It's been a great few weeks of winter weather don't you think? There are still snow piles at my house and my dog tried to keep "her pile" from leaving - by lying on it. Dogs and snow go well together.
So after a big storm cycle and then a bit more here and there afterwards is great, but it is also takes that 4 ft of snow a bit longer to settle in and firm up. At these times, it is often a great choice to put on the touring skis and venture off the groomed and go explore!
Last week there were posthole footprints going down a foot in many places right down the middle of that expensive grooming. Please let walkers know to walk to the side, but be nice. Snowshoers, please walk to to side as demonstrated by the above photo. The skate lane is left, ski tracks to the right and snowshoers walk to far right. This photo is taken out Iron Creek where USFS is grooming this season. Looks wonderful!
To get to Iron Creek, go north on US 97 towards Blewett Pass, and then turn left into very small parking lot at the curve at the beginning of the climb going up to Blewett. The roads they are grooming are 9714 / Iron Creek and Hovey Creek (takes off to the left)
Lets talk grooming for a bit. Who does what. In the I-90 corridor there are a whole lot grooming machines when you consider the Summit at Snoqualmie operations, the private clubs, the snowmobile program and the nordic programs.
For the Sno-Park program in our area, Lake Easton State Park personnel are contracted to groom from Hyak to Easton on the Palouse to Cascades State Park Trail, Lake Easton State Park trail system and this season they took over the grooming of the dog sled trails. LandTec has the contract to groom Erling Stordahl and Cabin Creek (and snowmobile out of Crystal Springs). USFS grooms Salmon La Sac and Iron Creek.
The Sno-Park program manages the Sno-Park grooming and in a nutshell, the contracts are different. Private contracts (such as LandTec) are awarded on a bid system and the program does not pull from private contracts to give to the public contracts (such as USFS) or vice versa. So each contractor works within their contract. After all these years, it is mostly fairly well nailed. When the budget is gone, grooming is done. Budget busters are long stretches of low snow like we had where grooming proves to be difficult with no snow stockpiles, trail obstacles, cutting dozens and dozens of trees, or fixing trails vandalized by vehicles driving on them, flood events and just plain heavy heavy use.
That said, both LandTec and Lake Easton are having some service reductions - one to make the budget last and the other due to staff shortage.
Lake Easton State Park will be on regular schedule Fridays - Mondays as usual and Wednesday or Thursdays as needed and staff is available. LandTec will reduce frequency in Erling and in Cabin, maybe only grooming portions of trail systems midweek.
This weeks events:
Saturday Feb. 23th Erling Stordahl: Ski For Light (tracks set side by side)
Crystal Springs: Meany Lodge Trek and Lunch, AND The Patrol Race
Ozbaldy 50k and 10k freestyle ♦ Sunday, March 3
closing out with another photo from skiing out on Iron Creek