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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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It’s time to break out the cross country skis

Compiled by Rich Landers

Weekend snow storms left a great base for cross country skiing in some areas and a recipe for disaster in others.

Groomed nordic ski areas such as Mount Spokane are gleaming under the new snow with beautifully groomed tracks. “Call in sick, it’s gorgeous up here,” Steve Christensen, park manager, said Monday. The park’s trails are groomed Thursday through Monday during the season.

As soon as enough snow accumulated this weekend in Spokane, the city Parks and Recreation Department began grooming trails at Downriver Golf Course and in Riverside State Park on the Centennial Trail between Seven Mile and the Bowl and Pitcher Overlook.

A Washington State Sno-Park permit is required for parking at groomed nordic trailheads, including Riverside, Downriver, Mount Spokane and the plowed parking area at Sherman Pass, popular with backcountry skiers.

However, the avalanche hazard is considerable in the Sherman Pass area this week, said Keith Wakefield, Colville National forest recreation ranger.

The Kettle range picked up 24 to 30 inches of new snow from Friday through Sunday and the chance of the snow sliding on the slopes will not subside until the snowfall lets up and the snow pack is given time to settle, he said.

Test pits Sunday showed easy shears were occurring on multiple buried surface layers, he said.

On the north-facing slopes, the snow is bottomless, leaving skiers to wallow. “Even the folks with hover-craft wide boards were still striking buried objects,” Wakefield said. “So be patient, allow the pack to settle out. Look for settlement cones on the lodgepole (pines) to measure settlement in the days ahead.”

Cougar study program

Hugh Robinson, Washington State University wildlife researcher, will summarize the information gathered in an ongoing study of Eastern Washington cougars Wednesday at 7:30 p.m. during the Spokane Audubon Society meeting at the Riverview Retirement Center, 1801 E. Upriver Drive.

So far, the study has captured and put radio collars on 26 cougars in the northeastern corner of the state.

Idaho commission meets

The Idaho Fish and Game Commission will meet in Boise on Jan. 19-21 to set seasons for moose, mountain goats and bighorn sheep as well as consider the adoption of revised plans for white-tailed deer and long-term department strategies.

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