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Santa brings snowmaking to Huron Meadows Metropark

Tue, Jan  3, 2012 - By Mike Muha

Huron Meadows Metropark in Brighton, Michigan, becomes the first cross country ski trail system in southern Michigan to make snow. Snow making is in full swing, starting at 5:20pm on Monday, January 2, 2012; the first skiers to take advantage of the new snow will be Wednesday night's "Kids learn to ski and race" class offered by the Frosty Freestyle, Huron Meadows, and SELCRA.

With less dependence on a fickle Mother Nature for snow, Huron Meadows plans to open more hours, including weekday and evening hours. The schedule should be announced within the next week.

Because of the expense in running the snow making equipment, skiers will need to pay to $5 trail fee to ski on the man-made snow. There will be signs at the parking lot, on the patio outside the club house, and at the trail ahead to remind skiers to obtain a wristband inside the ski center.

Adam Haberkorn fires up the snow making gun for the first time on Monday night, Jan 2, 2012

Adam Haberkorn fires up the snow making gun for the first time on Monday night, Jan 2, 2012

Huron Meadows has a lease-to-buy contract with SMI Snowmakers in Midland, Michigan, for a standard PoleCat snowmaking gun. The gun is designed for simple operation and low maintenance.

Power to run the snow gun comes from a 480v generator owned by the Huron-Clinton Metroparks. The generator had to be rewired from 240v to 480v before it could be used.

All nozzels firing on the new snow gun

All nozzles firing on the new snow gun.

For the first few days, the PoleCat will make snow in one area for Wednesday night's skiing instruction. Later this week, a manure spreader from the Wolcott Mill Metropark farm will arrive at Huron Meadows. The spreader, loaded with snow, will be pulled behind the ski groomer to spread snow on the ski trails. This concept was tested last April, when Huron Meadows Nordic Director Adam Haberkorn and Bill McConnell used a borrowed spreader to create a short XC ski loop for the Groomer Appreciation Party ski outing. For this first season, up to a kilometer-and-a-half of ski trail will be covered in man-made snow.

The snow gun is good news to skiers planning to race the upcoming REI Frosty Freestyle cross country ski race on Saturday, January 14. The snow gun will provide extra insurance in case the weather is less than cooperative.

20 mph winds whips the snow into the air

20 mph winds whips the snow into the air

Using money from last year's Frosty Freestyle donation, Huron Meadows expanded its fleet of Fischer rental skis for adults and kids, including additional skating skis. Huron Meadows is the only trail system in southern Michigan to rent skating skis. The park also plans to rent headlamps to night skiers who want a few more lumens than provided by the moon or reflection of city lights off clouds.

The Washtenaw Ski Touring Club will also be providing free beginner ski lessons every other Saturday, from January through February, starting January 7, 2012 at 10:30am. (Pre-registration required: call 734-426-8211).