Dick DiOrio: Leader Of The Pack (Randy Toth)
Published on Sunday, December 30, 2012 in Guest Columns, News & Updates
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The October Mountain Men, led by veteran snowmobiler Richard (Dick) DiOrio, watch over October Mountain State Forest (OMSF) which is located in the Berkshire County towns of Washington, Becket, Lee, Lenox and Pittsfield. OMSF, with over 16,000 acres, is the largest and one of the most remote state forests in all of Massachusetts. Dick and his hardworking crew maintain and groom most of the 100 miles of snowmobile trails in OMSF, while another good friend and veteran snowmobiler, Phil Hiser (now retired) handled the southern portion of OMSF as well as the link to the Knox Trail Sno-Riders Club territory to the south in Otis, MA. Still another longtime friend and veteran snowmobiler, Stan Kopala (a.k.a. the “Silver Fox” – semi retired), from the Adams Sno-Drifters Club to the north, still helps maintain the snowmobile trails around Mount Greylock and Adam, MA.

Dick started snowmobiling back in 1970, when he purchased his first snowmobile, a Moto Ski, with a giant 340cc engine.
He quickly became the local snowmobiling expert and leader of the pack, which eventually came to be known as the October Mountain Men. Being somewhat of a snowmobiling fanatic, Dick continually traded in his snowmobiles, some say whenever they got dirty, for the latest in Hi-Tech models. Today he rides a 2010 Ski-doo GSX 600 E-TEC luxury trail sled.

Dick DiOrio

Dick joined the local club, the Lakewood Snow Runners, in 1970. By the mid 1970s Dick had become president of the club. He organized rides, arranged work parties, and became the chief cook for this hearty group’s famous venison and polenta fundraising dinners. He ruled with an iron fist until 1990. His published annual snowmobile club ride schedule even went so far as to admonish club members not to ride on Christmas Day; but to stay home and spend time with their families. This original club was a subsidiary of the Lakewood Sportsmen club. However, as snowmobile membership continued to grow, it became apparent that a separate organization was in the best interests of the snowmobilers. In 1990, the current local club was formed from this core membership and was named the Berkshire Snow Seekers (BSS). Dick became an active member and transitioned to the position of OMSF trail coordinator, which he still proudly holds today.

Dick introduced his children to snowmobiling at an early age. He recalls coming home many times after a long hard day at work teaching woodworking at Pittsfield High School, only to be greeted with one of his kids reporting that his snowmobile was stuck somewhere on the mountain necessitating a daring night time recovery mission.

Dick’s extensive trail work has left a large imprint on today’s OMSF trail system.
Dick laments the lack of interest by today’s youth in maintaining the elaborate trail system that he helped build. He is also saddened by the lack of maintenance by the state, city and towns owning land in and around OMSF. To further complicate things, today’s many extreme environmental rules and regulations make routine trail maintenance a daunting task. Simply de-rocking a trail now requires weeks of preparation securing several levels of environmental permission versus just assembling a work crew and “getting the job done.”

Lakewood Snow Runners patch

As snowmobiling trail use intensified, Dick began grooming trails in OMSF. His first groomer was his snowmobile pulling a steel bed frame turned upside down for a drag. This contraption was later replaced by a dual track Thiokol Super Imp with help from a Recreational Trails Program grant. For years, Dick and his crew struggled getting this machine to operate over the rugged and steep OMSF trail system. In December of 2007, another RTP grant allowed the acquisition of a modern quad track Tucker Sno-Cat T1000 and drag which are now used to groom over 50 mile of OMSF trails each week. Today Dick and fellow groomer operators Randy Toth and Bill Sweet run a smooth grooming operation covering the trails in OMSF.

Dick’s has personally snowmobiled in many places, including Vermont, New Hampshire, New York, Maine and Canada. Dick was an avid hunter who has now switched to observing wildlife in its natural habitat. Today, Dick’s “hunting” consists of suddenly stopping his trail maintenance vehicle in the middle of a trail, grabbing his trusty knife, racing into the woods, confronting his prey, making a quick painless surgical cut with his knife, and reemerging with a big grin on his face holding a fresh killed prized mushroom. Meanwhile the rest of his trail crew can be found cursing the fact that he stopped in the middle of the trail without any warning when his sharp eyes spotted an elusive mushroom lurking in the underbrush.

During the winter, Dick can be found either riding his snowmobile or grooming trails and in the spring, summer and fall, he can be found performing maintenance on his beloved snowmobile trails. Dick can often be spotted prowling OMSF with his trusted companion, his beagle, sniffing out rabbits for exercise.

Chef DiOrio, as he is also known, uses his culinary expertise to create elaborate feasts featuring polenta, chicken, sausage and of course fresh picked mushrooms, along with his fresh grown garden vegetables, to reward folks who have gone out of their way to help him maintain the OMSF snowmobile trails and grooming equipment. Occasionally a pot of venison has been known to also grace his table; along with his highly trained beagle, who often forgets he is a dog and is not supposed to eat at the table.

The October Mountain Men, along with all of the snowmobilers in Western Massachusetts, would like to formally say a big ”THANK YOU” to Dick for all of the work he has done to further the great recreational sport of snowmobiling. Thanks also to his wife Jean for allowing her husband to spend so many hours away from home working on snowmobile trails.

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