A Shoulder Season Survival Guide

When the spring slush and slate-gray skies turn you blue, there's still plenty to do

By Beacon Staff
Roadmap to the shoulder season, pictured along Flathead Lake on March 16, 2017. Greg Lindstrom | Flathead Beacon

As the dregs of winter settle over the Flathead Valley, the grip of post-hibernal purgatory has seized the legions of powder-drunk locals fresh off a three-week skiing bender, holding their spirits captive while the vernal equinox casts its witchy spells of weather.

Delivering a range of atmospheric phenomena, from monsoonal melt-water and slate-gray skies to spring sunshine and creamy groomer runs, the shoulder season’s slushy bouts of manic depression can easily erode our daily resolve, tempting us to wile away the weekends indoors, reading and basking in the glow of a happy light.

To escape the melting miasma, we might reminisce about winter’s glorious streak of recent powder days while reorganizing the gear room, which has been distressed by a four-month flurry of skis, poles, misplaced goggle lenses, soggy base layers, orphaned mittens, fossilized ski socks, and boot-liners that smell like boiled muskrat.

Or we stave off the shoulder season’s rigor mortis through travel, jet setting off to warmer climes or road-tripping to the desert.

But as we wait for winter’s bounty to transform into the spring green of leaves, there’s a heap of opportunities in our backyard.

Fly-fishing guides are offering early-season floats while passing the evening hours tying emerger patterns in the shop. Nurseries are prepping for spring by re-planting petunias and bagging peat moss. Local hoteliers are offering deals on accommodations to those on the lookout for a stay-cation.

Because we all ride out the seasonal fluctuations together, the Beacon has compiled a guide to surviving the shoulder season, featuring suggestions on how to indulge your outdoor-recreation needs, showcasing a suite of must-do events, and offering advice on how to ready yourself for spring’s glorious arrival. -Tristan Scott 


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