiller's also grateful the melt happened early in the season.
"We've got a little grace period coming here with the Christmas holidays. A lot of people that come up for the Christmas holiday aren't coming just to snowmobile," he said.
St. Germain Sport Marine sees its snowmobile rental business pick up after Christmas, too.
"That's pretty typical for the rental market. We don't get much business ahead of time," said St. Germain Sport Marine Owner Tom Christensen.
Even though there aren't many rentals right now, Christensen says he's still getting servicing business.
"Folks are still getting their sleds ready to go because they're really hoping and praying the snow's going to come and they're going to be able to ride," Christensen explained.
While both business owners say they do worry at this point every year, they have faith the lack of snow will be short-lived.
"In the snow business, things turn on a dime. You can lose a lot of snow right away, but you can gain a lot of snow right away," Hiller said.
"I think it will come back," Christensen added. "Maybe we had the warm up now in December and that one that traditionally comes at the end of January won't come so it'll be a great January and February."
That's something all snowmobilers are hoping for.
|Story By: Lauren Stephenson