Thursday, January 8, 2015

Mt Lemmon Trip #1 Snow, Sledding, Amazing Views

        **Yet another great blog post first published in my newest blog series.  All about Exploring Arizona in pictures.   Please check it out and share the links if you like what you see!  **

                   I try to keep each new blog post as recent and fresh as possible.  Sometimes I really slip up on that---like the further down the road post I still need to do from our family trip to Lego Land California last October.  Today's post is from this very Friday.  I happened to have a rare weekend of no work, and we had never been to Mt Lemmon before.  With all of the talk of snow, the impulse rose to Explore the heights for the first time.   I was already very impressed to see three inches of snow on the ground around Benson early New Years Day on a very slippery commute to Tucson for work.  Being impressed soon vanished, as I realized how un-prepared this area is for even a trace of snow or ice.   After hours of rain that night, the snow had turned to mostly ice on the roads.  It got bad enough that semi truck drivers were pulling over to the side of the highway and not driving on.  And they usually roll on through anything---I believe there is even a country song about that.  I passed fourteen vehicles in the ditch.   Mostly bigger SUV's -whose drivers often think because they have four wheel drive, they can drive 90 MPH even on ice.   This usually just means they stop just as badly as those of us with bald tires, if they do not know how to handle ice--and that there rig is probably very top heavy and ready to flip over!   I grew up in Wyoming so was not really nervous about my driving skills, but very worried and white knuckled the whole way because of all the non winter state drivers on the highway.

        We joined the masses for sure to view the mountain.  I guess snow really is as rare as I thought in this part of Arizona.   Although I have seen a lot of snow years ago during the brief time I lived in Flagstaff.   The mountain was packed with snow enjoyers of every kind, shape, sport, and size.  On the way down that afternoon near the base, the road was closed and the Sheriff's patrol was letting up only one car every time one came down the hill.  A line of people waiting to see the snow extended for miles and miles.  I just read that as of the sixth of January---10,000 people had made the trip since the first!      Whatever the numbers---it was amazingly busy.  We have never been to Mt Lemmon before so I do not know what is normal.  

I do know after about an hour of sledding we tried to visit the ski lodge.  Both to see what it looked like and to score some hot chocolate.
People and vehicles lined both sides of this road also. 
At the lodge parking lot a Sheriff stood--the parking lot was apparently packed to breaking point and he was sending people away.   Turning around in the narrow of the road with our large "redneck" truck was not the easiest task.  I am still not sure why there were no signs at the beginning of the road to the lodge, where turning around was easy.  

One of the first look outs on the way up. 
This is also where we had a quick lunch.
I kept note of the many trail heads we had already passed.  
Already adding to my huge list of places I want to Explore more.

No signs of snow yet.  

New & old.

I am not sure of the temperature on this day
but it was not warm.  When we left Tucson that morning it was not yet 40 degrees.  And of course the higher we climbed the colder it got.  

Further up --at another of the many turn outs   bigger traces of snow. 

I was told that on New Years Eve the summit say twelve inches of new snow.  I am not sure how much was already on the mountain.  

Our mighty Huskie loved roaming around in the snow.  And seemed to feel right at home. 
While we kept tromping around in the increasingly deeper patches--you could not even tell that he was a 15 year old.  

Mr Butch our Pit Bull --that doesn't know he is a Pit Bull
did not seem to know what to do in the snow.  
Or really even enjoy it at all.  His time out of the truck was very short lived.

Santa's summer home here in Arizona!?

The water was still flowing   so it could not have been as cold as it seemed out.  

At some where around the top of the road and about an evelation of 8500 feet we found this great closed road to go sledding on.   This trip all got set in motion a few months ago when I was digging our Christmas stuff out of storage.  I came across three sleds that we hauled with us all the way from Washington state in our move --over a year ago.  They have never left the shed.  Had never left the shed that is now.  
One slightly sour point of the whole trip.
And if this is the most I could muster up to complain about, I guess life is good!

So at one point we found a great place for the kiddos to sled---and I moved our Redneck pickup close to the hill so that we could watch for head injuries and such from the comfort of the heated vehicle.  I allowed plenty of room to pull out of the parking spot when the snow fun was done.   Some white  very new looking SUV decided to park right on our back bumper and we had a truck right in front of us.   We were not off the road in the snow, so if we had real tires, exiting should have not been an issue.  
But our back tires just spun on the ice. 
Fun but not very productive. 
After jumping out of the truck to see what my tire spinning had accomplished  I realized that I had flung black road muck all over the once white SUV. 
I than realized that about 23 Mexicans were now surrounding our truck. 
I really did not want an audience so I slammed the truck in park and turned off the key. 
I soon realized that the onlookers were not ready to snap pictures, but wanting to help us. 
They were even willing to push the truck onto the road, if the four wheel drive did not kick in. 
Something I was not sure about, because I have not needed to engage it since living in Washington almost two years ago now.  
Anyways they helped lock our hubs, so I did not even have to get out of the truck.
And when we soon sped out of the slick sparking space, I yelled out the window, echoed by many yells, and alas clapping!
Good thing I did not yell out my Mexican call I guess. 
More of them might of appeared and knocked us into a much deeper section of snow. 

Once down the mountain I managed to get a few neat shots in.  
From all around the town.  
More about these and many more in a future blog. 
For all of my Exploring   of course keep checking back on this page.
AND go to my first and longest running Exploring page at

I pass this cactus just off I-10 all of the time in my work commute. 
And finally had the time to snap a close up picture. 
The cactus appears to be almost bowing to us 
after many years of great performance.

Near the above cactus...

And  now roaming near "A Mountain."
Again I have a whole Exploring blog post coming about this area.

As always

**Happy Trails!!**

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