Winter Conditions In Cascades Still Prevail, Recreation Ongoing
Winter conditions are diminishing in North Central Washington as springtime approaches, but the climate has not changed in the Cascades.
The Wenatchee Valley experienced bright sunshine Friday morning, a sharp contrast to conditions at Snowqualmie and Stevens passes where heavy snow required required vehicles not equipped with all/four-wheel drive to strap chains onto tires.
U.S. Forest Service spokesperson Robin DeMario says the in-between time period known as shoulder season will take a while to arrive.
"Right now, I still wouldn't say we're on shoulder season yet, because we still have so much snow in the woods that people are still doing winter recreation activities, skiing, shoe shoeing, snowmobiling, etc.," said DeMario.
The Forest Service is advising anyone recreating in the mountains right now to carry a map, avoid steep terrain and check for avalanche conditions.
The Northwest Avalanche Center publishes up to date avalanche conditions on their website.
Mountain recreationists are also asked to carry appropriate gear for back country winter travel, which includes a shovel, a probe and an avalanche transceiver.
Transceivers continuously emit a radio signal that can be picked up by other transceivers in the area, and can be critical in locating and digging out a person buried in snow.
The Forest Service says it's important to know how to use the gear before going to the forest.
Meanwhile, a number of winter recreation spots, such as Echo Ridge Nordic ski area near Chelan still have groomed trails.
But, DeMario says the grooming of trails will taper off as funding for the service dries up.
"As we progress into March, the funds available for that have been spent during the winter, so some areas may not be groomed as frequently as they had been during December, or earlier in the Winter," DeMario said.
The Forest Service is also asking drivers to stay off of national forest roads that are still being used for winter recreational activities such as snowmobiling.