It used to be so simple. Grab gear, drive to the Cascades, strap on the equipment and take out across the snow.
It’s not so simple anymore, especially when you’re using a Washington State Sno-Park, a plowed parking area, and groomed trails and sanitation.
Those amenities costs money, so your money helps pay for grooming, snow removal, maps, brochures, signage, bathroom and, yes, enforcement.
Here’s a quick guide to what is required:
- Snowmobilers need to have a snowmobile Sno-Park permit. They’re free when residents register their snowmobiles at the state Department of Licensing website.
- All nonmotorized winter adventurers, such as snowshoers and cross-country skiers, need a $40 seasonal nonmotorized Sno-Park permit.
- Only out for the day? You’ll need a $20 one-day Sno-Park permit plus a $30 annual or $10 daily Discover Pass, plus those pesky handling fees.
- Going upscale and visiting specially groomed trails in the system? You’ll need a $40 special groomed trail permit in addition to your seasonal nonmotorized permit.
- But (!) if you’re using a one-day Sno-Park permit and a Discover Pass, you don’t need to display a special groomed trails permit.
- Sno-Parks with those special groomed trails include Cabin Creek, Chiwawa, Crystal Springs, Hyak, Lake Easton, Lake Wenatchee, Mount Spokane and Nason Ridge.
- Since the devil is in the details, go to www.discoverpass.wa.gov for more information, including a list of where and how to buy passes, and where to place it (or them) in your vehicle.
Still time to count beaks: Our state has 46 official Audubon Christmas Bird Counts scheduled.
The longest running citizen-science survey in the world, the CBC provides critical data on bird population trends.
All of the official counts are within designated areas, and long-running ones have traditional spots within those areas to look for birds. But many counts also include what you might tally the day of the count at your own backyard bird feeder.
Although the Everett area count is complete, volunteer bird-counters are needed for coverage in Edmonds and south Snohomish County on Saturday. Contact Duane Karna, 425-776-5756, to volunteer.
Such a deal. The North Cascades Institute is offering gift certificates with a twist:
Pay $80 and receive a gift certificate worth $100 toward most 2014 institute programs. Call 360-854-2599 or email email@example.com for information. The offer is valid until Friday.
Columnist Sharon Wootton can be reached at 360-468-3964 or www.songandword.com.