Tuesday, March 01, 2011

More snow

I had been reading the weather forecasts last week. I knew there was going to be snow. Some forecasts said it would be as low as 2500 feet. Still, on Sunday, after listing to rain all night, I didn't think about going to look for snow. Just before noon, though, I got a call from somebody saying that I should take a look at the Superstition Mountains. So I grabbed my backpack and my camera bag and headed out the door. Forgot to eat lunch. Sure enough, there was quite a bit of snow on the Superstitions. There was also a very large, very dark, very ominous looking cloud coming from the northwest that was dumping something (maybe more snow) on the Flatiron, at the western end of the mountains. I probably should have taken a picture, but I don't like taking pictures in town. Power lines and light poles in my pictures really annoy me, so I try to avoid them.

I drove all the way out to the Hieroglyphic Canyon trailhead, even though I knew I would be too close to the mountains to get good pictures. I figured that I probably had enough pictures of the Superstitions with snow on them and I just wanted to look around. Of course, I took pictures, too.

The view from the Hieroglyphic Canyon trailhead. The Flatiron, and the black cloud over it, are out of view to the left. It's getting dark here, though. Damp snowflakes were hitting me before I left.

It looked a little sunnier to the east, and I could see a lot of snow on the mountains in that direction, so that's where I went. D**n the Renaissance Fair traffic and full speed ahead. Actually, I think a lot of people decided that it wasn't a good day to go to the fair. There wasn't much traffic at all.

I've always wanted to get a good picture of Picketpost Mountain from the west. With snow on it and the sun peeking through the clouds now and then, it would make a nice picture. The trouble is, there isn't any place to park with a good view of the mountain. I don't like the idea of parking on freeway shoulders unless it is absolutely necessary. I found a place to get a hundred feet or so off the road (and almost got stuck in the mud) but couldn't see the mountain. I was hoping I could after climbing a small hill, though. Before I started out, I looked back at the storm. I had gotten a little ahead of it, but now it was catching up with me again. I would have to hurry. I moved quickly to the top without taking any pictures of all the cool stuff I saw on the way up. Well, OK, I took a picture of a saguaro skeleton with snow on it. On the way up, I kept hoping that I wouldn't see another hill between me and Picketpost when I got to the top.

Not a bad view of Picketpost, but the clouds are catching up with me; no sun on the mountain.

Superior. The dark band above it is Apache Leap.

While I was on top of the hill taking pictures, the wind picked up. I had made sure I had at least one poncho with me before I left the house, but being caught in a storm when it's in the 30's wouldn't be fun. I hurried back to the truck and drove on in to Superior.

The storm approaches.

The rest stop in Superior. This is a lot of snow by Valley of the Sun standards.

I was too chicken to continue going east from Superior. The road climbs a thousand feet and I didn't want to drive on any snow, so I headed south on 177.

Looking back towards Superior from 177. The mountains north of it are hidden behind a wall of white.

Snow on saguaros.

A non-HDRI shows how dark it is to the north.

177 climbs gradually for a few miles, then climbs steeply to a pass. There are truck safety pullouts at the top on both sides of the pass, and each had a few people out looking at the snow. I stopped at both to take some pictures and was pelted by tiny balls of snow. I suppose there's some technical name for that kind of snow but I see snow so seldom I'm not going to bother looking it up.

It was snowing in front of me and behind me as I drove south.

A small open-pit mine made slightly less ugly by the snow.

Snow capped saguaros. That seems so out of place, kind of like a bikini at McMurdo Sound.

Snow at the mountain pass. I also took a picture of these people with their camera so they could all be in the picture.

On the south side of the pass, the road descends into the Gila river valley. Of course, there was no snow down there. I went a very short distance down Battle Ax road and climbed a small hill there to get some pictures. The clouds were clearing by then but there was a strong breeze from the north. I stood at the top of the hill for a couple of minutes taking pictures of the mountain to the east and was a little scared when I quit and it felt like the left side of my face had frozen into the goofy expression I make when I'm taking a picture. It thawed quickly when I got out of the wind. Whew.

That cloud looked awesome.

Landscapes look great in the clear winter air. The edges of these clouds look strange. I wonder if it's an HDRI artifact. I'll have to check the original pictures when my NAS isn't so busy (long story).

The wet ground and clear air made the Ray mine look especially colorful.

By the time I started back north, it was clearing over Superior. It was such a nice day, I decided to go east on 60 after all. The road was heavily traveled and completely clear.

Clear sky towards Superior.

60 climbs a canyon east of Superior, and it's very scenic there. There's a tunnel at the beginning of the climb where I've always wanted to take some pictures but have never stopped. I stopped this time, though, since I wasn't in a hurry to get someplace else.

At the uphill end of the tunnel.

The tunnel.

The area at the top of the canyon is called Oak Flat. In such rugged terrain, flat areas are rare and they always seem to have a name. Being flat, it had lots of snow and also lots of people playing in it. I went past there on Magma Mine road and took some pictures of snow on all the rocks. I kept thinking I needed to work on being more artistic with my pictures of the snow instead of just showing what was there, but my pictures are rarely, if ever, artistic, so I don't know why I kept thinking that.

An almost artistic picture of snow on a rock.

This almost looks a little artistic.

By the time I got back to the western side of Picketpost Mountain, the sun was shining on it and the snow was quickly melting. I took a few pictures from the road to the Picketpost Mountain trailhead.

It didn't take long for the snow to melt.

The sky was clear over the Supes when I got back there, and there was just a thin line of snow at the very top. I thought about getting some pictures from Silly Mountain, but by then I was way too hungry. I ate all the beef jerky in my backpack but it just wasn't very filling. Click below to see all of the pictures.


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