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Snowmobiles, Snowcats, Dogsleds, Lift ops and Winter Recreation

The hailstorm that just blew through PDX, the winter storm warning in the cascades, and this past week’s previous events, has reminded me that not only is winter still here, but also that winter recreation can be very loud at times.

This past Thursday, I went to Frog Lake for a Full Moon Snowshoe trek with Women Who Explore and while we were in the parking lot waiting for our group to convene, it was loud!

Around two dozen dog sleds were gearing up for a night race and their howling, barking, whining was LOUD. I couldn’t help but throw my PepPlugs in to give myself a little relief from the animal barrage taking place near Mt. Hood.

Right before our trek, I’d gone night skiing at Meadows and I was reminded when the snowmobile went blaring past on some rescue mission that I hope those folks and the lift operators are protecting their hearing with more than a helmet and hopefully some type of hearing protection. Same with the folks that do snow grooming and the snowcats that take folks up to Timberline’s Silcox Hut. All these types of recreational vehicles are big noise polluters.

According to, the emissions from snowmobiles has reduced 94% since 1969 when these machines at full throttle was over 102 dB to its listener. Now the 1975 regulations and Snowmobile Safety and Certification Committee's independent testing company says that snowmobiles emit no more than 78 dB(A) from a distance of 50 feet while traveling at full throttle but what about the rider? That is good from a bystanders perspective but you still have to think about your noise intake while riding in or on motorized vehicles.

I love winter recreation but as with other machinery and recreation, noise pollution is present with chair lifts, snowmobiles, snowcats and even dog sled racing. Think about using your PepPlugs while doing winter sports to protect your hearing! -RJ

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