Local sledders excited about season

And upcoming poker ride 

The little black Wells Cargo trailer next to the Big Sky Exxon is a sled-in, sled-out property. It’s the basecamp for Rudy Noorlander’s Alpine Adventures, a snowmobile outfitting service that sits just three and a half miles from the Buck Ridge trailhead.

We’re in the heart of the sledding season, and Noorlander keeps his fleet of 10 sleds zipping up and down an access trail running parallel to Highway 191. It stretches past the Corral Bar and onto the trail system linking the sled-happy public with Buck Ridge. 

Noorlander just wrapped up his busiest December ever, which included hosting a congressman from Tennessee. And he says January is shaping up to be full with bookings 
as well. 

“Basically, we’ve had more snow than we’ve had in a long time,” says Noorlander, who describes the chance to go snowmobiling as “icing on the Big Sky cake.”

A lot of newcomers to Big Sky make the rookie mistake of trying to veer off the groomed trails on Buck Ridge and into the powder, where they often get stuck. 

“Everybody has that adventure side that wants to blaze a trail,” remarks Noorlander, who recommends riders book trips for Tuesdays and Saturdays, right after the Gallatin Valley Snowmobile Association comes through with the groomer on Monday and Friday nights. 

The man often behind the wheel of the groomer is GVSA President Daniel Kristensen, who sometimes sacrifices personal riding time for the sake of a smooth track for others. “When you quit work at four in the morning, you don’t want to go ride at seven.”

But Kristensen says he gets a lot of joy out of hearing unsolicited praise from fellow riders loading up in the parking lot after a long, fun day: “People who don’t even know me talk about how good the trails are.” 

The Buck Ridge Trail is expected to be packed with happy riders on Sat. Jan. 27 when club members and anyone with a sled is encouraged to join the annual fun run poker ride. 

“Last year our winners got somewhere around $400,” recalls Kristensen, also touting the door prizes provided by local snowmobile shops. “We donated around $800 to the avalanche center. We try to give away a lot of stuff.”

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