With COVID-19 shuttering most in-person events over the past year, the Friends of the Scotchman Peaks Wilderness group has doubled down on winter hiking.
As of Friday, the nonprofit advocacy group has a dozen scheduled winter hikes available on its website.
“Those are all great portals to engage people and get them out there,” said Phil Hough, the executive director of Friends of Scotchman Peaks Wilderness.
Although the group has always offered winter hikes, this year’s expanded focus reflects the fact that many traditional outreach methods aren’t available due to the pandemic.
It’s also in response to increased growth in the Sandpoint area. Hough has observed more people moving to the area from larger cities.
This turns Sandpoint, Hough said, into the “new Zoomtown.”
“It does shift some things in terms of how can we be effective with outreach,” Hough said of that trend. “If there are new people coming into the area, we’d like them to hear about the Scotchmans.”
During previous years, the group would offer between six and eight winter hikes.
This year, to maintain social distancing protocols, hikers must drive themselves to the trailhead, Hough said.
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