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rossb
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PostTue Dec 15, 2020 7:03 pm 
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altasnob wrote:
The vast majority of backcountry skiers in Washington are parking in the same parking lot as lift-served skiers (Baker, Stevens, Alpental, and Crystal) so they aren't really going elsewhere. And you can't blame them because other than Paradise, there is no easy access to a high elevation parking lot in Western Washington without a ski area there.

I'm not sure if your first sentence is true, but your second sentence makes a very good point. The main advantage to skiing at the ski resorts is that:

1) You easily get above the trees.
2) There is good parking.
3) There are no snowmobiles.

If there is a huge increase in backcountry skiing and snowshoeing in the greater Puget Sound area, then the government response should match it. Never mind the ski resorts. There should be more non-motorized sno-parks, especially in the high country.

Here are all the non-motorized sno-parks in Washington. North of I-90, and west of the crest, there are only two: Salmon Ridge -- a groomed area that offers very little access to the high country, and Shadow of the Sentinels, which isn't really a sno-park. It is basically just a suggestion. It "starts" at 1,000 feet, which means you have to drive up the road, or carry your skis (I have no idea which -- it has been a while since I've been there). In short, for a huge area, there is really nothing for a backcountry skier (or snowshoer) to do but either park at a ski resort, dink around in the lowlands, or embark on an epic adventure. I'm not saying any of those options are terrible, but it is nothing like Paradise, where you park, get out of your car, and the world is your oyster.

In contrast, look at the options available if you own a sled. More than half a dozen in that same area. To be fair, many of these are long, and in areas more appropriate for snowmobiles. Segelsen Creek is very scenic, but you really don't get into open country -- it makes more sense for sleds. But further north, off the North Cascades Highway, you have Anderson Creek/Watson as well as the entire Dock Butte/Park Butte/Railroad Grade area and even a good section of Mount Baker itself set aside for motorized entertainment.

This approach is outdated. It does not meet the needs of the public. For example, imagine if they simply closed off Park Butte to snowmobiles. Suddenly, the numbers there would skyrocket. Of course they would. On a sunny weekend, it would rival a ski resort, as snowshoers and backcountry skiers (and even skinny skiers) enjoy Schriebers Meadow, Morovitz meadow, Park Butte or any of the other spectacular, world-class destinations that rival anything that any ski resort offers.

A democracy should meet the needs of the majority, while not oppressing the minority. If areas like Park Butte were set aside for the huge numbers of American citizens that want to backcountry ski, board and snowshoe, than those that prefer a snowmobile would still have plenty of other options. Again, look at the map. There are more places set aside (let alone way more miles of track) for sleds than for those that can't afford (or simply don't want to ride) a vehicle when they are on the snow.

While I agree with your statements about the ski resorts (they do need to accommodate those that don't want to ride the lifts), we should also set aside more land for the vast majority of Puget Sound outdoor enthusiasts who venture out in the winter.
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treeswarper
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PostWed Dec 16, 2020 7:19 am 
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Here we go... the old argument about I want more land to myself.

IF people were decent, we could share trails with motorized.  We do in this area.  I've inquired and few complaints are made.  We are polite, and I hope that still stays true because folks in cars are not so polite since Covid kicked in.

I will admit to never having seen a snowmobile on the shared section, but I haven't been up there on a weekend and we don't see many people on a weekday.

This is how it is handled...a sign and people respecting the rules.  It works.


I've parked in a snopark that catered to snowmobiles south of Randle and skied up their route.  Only one jerk was encountered and that was in the parking lot where he revved his engine as he went by, hurting our ears.  That was it.  We then had an enjoyable rest of the day skiing in the area.

Maybe its your attitude?

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What's especially fun about sock puppets is that you can make each one unique and individual, so that they each have special characters. And they don't have to be human––animals and aliens are great possibilities
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kiliki
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PostWed Dec 16, 2020 12:38 pm 
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I too would love more non-motorized sno-parks, and it's not because I think snowmobilers aren't polite, or that they are breaking rules, or that I want all the land for myself (I didn't get that attitude from the post above, either). I just want a quiet experience where I am not breathing engine fumes. Years ago my experiences at shared sno-parks turned me off permanently to using them--again, not because snowmobilers were doing anything wrong, but it was just so unpleasant to be exercising while they were constantly passing. It reminded me of going for a run along a highway. Most of us wouldn't choose to do that. It's a lot more peaceful to walk in Discovery Park in the winter than it is to use a trail with snow machines. (If there was such thing as an electric snowmobile, with no exhaust and little noise, that would be a game changer.)

