Snowmobile enthusiasts wished for a white Christmas, but didn't get a big enough present.
The three to five inches of snow that fell in early December appeared to be a good start to what has been a few years of disappointing winters. Then came a short warming trend in the weather and those with hopes of hitting the trails with their sleds were dashed again.
They're still hoping for more white stuff, though it doesn't keep many from going out.
"There has been (people using the trails), but the trails are not in good condition because of the lack of snow," said Greg Soupir, Trails and Waterways manager at the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources' Spicer office. "They weren't great because of the two-day thaw. There was barely enough to groom before that. We need snow."
Soupir's comments mirror many sentiments from area snowmobile clubs, which maintain other snowmobile trails in counties in the area.
The Christmas Day snow merely dusted the Willmar area, while it deposited amounts in the three- to five-inch range in Redwood Falls, Marshall and many areas of southwest Minnesota.
But trails in Renville County are in the same shape as the ones in Kandiyohi County, according to Charles Melberg of the Renville County Drift Runners club.
"We don't have adequate snow yet," he said crisply. "We lost what we had before Christmas. If we wouldn't have lost that, we'd be OK."
Don't be fooled by the snow cover, either. While there's enough snow to blow around and cause hazardous driving conditions, it's not enough to satisfy heavy vehicles traveling over open ground.
"It doesn't look good; its rough, but you're hitting a lot of patches of dirt," Soupir said of trail conditions. "It's nice to have a two-inch base and we don't have that in a lot of areas. When you hit bumps, its not bumps from snow bubbles, its bumps from the earth."
Conditions are just as bad in the Minnesota River valley, according to Curt Berg of the Montevideo Snowdrifters.
"What we need now is snow. We're sitting in a pocket here like we were this summer without enough rain," he said. "The trails are all in and ready to go, there's no problem there. Everything around here goes south or north."
All three wait eagerly for more snow. Like a child's Christmas wish list, they would like a residual gift from the skies.
"A couple of inches would be nice," said Soupir.
"Another five inches would help," Berg said. "Even three or four."
"Four to six inches," Melberg noted.
To use state or grant-in-aid snowmobile trails, riders are required to purchase a state trail sticker, available from any state Electronic Licensing System agent. State trail stickers can also be purchased by phone by calling 1-888-665-4236 or by visiting the DNR online licensing system at https://www3.wildlifelicense.com/mn/index.php. For more information on state snowmobile trails and licensing, visit the DNR website at www.mndnr.gov.