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Cyclopath
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PostWed Dec 30, 2020 10:05 am 
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asdf wrote:
I can't believe the Hyak sno-park costs $80/season and is still so crowded, it's nuts.

Grooming snow trails is expensive.  Cross country skis work dramatically better on groomed snow.  They're faster, easier, harder to crash, and more fun.  It costs $25 to use the Methow groomed trails for a day.  $80 for the whole season is basically free.

Hyak is a pretty boring place to ski though.  Flat like a pancake.
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Randito
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PostWed Dec 30, 2020 10:55 am 
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FWIW The reader board signs along I-90 have for at least the last decade displayed the message "Hyak Sno-Park Full"  from time to time.   So it's not a particularly new issue.  It has been getting progressively more frequently filled to the brim.

This year with COVID the level of crowding has exploded.    I think there are a combination of factors:  1) There is little else to do with kiddos, movie theaters, museums, indoor play spaces, etc are closed.  2) Kiddos (and adults) are crawling the walls to get out after weeks of zoom school/meetings 3) Nobody is carpooling,  so there are at least twice as many cars per person recreating.  For example the trips I organize ,  would typically have folks arriving in carpool of 3-4 people, but now it's 1 person per vehicle,  with the occasional cohabitating couple.

I certainly think we need more sno-parks, especially "Snow Play" sno-parks.   There are currently only two in the state, Hyak and Lake Wenatchee.  The lack of places for kids to go sledding leads all sorts of mayhem, with the WSP and county sheriff's being dispatched to chase people off hills on the sides of freeway ramps.

Of course building new sno-play facilities is like any other state construction project,  it will take years of planning and the state will get sued multiple tine during the planning process by various NIMBY type groups.
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Cyclopath
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PostWed Dec 30, 2020 12:11 pm 
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I would pay $10 more for my groomed snow park permit to fund free snow play areas.

Free because that's what the user group they would be for expects.  The sledders don't pay to use Cabin Creek, and most of the snowshoers who come for Amabilis show their Discover Pass.  (At least that's been observation as a nosy skier who can't understand why anybody would pay to walk up that mountain.)

Exit 47 is currently one of these places, the road on the N side of the freeway going to Franklin Falls and Alpental.  The road closes in winter, apparently isn't plowed anymore (?) and is used by families to get out and enjoy the snow.  I'm amazed when I drive by at how many cars are parked there.
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Brucester
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PostWed Dec 30, 2020 4:22 pm 
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Snoqualmie Pass recreation areas need an overhaul. IMO Come on, so close to a major city and activities seem so 1980's up there....Make a sledding area with lifts!!! Winter camping opportunities for tenters with rest room facilities not wanting to be near snow machines at SnoParks. Legal winter parking for snow shoer's going to Silver? Aerial Tram up Guye maybe a stretch but could be neat? Snoqualmie and Stevens are sooo tame and maybe lame?
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Randito
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PostWed Dec 30, 2020 6:19 pm 
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Brucester wrote:
Make a sledding area with lifts!!!

The Summit Tubing is exactly that.

https://summitatsnoqualmie.com/snow-tubing

But with COVID-19 they are limiting ticket sales to allow something resembling social distancing.
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rossb
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PostFri Jan 01, 2021 9:44 am 
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I ran across a pretty good example of the problem yesterday. I drove up to Kendall, but got a late start (for reasons I won't go into) and it was essentially full. Cars were turning around, while a handful of people were waiting for someone to exit the road towards Gold Creek (presumably there were cars parked all the way there, and beyond, to the end of the road).

I didn't go on to Amabalis, but should have. Instead I decided to go up to Talapus Lake trailhead. I figured I would drive until the snow got deep, then walk/ski the road. The road was closed about half way to the junction (with the Mason Lake Trail). The road hadn't been plowed, and there was a car stuck there (I had a shovel to help her out, but she had already called for help). Despite the road being closed at that point (with very clear signs) people had driven past it. I didn't. I walked the road until I could ski it. Other cars came up the road and I gave them a mouthful rant.gif about the road being closed. They turned around. It was an OK day (slush city) but made worse by the neither-here-nor-there nature of the closure. If it had been open, I probably would have gone to the top (more snow, less slush, while poking around in the woods). If it had been closed off better below, then the skiing would have been a lot better.