I think also if you are fortunate enough to not have to use trails on weekends, you probably don't experience what others do. Even with Covid, many people are still tied to their desks on weekdays.
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Malachai Constant
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PostWed Dec 16, 2020 1:15 pm 
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An electric sled would be very hazardous on a shared trail because you could not hear it coming. Electric vehicles accelerate very quickly.

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Randito
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PostWed Dec 16, 2020 2:24 pm 
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Malachai Constant wrote:
An electric sled would be very hazardous on a shared trail because you could not hear it coming. Electric vehicles accelerate very quickly.

I recall similar concerns about electric cars a few years ago.  In that case Congress enacted legislation requiring vehicles to emit sound while traveling at low speed.

Given the nature of the snowmobile drive train with it's belt that drives the machine forward -- I doubt this will be a signifcant issue -- the paddles in the belt digging into the snow will certainly emit sound.   It just won't feel like a drill in your ear.

IME experience snowmobile riders are similar to other user groups -- in that the vast majority of folks act with consideration toward others and take appropriate safety measures.

But there will also be what I refer to as the "10% ass#### factor" where a minority of users act in inconsiderate or hazardous manner.     Like the knuckehead that passed close by me once and then gunned their machine spraying me with their "rooster tail"    An old nieghbor of mine was a sledneck and told me of a time where he was riding on Keechlus Ridge and when he slowed and moved over to the far side of the road pass an XC skier that they tried to stab him with their ski poles.   

One issue that ticks me off about the WA sno-park program the cost and the huge amount of resources that go into groomed snowmobile routes -- there is more than 20 times as many miles groomed for snowmobiles as there are groomed cross country ski trails.  WA skiers pay $80 for a sno-park permit, while in OR and ID a sno-park costs $25 and snowmobile also riders need to buy a permit -- whereas in WA a sno-park permit is included with snowmobile registration.

It would be great if there were more transparancy about the sno-park program's revenue and expenditures so we could know whether costs and resources are being equitablity shared between user groups.
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jinx'sboy
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PostWed Dec 16, 2020 3:06 pm 
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Just like summer motorized uses - the winter motorized users have agreed to ‘tax’ themselves....so a portion of the gas tax generated by gas sales (which isnt spent on highway maintenance) is set aside for grooming.  It FAR exceeds what ever $$ are raised by. son-park passes.

Here is one estimate I found.   I think it is current.  https://parks.state.wa.us/DocumentCenter/View/228/Your-Snowmobile-Dollars-at-Work
(whoops - I see it is from 2007....Same calculation still applies, I’d bet)
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Randito
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PostWed Dec 16, 2020 3:44 pm 
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jinx'sboy wrote:
It FAR exceeds what ever $$ are raised by. son-park passes.

Nothing in the link you provided gives a break down of revenue from either source -- nor a break down of expenditures by motorized / non-motorized usage.

The snowmobile program rightly should provide the bulk of the funding -- considering that 95% the miles of groomed trails are groomed for snowmobiles.

But since the sno-parks program doesn't seem to publish revenue and expenditure figures.

I had a conversation with some one that represent skiers on the "Central Cascades Winter Recreation Council​" and he didn't have good visibility into the budget break down either -- but indicated that he had some indication the most unbalanced between revenue and expenditures where the "sno-play" users -- that the state gets a big chunk of the revenue for the sno-park program from people buying "day" permits to access the sledding hill at Hyak and at Lake Wenatchee and the expensises for grooming and other maintenance for the "sno-play" areas is quite small compared to other users.
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rossb
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PostWed Dec 16, 2020 3:59 pm 
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kiliki wrote:
Years ago my experiences at shared sno-parks turned me off permanently to using them--again, not because snowmobilers were doing anything wrong, but it was just so unpleasant to be exercising while they were constantly passing.

Exactly. This is what I was getting at. It isn't just me. It is practically everyone.

Again, I point to Park Butte. It is one of the premier backcountry locations, in that you can easily access relatively safe, spectacular terrain. To get something in the same league you have to go all the way up to the other side of Mount Baker, or go all the way to Paradise. Yet if you go to Park Butte, you won't find that many people. There will be some folks on sleds, but overall, there just aren't that many people.

That is because everyone that isn't on a motorized vehicle has gone somewhere else. They are even going to ski resorts, and creating the parking problems that have been the focus of this post. Of course there are remote places where you encounter very few sleds. But by this very definition they are remote, and too far of a drive for the vast majority of people who want to get out in the winter.

Again, this was probably wasn't the case a generation or two ago. There just weren't that many backcountry skiers, and folks weren't that interested in snowshoeing. You wouldn't see an article in the Seattle Times about snowshowing. Speaking of which, they didn't bother to mention any of the places that also have snowmobiles. Not because they aren't scenic, or aren't fairly easy, but because hardly anyone wants to around the noisy, stinky machines. For example, they didn't mention Kachess Ridge. Instead they mentioned Amabalis, a trip that costs more money (since it is groomed), and takes longer before you get to views.

