Spring finally is here, the baseball fields are busy, the tennis courts have come alive with players of all ages, the soccer pitches are filled, the Discovery Trail is jammed with walkers, runners and bicyclists and that means it’s time to take down the rope tows at Hurricane Ridge and call it a ski season.
It’s been quite a year for Hurricane Ridge, first with little or no snow to ski and snowboard on, then too much snow to get the road and parking lot atop the mountain open.
Early this month the road crews had to deal with 132 inches of snow, with high winds gusting over 50 miles per hour, which created massive snowdrifts reaching 25 feet high. Before this year, the road to the top was open Saturday, Sunday and Monday holidays and was passable 80 percent of the time.
Since the seven-day access began last year, the road was open 66 out of 84 pos-sible days, just over 78 percent of the time and those figures were before March 10, when the road was closed for five days in a row due to blizzard conditions.
Between Jan. 24 and Feb. 22, an average of 41 vehicles per day trekked to the ridge Monday to Thursday.
We saw an average of 127 vehicles per day use the road, with 435 on Feb. 19 and 434 the following day.
The money to keep the road open was encouraged to hike the count of out-of-area visitors to Port Angeles and increase the number of overnight stays, gasoline purchases and meals out. According to early figures, 78 percent of visitors used an annual pass; that suggests more area visitors than out-of-area.
Out of the weekend visitors, 31 percent used an Olympic pass, 30 percent a senior pass, 17 percent an America the Beautiful senior pass and 13 percent the National Park and Public Lands pass.
Has the $75,000 raised from local business, civic organizations and individual contributions and the $250,000 from National Park Service been well spent? At this point I say, no. If the average car visits were 70 or 80 each day of the week, I would say yes, but for an average of 41 cars a day during the week? Again, I say no. I hope all concerned will break down the final figures and make a decision about next year.
I would suggest they have the road closed Monday-Thursday, begin plowing and clearing on Thursday, so that the road could be open Friday through Sunday. If that were to be the case, then maybe the Hurricane Ridge Winter Sports Club could have the rope tows and Poma lift (or maybe a two-person chair lift) going those three days.
Just doesn’t seem like there is enough interest for people to drive the 12 miles from the entrance station to the top just to look at snow during the week.
I believe there is such a thing as too much basketball after watching the first two days of the NCAA men’s basketball tournament. It seemed to me that all the games looked about the same, very little planned offensive sets for shots, too many three-point castoffs and so-called analysts who used the same catch phrases over and over and over again in the same game.
Gonzaga’s easy win over St. John’s was great for Zag fans and the Huskies’ narrow win over Georgia was because the Dawgs missed too many shots in the first half.
Then came Saturday and BYU throttled the Zags, 89-67, as Jimmer Fredette erupted for 34 points and the Gonzaga season ended. Look for the Spokane team to make it again next year as they have some good returnees. Then came Sunday and the Huskies had to play North Carolina right in the heart of Tar Heel country. The Dawgs matched the Heels basket for basket, squandered an 11-point lead in the first half, then stayed in the game in the second half until a cold spell and a couple of turnovers in a row sealed their fate and it was an 86-83 loss to end the season.
Washington has a great squad coming back for next year, but sometimes the love of a three-point shot seems to do them in. Did the fact that the Huskies had to leave last Wednesday and travel 2,802 miles to play and that the N.C. boys were only 139 miles from home play in the outcome? Yes, fans, yes.
Reach Scooter Chapman at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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