February 23, 2010

Going for the Snow in SE Arizona

In honor of the Winter Olympics, we decided to leave the low desert behind and ascend into the high country and get to some snow. Hilina has mentioned several time that she wanted to play in the snow and make a "snowman". So, we hit the trail and climbed to over 7,000 feet in the Santa Rita Mountains just north of the Mexican border. The trail was 2.5 miles from the trailhead to the saddle. It was then a 3.7 mile descent back down to make for a 6.2 mile loop.

I will be posting a detailed description of this spectacular sky island that reaches 9,400 feet elevation on Mount Wrightson and the beautiful loop hike we did there. But, for this post, I'll keep it light and just touch on the basics.

The rainstorm that rolled by yesterday dumped several inches of fresh snow on the Santa Rita mountains. From the trailhead in Madera Canyon at 5,400 feet there was only tiny traces of snow. But, within a few hundred feet elevation this trace became a solid covering, and by Josephine Saddle at 7100 feet it was several inches deep.

We forgot Hilina's rainboots, so we tied plastic bags on her feet so she could go play in the snow. We did not end up making that snowman because the snow was too powdery and because it made her hands cold.

But, she loved the trip and when we descended below the snowline on the way down, she was asking me to take her back up. Umm, after descending 1600 feet in 3 miles, I was not about to go back up. That was OK- we saw wild turkeys at the bottom and the topic most definitely changed for her....

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