By Ashley Lodato
Weather forecasters call it a “wintery mix;” we call it “rain.” Sunday’s storm gave us an additional few inches of snow on the trails followed by an extended drizzle. While the snowpack can handle it, the warm temperatures and moisture make trails very soft and more difficult to groom.
Under state and county guidelines a face covering is not needed when you are outside walking, exercising or otherwise outdoors as long as you are able to stay 6 feet away from other people who do not live with you. However, at trailheads, busy trails, bathrooms, any indoor spaces and trail intersections please be ready to pull a mask over your face to keep recreational areas open and trail users safe.
A regular series of storms is treating us well this year, keeping the trail conditions fresh for more than two months now. The recent rain will, as soon as things cool down again, create fast conditions on the skate platform and some potentially icy hills. Visit www.methowtrails.org/trail-report when planning your ski to find out where the best conditions are. Some trails are dog-friendly; make sure you know which ones they are by visiting www.methowtrails.org/index.php/ski-trails-for-dogs. Trail passes are required for humans and canines.
The Nordic trails at South Summit are generally groomed for weekend use. Visit https://skitheloup.com/nordic-skiing for trail conditions and grooming updates. Parking passes are required.
The recent wet and warm weather pattern has made it difficult to groom and has left the trails susceptible to damage. Cold nights are forecast to return over the next few days but until then, fat bikers are asked to stay off of the trails if they are soft at all. Methow Cycle & Sport provides the most comprehensive list of fat biking trails and conditions in the Methow Valley. Visit www.methowcyclesport.com/articles/fat-bike-trails-conditions-pg187.htm for more information and trail suggestions. Parking passes are required.
If there was ever a year for snowshoes, this is that year; in ungroomed areas, the weight-distributing footwear is essential. Groomed snowshoe trails can be found on the Methow Trails system in Mazama, the Rendezvous, Winthrop and Sun Mountain. Check the website for conditions: www.methowtrails.org/trail-report. Trail passes are required.
It’s a banner snow year at Loup Loup Ski Bowl, which is open from 9 a.m.-3:45 p.m. on Wednesday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday. The luge is open weekends only and requires advance reservations. The lodge cafeteria will be closed for the season; users should bring their own food or purchase from the Mountain Meals food cart onsite (weekends only). Equipment rentals are available onsite. Check https://skitheloup.com for info, updates and operating schedule.
When the February thaw rolls around, as it inevitably does, skaters thank the foresight of those who drove the refrigeration movement at the Winthrop Rink, and the resulting four months of reliable ice. Visit the website for schedules and rates. http://winthroprink.org.
Davis Lake and Patterson Lake are the lakes of choice for ice fishing, pond skating and even off-piste Nordic skiing. Need an ice fishing guide? Try Heavy Hitter Guide Service: www.facebook.com/HeavyHitterGuideService/community.
The Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife recommends 4 inches of ice for ice fishing and 9 inches for snowmobiling. Check these websites for more information about conditions and license requirements: https://okanogancountry.com/fishing; https://wdfw.wa.gov/places-to-go/weekender/north-central.
Recent reports from Patterson Lake include ice thickness of about a foot; 13- to 14-inch long rainbow trout caught in depths of about 50 to 55 inches; perch and other pan fish like blue gill and crappie are found in shallower waters and on the north end; and Kokanee remain elusive.
Winter fly fishing
Winter fly fishing is actually a thing. Those interested in honing the craft during Methow Whitefish season can do so with Methow Fishing Adventures: http://www.flyfishersproshop.com/blog/guiding.
The Methow Valley’s six Sno-Parks provide access to 175 miles of groomed snowmobile trails and connections to other areas of the region.The Methow Valley Snowmobile Association organizes group rides and reports on conditions; check their website and social media for conditions, grooming, event information, and trail use/management concerns: http://mvsnowmobile.blogspot.com; https://www.facebook.com/methowvalleysnowmobile.