Like a phoenix rising from the ashes, the Mt. Baker Winter Ride Bus has been reborn and is offering rides to the winter wonderland of Mt. Baker for all ages, from all islands.
The ski bus has run separately for years as an extra-curricular activity of the Orcas and San Juan Island school districts. This year, however, the program is being administered by the newly formed Orcas Island Park and Recreation District.
More than 25 schools from around the region participate in Mt. Baker’s Winter Ride Program, which offers greatly discounted lessons, rentals and lift tickets. In the past, students from each island boarded their respective districts school buses in the ferry line and rode the sometimes partially filled bus there and back.
This year, however, will be different. With the collaboration of both Orcas and San Juan Island groups, the cost (to Orcas participants) has been reduced and the program has been saved.
“Without this collaboration, neither Orcas nor the Friday Harbor groups would have been able to take advantage of this wonderful opportunity. It’s a great example of islanders coming together to provide a service to our islands’ families and residents,” said John Pachuta, Friday Harbor coordinator.
This year, participants will walk on their respective ferries, rather than board a local bus. On the other side, a charter bus will be waiting. Half-day lift ticket prices will be provided to all participants, regardless of age and arrival time (which is usually about 11:30 a.m., an hour earlier than the normal half day price time). In addition, the bus ride is available to any participant from any island, regardless of age.
Cost for the six-ride program (bus ride only) is $180. One-time riders can sign up for $50. The bus will depart from the Anacortes Ferry terminal at 9:15 a.m. and return at 8 p.m. on these Saturdays: 1/12, 1/19, 1/26, 2/2, 2/9 and 3/2. Currently 35 riders are paid and signed up, so there are 10 seats left for each trip, on a first-come, first-served basis. Other stops will be made on the return trip, which may include Bellis Fair Mall, Bellingham and Anacortes Pools and the Anacortes Bowling Lanes (costs not included.)
Sign up at www.orcasparkandrec.org or visit San Juan Island Fitness, Island Body in the Lopez Village or the Orcas Island Park and Recreation District office. You may also call coordinators Marcia West at 376-7275 or John Pachuta at 378-0886.