Pima Canyon Trail in the Snow, 1/1/2015

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!

1501 Looking up Pima Canyon
Looking up Pima Canyon – Winter Wonderland! January 2015.

After the first canyon crossing snow covered plants hung over the trail – not hard to push thru, but cold!

1501 Snow covering all the plants along the Pima Canyon Trail
Snow covered plants push into the Pima Canyon Trail. January 2015.

The footsteps in the snow disappeared before the dam…

1501 Rock and Snow in Pima Canyon
At the first dam looking up canyon with clouds swirling above. January 2015.

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.

1501 Snow around the Second Dam on the Pima Canyon Trail
Deeper snow blanketing the area around the 2nd Dam in Pima Canyon. January 2014.

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.

1501 Higher in Pima Canyon
Looking up canyon from the Pima Canyon Trail – eventually in the tight canyon ahead I lost the trail and turned around for the day. January 2015.

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.

1501 Later in the day on the Pima Canyon Trail with the snow melted
Lower on the trail the snow that had blanketed everything earlier in the day was gone – amazing to see it change so fast! January 2015.

Pima Canyon Trail. 10.9 miles, 3000′ of elevation gain and loss.

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