Or just look at the way the state organizes the snoparks. They put them into two big categories: Snowmobile and Non-Motorized. You can't get a map of the entire area, because in general, hardly anyone that isn't on a sled wants to go where they are allowed.

I'm not saying there shouldn't be areas where snowmobiles are allowed. Of course there should be. But the amount of terrain should roughly match the number of people that participate in the sport. Right now it is way out of whack, in that a lot more terrain is reserved for snowmobiles, and most of those without sleds hate being around them. Not because we have anything against folks who use them, but because they are extremely noisy and smelly.
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jinx'sboy
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PostWed Dec 16, 2020 4:35 pm 
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Randito wrote:
ticks me off about the WA sno-park program the cost and the huge amount of resources that go into groomed snowmobile routes -- there is more than 20 times as many miles groomed for snowmobiles as there are groomed cross country ski trails.

You asked and I gave you the reason; the two programs are entirely different and differently funded.  I worked with both programs for 30 years and am very familiar with the funding process for both

If you want some different breakdown? - go look for it yourself.  I’m sure Wa Parks and Rec can help you.

you are welcome.
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rossb
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PostWed Dec 16, 2020 4:45 pm 
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Yeah, if all snowmobiles were electric, I wouldn't have a problem with them. I've never encountered anyone who has done anything irresponsible. While on logging roads, folks slow down around corners and while passing (I usually wave). In open country, they tend to stay away from people.

It is all about the noise and the exhaust. The noise seems to be worse in open country (like Part Butte) while the exhaust seems to hang in the air on logging roads.
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rossb
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PostWed Dec 16, 2020 5:16 pm 
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a portion of the gas tax generated by gas sales (which isnt spent on highway maintenance) is set aside for grooming

Yeah, but you would have to do a study to determine how much of that is actually snowmobiles. They use gas to drive up to the mountains, and they use gas when they use their sleds. But lots of people -- including those who cross country ski and snowshoe -- use gas as well. I have no problem with the tax, but I'm not convinced that sledders are paying more than anyone else.

Personally, I don't care. If it was up to me, they would use the gas tax money to pay for non-motorized grooming as well. But that is a minor issue. I don't care how they raise the money (snopark permits are fine). What bothers me is the relatively small amount of places that are non-motorized, especially in Puget Sound (where the bulk of the people live).
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jinx'sboy
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PostWed Dec 16, 2020 6:08 pm 
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rossb wrote:
Yeah, but you would have to do a study to determine how much of that is actually snowmobiles

Which was done in the 1970’s or 80’s as I recall.  And likely repeated since. Then, the snowmobilers went to the legislature, with the help from WA Parks - and asked for and GOT a dedicated funding source; based on gas taxes being paid for use that is not on publicly maintained roads.

It isnt the amount that any recreation user would spend driving back and forth to where-ever they go.  It is the amount of gas used just “on-the-snow”.  And the $ amount of State gas tax on THAT gas is what goes into the grooming pot for snowmobiles.  PLUS the $ amounts that yearly license snowmobile registrations produce. Sounds like a pittance - but it isnt.

This is essentially the same funding mechanism that summer time ATV users have access to - funds generated by gas sold that is not used on public highways.  Again - it’s a lot of $.

I cant defend studies, or the amount, or whatever the legislature decided the method of apportionment is. It just is.
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rossb
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PostThu Dec 17, 2020 2:33 pm 
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It is the amount of gas used just “on-the-snow”. 

How does that work? Are there special fill-up stations, like they have for boats? I assumed that most people fill up their snowmobiles at a regular gas station, but I'm curious if that isn't the case.
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HikerJohn
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PostThu Dec 17, 2020 3:42 pm 
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So any intel on non-ticket holders being able to park at Crystal this year?   I saw last year the "parking lots full" signs, but didn't push my luck by driving up.

??

Cheers,  John
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Randito
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PostThu Dec 17, 2020 4:29 pm 
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HikerJohn wrote:
So any intel on non-ticket holders being able to park at Crystal this year?   I saw last year the "parking lots full" signs, but didn't push my luck by driving up.

??

Cheers,  John

I've toured @ Crystal 3 times so far since their opening day. (They were closed to uphill travel before lifts opened)   I've been arriving around 7AM and parking in the upper end of B-Lot (A-Lot is now paid permit only)   Last Sunday I finished my tour around 3PM  B and C lots were full ish.   D was half full , E and F lots had only a few cars and these appeared to be people playing in the snow and tailgating.
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