After six snowmobile crashes in two days, authorities in New Hampshire have an important warning for those planning to hit the trails late in the season.
The Rockingham Recreational Trail in Fremont is usually groomed, but late in the season, it's not. There are bare patches everywhere, and Conservation Officer Chris McKee with the New Hampshire Fish and Game Department says if you hit one of those things going too fast, it will send you and your sled flying.
Spring is finally here, but in New Hampshire, it's still snowmobile season.
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"It's just fun to get out and be on the trails," 10-year-old Bronson Becker said.
Officer McKee agrees. But he says trail conditions are deteriorating especially once the sun goes down and this slushy snow turns to ice.
"It's going to cause the machine to be thrown to one side or the other, and possibly throw you right off it, as well," McKee explained.
McKee says there have been about 75 crashes since winter started, with six in the last two days alone, and several more than haven't been reported. Seven snowmobilers have died in NH this season, including a 15-year-old boy.
"It's always tough to lose anyone," McKee said. "A young life cut so short, it's very unfortunate."
There are a few things you need to carry with you to prepare for the worst case scenario. McKee says you should always have a tool kit to fix your machine if it breaks down. If you're stranded, you need to have a space blanket and a way to light a fire to stay warm. In case your machine goes through the ice, you should always have ice picks kept close to your body for easy access.
That is, of course, in addition to the obvious.
"A full face helmet is what I recommend," McKee said. "A good pair of snow pants."
And most importantly, Bronson says to remember this:
"When you're on ice, brakes are useless, so you should be going slow," he said.
McKee says nobody should ever ride alone. There is certainly safety in numbers.