My main point is this would be a good place for a Sno-Park. Just block off both roads at the fork (an area where people can turn around fairly easily). Then plow it to that point. A very high percentage of the people at Kendal don't go very far from the car. They have little kids, and they just want to make a snowman, or slide down tiny slopes. That was also the case with this road. While I can sympathize with Cyclopath, cross country skiers are greatly outnumbered by snowshoers and folks who just want to walk a road and play in the snow. These are the folks that have very few places to go, and in an act of desperation (and/or ignorance) end up at Cabin Creek. A Sno-Park at Talapus/Mason Lake would provide a lot of people exactly what they are looking for, with a shorter drive to boot. It would start pretty low, but if you are on snowshoes, that's fine (and again, a lot of people are just tromping in their boots until it gets too deep). If they plowed the road, there would be quite a bit of parking, as it is quite a bit wider than the road to Gold Creek. (In both cases, they need to manage the parking better, and only allow parking on one side of the street -- it must be especially irritating for folks who live in the cabins in Gold Creek).

I regret that I didn't try the exit 47 area. That brings me to another issue: ignorance. It is pretty easy to find SnoParks. But areas where you can legally park and enjoy the snow are found by word of mouth, social media or websites like this. More SnoParks would help, but the cost is very high ($20) if you are only going out for one day. Having some free SnoParks (which is essentially what places like exit 47 and Foss River are) would greatly improve the situation. Given that the existing SnoParks are overflowing, I would imagine funding wouldn't be a huge issue.
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Randito
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PostFri Jan 01, 2021 11:28 am 
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In past decades there used to be a more sno-parks on the West side -- not I-90 -- but on HWY-2 and the Mountain Loop.    But they are no longer maintained as sno-parks.

There are a few sno-parks on the West Side along HWY-410, HWY-706, HWY-20 and HWY-542.   A number of these feature a high and a low parking area -- reflecting the variable snow line on the west side.

IME as someone that travels to Snoqualmie Pass weekly during the winter -- the variability of snow depth at Exits 42, 45 and 47 makes them a sub optimal sno-park location -- most years it only has decent coverage for a few weeks.  Also having a suitable sledding hill at any of these locations would require clear cutting , followed by stump removal.   

Also given how many people have been killed and injured by avalanches on Granite Mtn over the decades -- plowing the Granite Mtn parking lot at Exit 47 for use as a sno-park seems like a recipe for luring more people ignorant of avalanche hazards into trouble.
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rossb
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PostFri Jan 01, 2021 1:13 pm 
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Randito wrote:
the variability of snow depth at Exits 42, 45 and 47 makes them a sub optimal sno-park location -- most years it only has decent coverage for a few weeks.  Also having a suitable sledding hill at any of these locations would require clear cutting , followed by stump removal.

I don't think you understand how a lot of people use SnoParks. I mentioned this previously, and I'll do it again: a lot of people just want to mess around in the snow. They don't mind walking a closed road. They don't mind having very little snow. A lot of them don't have snowshoes or skis. A lot of them have toddlers, and just want to play in the snow. I ski the Kendall Lakes area a lot, and there are a ton of people doing this. In the morning, when I head up, there aren't that many people (it is almost all people in snowshoes and skis). While there are plenty of people scattered around on the road(s), I don't experience the huge crowds until I get close to the bottom. This is where I see all the folks walking (without snowshoes) or sledding on the side of a hill with their three year old. This is not first class sledding. This is not a first class outing in any respect, really. This is just messing around in the woods, and yet a ton of people are paying $20 (or more) just to do this. These folks would be fine with a low elevation lot. Of course it is sub-optimal -- that is more than enough for a huge portion of the population, especially if it was free. Oh, and while it might not be ideal, it beats the hell out of waiting an hour for a parking space.

