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Montreal group volunteers to maintain ski trails

 

December 18, 2019

Tom LaVenture/Daily Globe

Volunteers Ciara Relyea and Brian Maxinoski clear a snowbank at the trailhead entrance to the Historic Montreal Ski Trails system on Saturday, as members of the Penokee Rangers Inc., wait their turn.

By TOM LAVENTURE

tlaventure@yourdailyglobe.com

MONTREAL, Wis. - A gentle, scenic snowshoeing and cross country ski trail system doesn't maintain itself and a group of local volunteers say they do it because the trails are special to the community.

The nonprofit Penokee Rangers Inc. have sought members and volunteers to help maintain the non-motorized trails following snow events since 1975, said Charlie Zinsmaster, chief of trails. The group maintains the 10 miles of the Historic Montreal Ski Trails system along with assisting Iron County with another 20 miles on the Uller Ski Trails in Pence.

People who bought the old mining houses nearby said it was because of the nearby trails, he said. Many people ski regularly at Active Backwoods Retreat (ABR) in Erwin Township, but people also like Montreal for the quiet, wooded area, he said.

"These are scenic, classic trails that glide through time at old mining sites in Montreal," Zinmaster said. "The work goes on all winter. Every time you get enough snow that you can't see the tracks anymore we go out and groom. This winter's been tough with all of this snow so early."

Two people can work the tracked grooming machines that smooth out the trails, he said. The volunteers are needed at points where the trailheads have snowbanks from plowing that will harden if not cleared right away, he said.

"For the older people and the young kids that come to ski a lot of times it's just hard to get up on the trail, so we need constant shoveling down," Zinmaster said.

Once the detail work is done at the trailhead and other points that are identified along the trail, the grooming work can be completed in a couple of hours, he said.

Ciara Relyea, a social worker who moved to Montreal recently, said she got involved as a snowshoer who is also looking to learn cross country skiing. The volunteering is a way to get involved with the community as well, she said.

"I'm looking to volunteer and to figure out how I can help keep the trails groomed and accessible to everybody," Relyea said.

Brian Maxinoski, of Montreal, said he has been part of the Penokee Rangers since they were founded. He is an avid skier and snowshoer.

"The trails are right in our back yard and they couldn't be better," Maxinoski said. "They're convenient, well groomed, scenic and it's just quiet and relaxing to be on the system."

"Redrod" Gulan, of Gile, said he has been a track groomer for many years. The trails are his exercise and his hobby, he said.

"I love the trails and I come skiing every day," Gulan said. "I hop in the track with Charlie, groom the trail and then walk home and have a sandwich. Then I throw my skis in the car and come back and ski the rest of the day."

 
 

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