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Season end notes

May 6, 2021

Here it is! The month of May. Time for bike rides, spring wildflowers, and bar-b-ques. Who even thinks of skiing? Well, there are a few of us. Now the work for 2021/2022 is in process. First though, a bit of a recap.

This past winter was one for the history books as they say. Unprecedented crowds – most of whom were completely new to Sno-Parks. Then there was that early minimal snowpack and a snow level that seemed to hang at 3500’ for entirely too long until sometime in February when it lowered. Those that move and sculpt snow were working very long hours with immense stress on equipment. While most of our groomed ski trails avoid avalanche terrain, that became an issue for keeping I-90 open. And to me, the sledding on the freeway interchange at Gold Creek on the WSDOT sand piles was a bit shocking. There was a time when folks would never even remotely consider sledding on a freeway interchange.

We do owe a collective round of thanks to:

  • all the silent volunteers of which there are many and I would love to name them all.

  • On the ground front line staff getting creative with plowing and having fun with grooming once there was a snowpack to mold.

  • Then there is Jason Goldstein / Winter Recreation contracts manager who had an unusually busy season scrambling to find some more temporary options for the demand. Along with Jason’s leadership -

  • Thank you to WADFW, WADNR, USFS for teamwork finding temporary Sno-Parks to open to help alleviate a bit of pressure up on the pass.

  • Crystal Springs and Hyak State Park Rangers really had their hands full keeping everyone safe and managing an unbelievable number of users. Kevin Davis / Keith Wersland and their crews maintained calm and sanity all season long.

  • USFS has a lot of territory to cover and there were days when they could not even drive to the end of Gold Creek. Gads what a nightmare that place is.

  • Kittitas County Sheriffs made many trips to the Pass this winter.

  • and last but and not least, WSDOT crews also deserve a huge thank you as if it wasn’t for them, we would not be able to come up to the Pass. I can imagine they have a lot of stories.

All the above entities / groups / individuals give a lot of their time and resources to the winter recreation program.

Here are some stats:

WSDOT reports 464” of snow at Snoqualmie Pass for the 20/21 season, last year for comparison was 345”. See table at top.

Climatology from NWAC for May 1, 2021
            CURRENT  CLIMATE  PER CENT   LAST  THRU 2020  THRU 2020
STEVENS      93       80      116         81   141/1964     9/2015
SNOQUALMIE   72       57      126         21   131/1974     0/2015
STAMPEDE     99       78      127         56   176/1964     0/2005

Ok, so work you ask? Yes, for starters, taking down the multitude of signs. Then the inventory of what we need to do for next season. Currently, various individuals are working on writing funding applications for more infrastructure for future seasons. These include grooming increases, more signs, trail etiquette signs, (one of the most requested items statewide), parking / bringing in more gravel, grading, gate installation and repair, trail maintenance on all land other than USFS, research on opening another non-motorized Sno-Park (which more than likely would not have skier grooming at this time), and future staffing. In the I-90 corridor there are so many challenges to work through. Nothing is easy.

This July, the 2020 / 2021 invoices will be closed out and the budget number mostly final for the Winter Recreation Advisory Committee to approve next seasons expenditures.

Next event is the annual Sno-Park clean-up. This is scheduled for Saturday May 22nd, 2021 10 AM until noonish when hopefully we’ll have finished. I know one pickup load came out of Crystal already. The focus will be on Hyak, Gold Creek and Cabin Creek.

Gold Creek is always a tough one as it is 2 miles of parking and we will need to clean the road to the summer trailhead at the Pond and the beginning of the road up Kendall Peak Lakes. Bring a few pairs of gloves and wear boots. There will be a host at the entrance of Gold Creek (me) to hand out bags and someone tending Hyak – hanging out by the comfort station. Many hands make light work. Typically, attendance is light, which is sort of sad, so the more the merrier and the sooner we can finish. Please think about helping!


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