Last week, WTA posted an article, “Weird Weather, Low Snowpack: What to Expect in an Usual Early Hiking Season” providing tips to hikers eager to hit the trails. It’s worth the read, with the overall message, “It's an odd season, and we'll need to rely on each other to stay safe and updated on the fast-changing conditions.” But can we really get excited about an extended hiking season without feeling just a touch of concern?
Right now, the biggest impact we’ve felt in the outdoor recreation market concerns a dismal ski season. Closures mean a bad season for enthusiasts, but also for Washington’s economy. Mount Baker’s slopes have managed some snow this year, but not enough to keep surrounding restaurants afloat. The Bellingham Herald reported in February that Milano’s, an Italian restaurant in Glacier, ceased operations. There just weren’t enough hungry ski-bunnies looking for a hearty bowl of pasta on their way home.
An early spring brings an early bloom, and residents of the Skagit Valley are a bit worried. Though it seems that early blooming tulips will in fact escape the perils of a sudden frost, they’re still arriving earlier to the party than expected. Keep your fingers crossed that a few blooms will be saved for the Tulip Festival come April. Yet another seasonal tourism economy at risk.
Looking ahead to summer doesn’t do much to relieve worries. Governor Inslee has already declared a drought in three regions of Washington state. "We can't wait any longer, we have to prepare now for drought conditions that are in store for much of the state. Snowpack is at record lows, and we have farms, vital agricultural regions, communities and fish that are going to need our support,” he explained. One of those regions is the Olympic Peninsula, home to the Hoh rainforest. The former logging town of Forks fears that a continuation of sunny weather might actually be bad for business. The town, now synonymous with the Twilight series, fears that vampire enthusiasts will be cheated if they don’t experience the rainy gloom they’ve read about.
Visit small businesses on mountain highways. Take advantage of the sun’s (supposed) effect on vampires, and visit a Forks free of tweens and aspiring paranormal romance writers. Join a work party--help repair trails sure to receive a beating this summer. Make use of this extra trail time to find a place in the outdoor community.