Shoveling snow is becoming a life sentence in North Idaho.
But the cross-county skiing and snowmobiling couldn’t be better, even though downed trees are making it impossible to groom the trails at Fourth of July Pass Park N’ Ski. And a five-week power outage at Priest Lake State Park delayed the opening of its ski trails until this weekend.
Trail groomers, however, were setting fresh tracks at Farragut State Park Friday afternoon. The trails at Round Lake State Park, 10 miles south of Sandpoint, will get a fresh brush-up within the next few days.
The trails at Priest Lake will be freshly groomed for the first time this weekend. The trail within the state park will be ready by this morning.
The trail just north of Priest Lake State Park will be ready to go by the end of the weekend, said Larry Townsend, park manager. The trails normally are groomed at least once a week during the ski season.
The power outage, which began with rain on snow shortly after a heavy Thanksgiving storm, has closed the Priest Lake State Park store. The store is normally open on the weekends during the winter.
North Idaho skiers also can trek to three other Park N’ Ski sites run by the Idaho Department of Parks and Recreation. Snow Creek is 14 miles west of Bonners Ferry on Forest Service Road 402.
The Palouse Divide site is 18 miles east of Potlatch on Idaho Highway 8, near North-South Ski Bowl. Elk River Park N’ Ski is 20 miles east of Bovill on Idaho Highway 8. Current conditions were not available for these three trails.
On Jan. 11, people can ski for free at any of these state-run cross-country trails. Farragut will offer free beginner lessons and reduced rates on rental skis on that Saturday. Priest Lake is offering free beginner lessons.
There is equally good news on the snowmobiling front. Although a falling tree smacked a trail grooming machine a few weeks ago, it and another machine are still packing the powder, according to the U.S. Forest Service.
The snowmobiling trails at Fourth of July Pass and Fernan Saddle are getting regular attention.
Skiing and snowmobiling conditions should only improve. The National Weather Service figured on a couple of inches of fresh snow Friday night.
Today is expected to be cloudy, with a chance of snow, and high temperatures reaching the mid-teens.