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Snowy Weather in Wrightwood brings up lots of tourists and frustrates locals

Snow+players+enjoy+the+snow+in+the+wash+on+Lone+Pine+Canyon+Road+%28Kathleen+Holman%29.
Snow players enjoy the snow in the wash on Lone Pine Canyon Road (Kathleen Holman).

Snow players enjoy the snow in the wash on Lone Pine Canyon Road (Kathleen Holman).

Snow players enjoy the snow in the wash on Lone Pine Canyon Road (Kathleen Holman).

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  On December 23, 2016, Wrightwood got its first legitimate snow accumulation amounts. Because the storm came over the holidays, this attracted many tourists. This particular winter season so far has already brought more snow than past recent seasons. A storm over the Martin Luther King holiday weekend brought, even more, tourists up to the mountain. When in line to go up to Blue Ridge at Mountain High, a worker announced that the Martin Luther King holiday weekend was going to be one of the busiest Mountain High has ever had in 5 years. A recent storm that began on January 19 and lasted until January 23 brought the school district three snow days.These three most recent storms brought a total of 18.5 inches. Overall, in this 2016-2017 winter season, there has been a grand total of 41.5 inches of snow which soars past last season’s total of 23 inches. Locally, Mountain Hardware on highway 2 estimated that they have sold about 5,000 sleds over the winter season so far.

  Particularly, many locals become very frustrated with some of the behaviors some of the tourists have when they come to visit Wrightwood. Most popularly, many locals have become frustrated with excessive amounts of traffic on the local roads. Mr. Sullivan commented that “In the last few weeks, it has taken me about 30 minutes to go from Hillside church back home. Most of the time, if the traffic is substantial, we will stay home or plan a trip where we won’t return until late in the day.” Mrs. Sullivan said it would take her “usually 1 hour” and “I have heard of others that top 3 hours.” On Christmas Day at 6:00 p.m. my family and I had to take what would have been a 5 minute trip across town to a family member’s house, however, it took 30 minutes because both routes to get there were clogged and full of traffic. Hailey Andross (12) said, “we had to go all the way around and up Lone Pine Canyon Road to get home from church on Sunday because of how bad traffic was”. Over these winter snow weekends, some people began to sell food on the side of highway 2 for all the people traveling up to Mountain High or to play in the snow.

  Typically, 138 and highway 2 are the most popular or known routes to get into Wrightwood and up to Mountain High. However, traffic has significantly increased because many GPS and mapping systems have begun to pick up the back roads that many locals use. These routes include Lone Pine Canyon Road and side roads that run along highway 2.

  These changes are very unfamiliar to locals. Mr. Walczynski said, “With the drought that we have had the past few years, we have not had to deal with the tourist traffic at all, so it has been a bit of a shock to see the snow and the tourist invasion this winter. When asked if significant changes have occurred to Wrightwood, Mrs. Walczynski commented “I’ve lived in Wrightwood nearly my entire life. Sure, more people come up to play in the snow and ski and board than when I was little, but that’s because the population of the high desert and Inland Empire has grown so much since then and there are a lot more people from nearby who’d like to visit.”

  As many locals become very frustrated and upset with the excessive amounts of visitors, sometimes it is often forgotten that many of these visitors do not have the advantage of living in such a beautiful place in the winter. When asked if the traffic ever caused thoughts of wanting to move out, Mr. Sullivan said, “My wife and I did have this discussion when we were looking at the traffic, the illegally parked cars, and individuals trying to play in any scrap of snow they could find, but we have to remember that people come up to Wrightwood because we do live in a special place that us residents sometimes take for granted. It does help me to think of one of Jesus’s greatest commandments – “Do unto others as you would want them to do unto you.” So next time I’m the tourist in a place (e.g. Hawaii, Yosemite, London, etc), I need to leave the place better than I found it since that’s what I expect for my area.” This is a significant reminder that many locals need to particularly keep in mind and remember. Many of us vacation to National Parks, other cities people call home, and even the beach. We all need to remember to be responsible and respect these areas and ultimately remember many people call these places home. This ultimately is the message many locals would like to get out to the tourists who come up to visit. The business is greatly appreciated, but it is a significant reminder to remember to treat Wrightwood with respect as well as its locals.

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Snowy Weather in Wrightwood brings up lots of tourists and frustrates locals