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The Rugged Tramper: A Snowy, Superstitious New Year!

MOUNTAIN SHADOWS

A crisp afternoon descends over the Superstition Mountains

What a way to bring in 2015 with snow in the desert! It's such a rare thing here in Arizona's Sonoran Desert.  New Years Eve was a chilly one. In fact, the thermometer was lower here than several cities in both Canada and the U.S that are known for their winter temperatures.  As it rained here on New Years Eve, the chill of the evening prefaced what was to come the following morning.  Upon waking on New Years Day, the peaks and foothills surrounding Metro Phoenix were blanketed with snow giving the feeling of a fresh start for the new year.

I decided to take a drive out to the eastern outskirts of the city to the fabled Superstition Mountains.  Whenever the rare event of snowfall occurs in the Valley of the Sun, the Superstitions are guaranteed to receive its share.  I also wanted to get out and do some hiking; a tradition I've carried out on New Years Day for many years.  It's an especially therapeutic, cleansing and rejuvenating feeling to get out into the wilderness on the first day of the year.

FIRE AND ICE

The warm glow of New Years Day over the Superstition Mountains

After a muddy drive into the trailhead of Peralta Canyon, I quickly ascended the switchbacking Bluff Springs Trail to a ridge that gave way to an expansive, majestic view of the inner network of desert and mountains of the Superstition Wilderness.  The late afternoon light cast deep shadows across the desert floor, which was covered with hundreds of iconic Saguaro cactii. The vastness of the scene made the towering Saguaros look more like a forest of toothpicks. The low angle of the winter sun made the surrounding peaks glow like a fiery furnace of jagged rocks.

KNARLY SAGUAROS

The iconic Saguaro cactus and their twisted arms

Everything around me felt fresh and new with the recent snow.  There was a clean, crisp feel and smell in the air.  The only sound I could hear was the dripping of melted snow off the plants and the occasional heavier sound of a clump of snow breaking free from the clasp of a tree branch. The ground was wet and soggy and my footprints were the first of the new year on the trail. I came across a troop of backpackers making their way deeper into the wilderness to spend a few nights.  They all had a cheery disposition accompanied with an optimism in their step as they trekked out into the start of a new year.  I was immediately envious, although I hoped they were prepared for the cold nights ahead. 

PRICKLY SNOW

A prickly pear cactus is surrounded with fresh snow fall

I decided to take in the immaculate view one last time before I turned around to go back to the trailhead.  I enjoyed the peacefulness around me. I also marveled at the fact that I was sitting in an environment that was perhaps feeling a little out of its comfort zone.  As I sat there on that pile of rocks on a crisp, fresh New Years Day, hope and optimism for the year ahead enveloped me, and I couldn't have felt any more comfortable.

DESERT VISTA

The expansive, wintry Superstition Wilderness

Happy New Year from us here at Imagetramp!  2015 marks our third year and we're looking forward to bringing you more photography and travel stories.  Cheers!