Strange snow year forced adjustments

SUNDAY, DEC. 28, 2008

Unlike the huge dump of snow in Spokane last week, the snow in the 2007- 2008 winter came more gradually and steadily, and it disappeared the same way.

Recreationists had to adjust.

Mount Rainier at Paradise recorded 78.9 feet of snow — the fifth highest on record and the most since 1972.

Hunters braced for more restricted fall hunting seasons as they saw the toll the deep snow was taking on big-game.

Inland Northwest skiers had little trouble embracing one of the best powder seasons in memory, but they had new spring priorities to sort out. After a slow start, some resorts, including 49 Degrees North,z set all-time visitor records.

“These numbers are remarkable because we had no November,” said Scott Kaden, Pacific Northwest Ski Areas Association president.

The snowpack lingered so long, Silver Mountain set a record for its longest lasting ski season by opening chairlifts on weekends through June 1.

Wild turkey hunters found most hunting areas under snow for the April 15 opener, and it lingered in valleys for weeks.

The slow snowmelt forced river runners to postpone whitewater trips about two weeks later than their traditional dates before a superior river season unfolded.

However, the flows were still so high in mid-June, the Spokane River Canoe Classic race was moved to Long Lake.

National Forests in the Inland Northwest took baby steps toward getting hikers on the trail and visitors into campsites. Very little above the valley bottoms was open for Memorial Day weekend.

Along the St. Joe River, a road slide about a mile upstream from Fly Flat Campground blocked early access to the Red Ives area.

Volunteers were a big help in the effort to clear trails when snow receded and they finally had access.

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