The Race Trails

Commentary by Jerry Bath

Different trails for different race styles, venues, terrain and regions can vary greatly. However, here in Wyoming at the Stage Stop this is what we use. Sure, we could put in some bush-type trails as we do have the terrain for it but why not use what you have.

Pedigree Stage Stop Trail Boss, Matt Redwine is our “go-to guy” every day whether it’s routine or when the going gets tough. Matt has the responsibility to change unforeseen circumstances in a moment’s notice with the dogs’ safety always coming first.

Matt starts early in the season when the first snow starts to fall going through the normal preparations for backcountry travel. Cold weather gear, survival gear, mapping and planning. Every year subtle changes come through the Race Director’s office for the selection of this year’s course.

Matt always looks for the right trails and mileage to provide a fun, challenging course. Before anything can come to fruition, however, all the snowmobiles, trailers, markers, signs, snow fencing, drift busters and groomers all need to be checked out and in top working order. While the Wyoming State Trail groomers have the lion’s share of the work Matt tries to keep an eye on every mile of the course. This keeps him aware of critical information and helps him prioritize his schedule weeks before the race. Matt sets the turnarounds on the out and back courses well ahead of race day and often gets assistance from Wyoming State Trails with these and other potential hazards.

For example, 90-degree corners can be rounded out if the terrain permits. Trailheads and parking lots are on his to do list as well. They can make or break any race day. Does the plow operator know to leave a bit of snow in the lot? Or make a new approach ramp that’s more suitable for a dog team. A lot goes on that is not recognized unless it goes south. So, from the holiday break forward Matt’s days are spent in the Wyoming back country. I just can’t say enough about Matt and what he does to ensure we all have a safe and challenging course day after day. My hat’s off to him.

I am very fortunate to know a lot of the folks who make the Wyoming State Trails system work. These people take real pride in their jobs. We are truly blessed to have the trail system that we do with 1,903 miles of groomed trails and 670 miles of ungroomed trails, not including the millions of acres of off trail riding. That’s over 72,000 miles of trail grooming a year with almost 34,000 snowmobile permits sold in addition to $1.1 million of the permit revenue spent on grooming alone.

All this helps the 24th running of the Pedigree® Stage Stop Race be a huge success.