Ideally you have variable parking, but a cheap and easy closure/parking area would take a lot of the pressure off of places like Kendall. This is true not only for those that just want to play in the snow, but it is true of those that snowshoe. It is much easier to carry your snowshoes than use them. Bare ground followed by deeper snow is just fine for snowshoeing. Lots of people would choose it over the more spectacular (but crowded) areas up at the pass simply because it is a shorter drive (the same reason a second rate place like Mailbox Peak is mobbed). Sure, you could drive farther and get much nicer views, but sometimes you don't want to bother with that (especially in the winter, and especially when they require chains at the pass).

Randito wrote:
Also given how many people have been killed and injured by avalanches on Granite Mtn over the decades -- plowing the Granite Mtn parking lot at Exit 47 for use as a sno-park seems like a recipe for luring more people ignorant of avalanche hazards into trouble.

And yet, they plow it now (apparently). If you don't know what you are doing and want to hike up to Granite, you would find a parking space about a half mile before the trailhead. That's not the point of the trailhead, it is for people headed the other direction. This is perfectly reasonable, as the vast majority of people understand that you are expected to go the other way (on road 58) or dink around in the picnic area, not that this is an invitation to go up Granite. But yeah, posting a sign that direction with a warning ("Extreme Avalanche Danger") would be a good idea right now, let alone if they improve the parking and publicize this more. Either way, making this more official (as a winter parking area, for the purposes of walking towards Denny Creek) would make it safer, not more dangerous.
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Randito
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PostFri Jan 01, 2021 2:22 pm 
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rossb wrote:
I don't think you understand how a lot of people use SnoParks. I mentioned this previously, and I'll do it again:

I'm very aware of this type of usage -- but unlike other sourpusses,  I'm not complaining about it.

I think it makes sense to expand the number of snowplay sno-parks and construct sledding hills and make efforts to advertise and promote their usage.

I'm well aware of the number of folks that use exit 42, 45 and 47 off ramps for a litte fun in the snow when snow is down at this level -- I'm also aware of the WSP and County sheriff's having to deal with citing people for doing so and well as the number of first responders that need to treat and evacuate people injured while sledding on any random hill they can find.

I think it would be state money well spent to create "free" sledding sites where kids can play in the snow without as much risk of getting hurt.

rossb wrote:
And yet, they plow it now (apparently)

If the WSDOT is currently plowing the Granite Mtn trailhead parking lot -- Isn't that essentially a fufillment of your request for a West side sno-park along I-90 ?
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rossb
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PostFri Jan 01, 2021 5:48 pm 
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Randito wrote:
If the WSDOT is currently plowing the Granite Mtn trailhead parking lot -- Isn't that essentially a fufillment of your request for a West side sno-park along I-90 ?

No. Come on man, please read what I wrote. This is the second time in row you ignored what I wrote, and then made a comment based on only a part of it. Last time you ignored the fact that lots of people just want to walk the road. Now you are ignoring the neither-here-nor-there aspect of parking along I-90. The problem is it isn't official, nor is it advertised as such. You can't find a website saying they are doing this. It isn't clear that this is an option. If you read about "non-motorized SnoParks", there is nothing west of the pass on I-90. Thus it is quite reasonable for someone to start by heading towards Gold Creek, then ending up at a place like Cabin Creek, just because they think it is the best option. This explains this thread. People aren't going to Cabin Creek because it is special (it had the same rain yesterday as the Talapus Lake road did). They are going there because they don't know any better.

And just to be clear, they aren't plowing to the Granite Mountain Trailhead (another point I thought I made clear). At most they plow the other direction, but I'm not even sure about that. It is quite possible they are only plowing the ramp area, like they do for just about every on-ramp and off-ramp. That was the case for exit 45 (the one I used).

That is a lot different than plowing an area for snow play. In that case, they plow much further. On exit 45, they could have plowed to where the road was closed. That would have prevented that poor woman from getting stuck, and it would have meant that a lot more people would have been able to park close to the closed road, instead of being scattered all over the place (close to the ramps, under the overpass, etc.). More than anything, it would have then been a decent choice for a huge number of people that now crowd the SnoParks.

Which is my main point! If they did a little bit more plowing, and made it official, folks would have the option of doing what they want to do in the winter, which is basically just to get out.

