Winter weather forecasts have disappointed many times – but the New Year’s Day conditions lived up to the hype – snow covering all of the Santa Catalina Mountains and blanketing the desert – what a fantastic start to 2015!
At 10AM there was snow covering everything around the Iris Dewhirst Pima Canyon Trailhead – all wintery and white! There were quite a few cars in the parking lot and the first section of the trail was filled with people enjoying the snow – the views looking up the canyon were amazing!
After the first canyon crossing snow covered plants hung over the trail – not hard to push thru, but cold!
The footsteps in the snow disappeared before the dam…
After the dam the snow becomes subtly ever deeper and the trail becomes a little harder to find – even in good weather this section has fewer visitors – I pause occasionally to puzzle out a path.
The shoe prints ended over a mile ago – now there are deer tracks in the snow, it doesn’t take long to realize the the tracks are following the trail, for a time I simply follow them – the deer clearly knows this section of trail better than I do.
A sound draws my attention across the canyon and I turn to watch ice falling from rock walls – the deer tracks plunge steeply off the trail towards the bottom of the canyon – at the time I didn’t think anything of it, but in retrospect maybe they know the conditions better than I do… Minutes later the trackless trail crosses the canyon and I loose it on the hillside above, it takes a few zig-zags up and down the hillside to find it again. A few more minutes of trail and I am left standing in the bottom of the snow covered canyon trying to remember if the trail crosses onto the hillside above or stays near the canyon bottom – time to turn around.
Lower on the trail the conditions have changed – the plants that were covered in snow earlier are now standing straight again – wet, but without a hint of snow.
Pima Canyon Trail. 10.9 miles, 3000′ of elevation gain and loss.