With winter just around the corner, the Caribou Hills Cabin Hoppers will be having their kickoff party Saturday at 7 p.m. at the Kenai National Guard Armory.
The Cabin Hoppers is a nonprofit group formally organized in 1987 that cares for and grooms the trails of the Caribou Hills for snowmachiners, cross country skiers and mushers. Nolan Compton, the membership chairman for the group, said the group has about 270 memberships. Since those memberships come in the form of individual, family and business memberships, Compton estimates that 800 people are involved in the group.
Compton said the Cabin Hoppers officially groom 140 miles of trail. In reality, though, he said extra efforts from the group often result in 200 miles of groomed trail.
All of that does not happen without help from the community, and the winter kickoff is one of the largest fund-raising events the Cabin Hoppers have.
"It's a chance for everybody to get together and talk about another year of snowmachining in the Caribou Hills," Compton said. "We've been doing this for 17 years."
The kickoff event includes a potluck dinner, a no-host bar and door prizes. The Cabin Hoppers raise money at the event by collecting donations at the door and by raffling off a snowmachine. The Cabin Hoppers have an arrangement with dealers allowing the winner of the raffle to choose a Polaris, Arctic Cat or Ski-Doo.
Compton said it is important that Caribou Hills enthusiasts get out and support the Cabin Hoppers because fuel and maintenance on trail grooming equipment costs $15,000 per year.
"Anyone is welcome at the kickoff event," Compton said. "You don't have to be a member."
Compton said another way people can help the group is by helping clear trees from the trails. The Cabin Hoppers organize groups in the fall to go out and get the trails ready. Right now, the group is concentrating on the upper trails. The lower trails are marshy and require a good freeze before they can be cleared.
"We're just helping to make the trails available for future generations," Compton said.
Questions about the kickoff event can be directed to Compton at 398-4331.
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