OUR CORNER: Mountain sports a big winter draw

I believe the rock at Crystal Mountain is magnetic. When the snow starts falling, it has the power to pull cars past our front doors and right down the three highways that lead to it.

Sometimes it just takes the whisper of snow to start the pilgrimage.

They come to worship deep powder and wicked terrain.

I’ve been there. I’ve strapped skis to the top of the car and headed up.

The statistics of just how many folks ski or board at Crystal Mountain is not at my fingertips, but I’ve got to believe they’re impressive.

But it’s not just skiers and boarders who head east on state Route 410.

Between Thanksgiving and about the third week in December, hundreds, perhaps thousands, of families flock to Forest Service roads in search of the perfect Christmas tree. I’ve seen them. I’ve been one of them.

There are a number more who go for the three Ss – sled, snowmobile and ski (the cross country style).

There are thousands, millions maybe, of people who head up to Crystal Mountain and Mount Rainier during the summer months as well. They hike. They camp. They head to Yakima. They ride dirt bikes. They show off The Mountain to out-of-town guests.

Been there, done that, too.

I’ve been part of and watched this ritual year after year since I was a youngster in Enumclaw, and I still marvel at the fact the business community and neighboring cities haven’t been able to fully tap into this phenomenon.

Sometimes I’m an early Saturday morning grocery shopper, amazed at the number of folks stopping for gasoline, filling up on coffee and picking up chips, Gatorade and fruit for a day on the mountain or in the woods.

They’re hanging in line at Starbucks with me as I get my morning cup of Pike.

I’ve met those skiers and snowmobile riders on the return trip, stopping for dinner at some of our local restaurants as well.

So I ask community leaders and entrepreneurial types, what can the community offer these visitors? More restaurants? More places to stay? More mountain-gear shopping? More après ski opportunities? What will make them want to stay and hangout in Enumclaw, Buckley, Black Diamond, Greenwater and Bonney Lake? How can we become more than a wave and a quick pit stop on the way to the Mountain? How can we partner with the folks at Crystal Mountain to become a destination for all seasons?

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