The visibility has been darned clear for the past weeks, interrupted briefly on Sunday as snow fell intermittently high on County Road 8 during the annual “I Ride With James” Poker and Snowmobile Run.
It was too darned clear on the way up to Lost Creek Trailhead, about a mile or so past the Marvine turnoff and just after the pavement ends. There was basically no snow at all on the southern slopes on the north side of the road as far high up as you could look.
This was in sharp contrast to last year, when the snow was piled high, fluffy and everywhere, making it possible for the snowmobilers to head in any direction they wanted to travel. Not so on Sunday.
Thankfully, the organizers—the Sizemores, primarily, along with the Welles and other family and friends—were able to set up the base camp at the Lost Creek Trailhead, which is the usual ride launching ground. Since County Road 8 stops there during the winter, there was plenty of snow on the road, which led farther east, and higher in altitude there was enough snow for the machines to head out of the base camp and get up the mountain, where there was much more snow—enough to keep riders out for at least three hours,
The event started at 10 a.m., and spirits seemed to rise about 12:30 p.m., when it started to flurry a bit, picking up to some good snow by about 1 p.m. Everyone seemed to get excited about seeing the heavier snow, but unfortunately, there wasn’t going to be enough to improve Sunday’s event.
A lot of work is done by the organizers of the event each year, held in memory of James Sizemore, the son of Kathy and Mike Sizemore’s son, James, who was killed Feb. 20, 2011, in an avalanche on nearby Sand Peak.
The event is centered around a five-stop poker run, and the money from the run helps to fund two $1,000 scholarships for Meeker High School seniors—one a male; one a female. Other funds raised go to assist Rio Blanco County Search and Rescue.
Last year, roughly 135 sleds, several with more than one rider, took part in the third annual event, coming from all parts of Northwest Colorado and from as far away as Vernal, Utah. This year, while the full count was not known by Tuesday morning, there were no doubt well in excess of 100 riders.
Grand prize wad a brand new Polaris 120 children’s snowmobile. First prize for the poker run was $1,000, second prize paid $500 and third prize won $250. There is also a prize for the oldest snowmobile and another for ugliest snowmobile, and all children participants also won prizes.
Out my window on the way down toward Meeker, there were clear views from about the Buford School, and it was clear that the fourth annual event was well run, the food was more than plentiful and good and it was pretty clear that those who went snowmobiling and the few who stayed behind to sled just across the highway from the base camp all had a lot of fun.
It is great to see private citizens put on a well-attended event that also does a lot for the community. The Sizemores, the Welles and a number of other helping relatives, friends and members of the community once again provided great entertainment while performing a public service.
Thanks folks. It was a fun event and your efforts are greatly appreciated.
And in all seriousness, the higher altitudes in Rio Blanco County and the surrounding mountains are in dire need of much more snow.
The only good way to look at it is that March and April are the top precipitation months within the county.
Another community event, this time held on Saturday evening in Meeker, was the free Valentines’s Day dance at the Hugus Building, hosted by building owner Mary K. Krueger and the Clover Loafers, who played a quite eclectic selection of music enjoyed by those in attendance.
Running from 8 p.m. until midnight, it would be easy to estimate that more than 100 people stopped in to attend the event, which featured the group—made up of Mary K. Krueger, David Mains, David Cole and Brett Smithers—playing Irish ballads, reels, folk music, polkas, waltzes and country music.
The Meeker Lions Club was there to man a full bar and free snacks were provided by Wendll’s, taking care to meet all needs of those who attended.
It was a pleasant evening out, according to those I spoke with, and it was a nice thing for the town folks to have available on a Saturday evening.
Perhaps there will be one or two similar events before this winter is over.