Headlamps already?

Long-summer days are getting shorter as we near the fall equinox on September 22nd. It seems like only yesterday when headlamps were an after-thought on camping trips, and this week for the first time all summer, I needed a flashlight while leaving the driveway for the Skyles Overlook.  I love seeing the world come alive early in the morning…shadows emerge, animals stir, and solitude looms. Next time you have the opportunity to wake up before sunrise, take a walk on the Whitefish Trail without your headphones. It’s the perfect place to watch the sunrise over Columbia Mountain.

We have been fortunate this year to experience frequent moisture and no major storms. The combination perfectly timed rain and calm weather has kept the tread in excellent shape and trees off the trail.  We have gotten reports from Swift Creek and Dollar Lake that the trail is in great shape for all activities.  Although typical August dust exists in the afternoon, it is a far cry from the woes of last summer!  We do know about one tree in Dollar Lake that is down but not blocking the entire trail.  If you hear about any other adverse trail conditions, please let us know.

In addition, Grouse Mountain Estates performed routine trail work and maintenance along the Woods Lake Overlook Loop this week.  They removed some overgrown brush, cleared drains, and removed problem rocks.  The crew also reported that during their 3 hour work session, about 12-15 trail users passed offering thanks!  I was both excited and surprised to hear that over a dozen trail users were exploring such a secluded section of trail on a Monday morning!  I also wondered how many people use the trail on any given day.

Over the next year, WLP will undertake an economic impact study of the Whitefish Trail.  We will collect real, hard data counting how many users (and pups) are enjoying our community trail.  We will also determine if the trail brings increased tourism dollars to town.  I have a hunch…don’t you? How many people do you think use Lion Mountain on the average Saturday? 200? 500?  These numbers will help shape long-term funding priorities and will shed light on the importance of protecting access to open lands. We will keep you posted on the progress and share the numbers when they arrive.  Stay tuned!