storms create excellent conditions – Methow Valley News


Photo by Marcy Stamper
The skiers took advantage of the abundant snow and bright sunshine to enjoy the freshly groomed Nordic slopes.

A steady series of storms continue to refresh the snowpack and wintry aesthetic of the East Slope of the North Cascades, leaving the Methow Valley with perfect conditions for winter recreation.

Nordic Ski

A weekend snowstorm on a warm, firm base is brewing to position the Methow Valley well for a long Nordic season. Methow Trails has opened all of its 200 kilometers of ski trails and maintains the majority of these trails nightly on weekends and during the holidays.

Some trailheads fill up during prime time of the day; try exploring new areas or skiing early or late in the day. Visit www.methowtrails.org/trail-report when planning your ski to find out where the best conditions are. Trail passes are required.

The South Summit Sno-Park area near Loup Loup Pass has had an initial pack of all 50K of its trails. Coverage is thin and punchy in the center of the trail, so skiers should exercise caution. Trail passes are not required, but each vehicle must display a Sno-Park permit, which can be purchased at Hank’s Harvest Foods at Twisp or online at https://parks.state.wa.us / 134 / Sno-Park-non-Motorized-Permitted.

Fat bike

Methow Fatbike reports that the grooming team have organized large sessions to establish and clean all trails at Lloyd Ranch. Mild conditions may exist in some sections; trails will firm up with more grooming passes and setup time. Early season conditions exist so be careful as there isn’t a lot of snow to cushion a fall and a lot of hard objects underneath. Wearing a helmet is strongly recommended on a fat bike.

You can help protect the trail surface by choosing other trails or lowering your tire pressure if you are leaving tracks more than 1 inch deep. Tempering the excitement of the start of the season with a little patience will provide the best track conditions in the long run.

Methow Cycle & Sport provides the most comprehensive list of fat bike trails and conditions in the Methow Valley. Visit https://www.methowcyclesport.com/articles/fat-bike-trails-conditions-pg187.htm for more information and trail suggestions. Parking passes are required.

Snowshoeing

Groomed snowshoe trails can be found on the Methow Trails system at Mazama, Rendezvous, Winthrop, and Sun Mountain. Check the website for conditions: www.methowtrails.org/trail-report. Trail passes are required.

Alpine skiing

Thanks to the weekend snowstorm, Loup Loup Ski Bowl is one step closer to opening, which they hope to do for the holidays. Full-time residents of Okanogan County receive a 10% discount on tickets. See https://skitheloup.com for opening information, conditions, updates and operating schedule.

Ice skating

Skating under the stars or under the great blue sky of Methow Valley is a magical way to experience sliding on ice. The Winthrop Rink is open for skating, organized hockey, free hockey and private rental, as well as equipment rental. Visit the website for public holiday timetables and prices: http://winthrorink.org.

Ice fishing

Due to the freeze, thaw and refreeze patterns associated with heavy snowfall over the weekend, ice conditions at this time of year are unreliable. The Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife recommends waiting until the ice is 4 inches thick before venturing onto lakes for ice fishing and 9 inches for snowmobiling. Most winter anglers head to Davis and Patterson Lakes once the ice is reliable. Check out these websites for more information on license terms and requirements: https://okanogancountry.com/fishing–hunting-winter; https://wdfw.wa.gov/places-to-go/weekender/north-central.

Snowmobile

Methow Valley’s six Sno-Parks provide access to 175 miles of groomed snowmobile trails and connections to other areas in the region, such as Conconully and Chelan. The Methow Valley Snowmobile Association organizes group rides and reports on conditions; check their website and social media for conditions, grooming and event information: www.facebook.com/methowvalleysnowmobile; http://mvsnowmobile.blogspot.com.

Pass

The reason all of the recreation areas listed above are so great for skiing, snowshoeing and fat biking is that they are expertly maintained, some by paid staff and others by volunteers. Equipment, fuel, and personnel all cost money, which pass income helps offset. Purchase your parking and trail passes and help support winter recreation in Methow Valley.

Stay warm outside

Treat the feet: think of insulated boots with a thick sole. You can queue outside, wait to enter a restaurant, have a coffee, have your turn on the ice; you can socialize outside with others around a fire or on the sidewalks. It’s not winter to skimp on shoes. If your boots are rather light, pack warm air-activated compresses that you can slip under your socks if your little feet start to freeze.

Hats on: You lose a significant amount of heat from your head. Capture that warmth with a wool or fleece beanie. Learn to knit your own and you’ll have a new winter hobby along with a warm noggin.

Cozy core: Your vital organs are all located in your core, so you’ll be warmer if you insulate this area well with a puffer jacket with plenty of loft. If your down jacket is too tight, you will lose the layer of warm air between your body and the jacket; if it is too large, there will be more air space than your body can heat efficiently. For those who run cold, a three-quarter-length or full-length puffer jacket will be a game-changer.

hot fingers: Our hands do a terrible job of keeping warm, so it is essential to wear thick hands. Mittens are warmer than gloves, due to the pairing system (fingers can warm against each other), but gloves offer more dexterity. Air activated heat packs can quickly warm icy fingers or keep them from getting cold in the first place.

Mask yourself: You will be surprised how warm the covering will give you, even a light cotton mask. With the Omicron variant inevitably pointed at us, COVID masks keep you warm and safe.


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