You can find a hundred and one reasons why people would not want to go there -- or why it is inherently dangerous, but the same can be said for Mailbox Peak. Yet on every sunny summer day, the place is crowded. I really don't care whether it is your cup of tea -- or mine for that matter -- a lot of people like it. The same could be said if they added (free) SnoParks off I-90, west of the pass. As for safety, it is a hell of lot safer if people have places to go which are well known, than if folks pick a random freeway exit, and venture off into the woods (which apparently is what you suggest they do).

OK, that isn't fair -- I have no idea what you suggest they do, since you haven't offered a solution, only a criticism of other, quite reasonable ideas. So, please, tell me what you think the state should do about the overcrowding? Be specific this time, as I was. Please tell me where you think they should add SnoParks, or other areas where people can get out in the winter.
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Foist
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PostMon Jan 04, 2021 10:43 am 
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rossb wrote:
That brings me to another issue: ignorance. It is pretty easy to find SnoParks. But areas where you can legally park and enjoy the snow are found by word of mouth, social media or websites like this.

Hi Ross, I agree with your point overall.  I would just point out that Green Trails maps have FS roads color coded to show designated areas for motorized and non-motorized winter recreation.
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PostMon Jan 04, 2021 4:17 pm 
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Cyclopath wrote:
New problem.

I was there last night.  In the rain.  At 11:30pm.  Nobody was there.  I don't see the problem.

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Cyclopath
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PostSat Jan 09, 2021 5:25 pm 
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I had to go to the vet this morning, so I got a late start.  The electronic billboard signs all said "all I90 snow parks full," I thought either they only meant Hyak and Gold Creek, or that they wouldn't be full when I got there, maybe both.  Even Lake Easton (70 miles from Seattle!) was turning people away.

Cabin Creek had people from the snow parks asking folks not to park in the freeway interchange.  In the parking lot there were a lot of new No Parking signs and "NO PARKING" spray painted in the snow on the S side of the lot.  A line of about 30 cars parked there anyway.

The people working there were very apologetic.  They were also thanking people who actually paid.  They were bemoaning the cars parked so that emergency vehicles wouldn't be able to get by.

The trails were in good shape, except the south loop which is a polished trench with a lot of urine on the trail.  I haven't seen that one groomed in a couple years, I think it's been abandoned to the snowshoers.
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PostSat Jan 09, 2021 6:09 pm 
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I was also there today with the kids.  We got there around 11.  Those people in the orange vests were telling people to turn around because it was so full but the reality is there were a lot of people leaving already so we just ignored the orange vests and got a pretty good (and legal) spot.  There was a policewoman writing tickets to all the cars parked on the south side of the road (where it says "no parking") and the orange vest people said that the cars were going to get towed.  We did the Amabilis trail which is somewhat less mobbed than the loop trails. But the number of snowshoers there was crazy to me.  Why would anyone want to trudge up and down a gradual logging road in the fog in snowshoes while skiers whiz by?  I also came across one dad and kid walking on the lower trail with a sled right down the middle, similar to what the OP described.  Maybe the craziest was a woman just walking down the middle of the Amabilis trail *carrying* skis.  But we managed to have a pretty good time considering the weekend battle.
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PostSun Jan 10, 2021 4:08 pm 
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Ha, I was there too. I thought I got an early start, but between needing gas and going on 520 from I-5 to the UW (not realizing it was closed) was delayed enough to hit a crowd. I could tell Kendall/Gold Creek was already packed. I almost parked where they painted the "No Parking". Someone was parking there (ahead of me) so I pulled in behind. Fortunately, someone behind me pointed out the small "No Parking" sign (I'm sure I've seen the signs before, but I usually get there in time to avoid all that). I managed to find a spot at the overflow lot (which means more walking).

I skied up to Amabalis and it wasn't too bad. I can understand why someone would snowshoe Amabalis on a busy day -- it was the only thing available. You hit Kendall, realize it is full, and figure that Cabin Creek might have some room. It did, but just barely, and probably not for long. I feel worse for the folks on A. T. gear -- they didn't even seem to be exploring the (few) opportunities for steeper, fresh snow in the area.

It wasn't until later in the day that officials spray painted the sides. I also saw a fair number of tickets. Crazy day.
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