Over the past year, the thought had crossed my mind that I could feasible ski on Pinal Mt. With the big snow that blanketed pretty much everything over 4,500 feet, I knew this was just the window I had to make some tracks.
Being I live only 1.5 hours from Globe, I didn't split from town till about 7:00 a.m., and I was kicking by 9:00. I parked my car here, which is just past the left hand turn from FR 55 onto FR 651. Where I parked, the elevation was about 4,500 vf. This is as far up I as dared to take my car, since there was about 4" of snow at this level. I wasn't there first car up to drive on this snow, so the driving was pretty easy.
My plan was to cross country ski up the road as far I as I can get in 4 hours, then turn around. The snow on road had been mashed down pretty good by 4x4's and ATV's, but although fresh snow looks nice, I was moving up pretty good. I also knew that once I got to the tree line, that I would probably be the only human tracks on the road. And I was right, because there was tree after tree down across the road. I had to go over or under about a dozen trees that were knocked down due to the last storm.
As I got higher, so did the accumulated snow. It didn't long before I wash tracking through 18" of powder. Luckily it was a blue bird day, and other than the first 15 minutes I was in a t-shirt all day.
Once I got to the deeper snow, my pace slowed down. The downed trees didn't help, but certainly added to the landscape. I was hoping to have kicked up more miles than I did, but my 4 hour mark came at the when I was passing the Sulphide Del Ray Camp/Picnic Site. I continued just a little farther to the saddle where the road Madera Peak splits from FR 651. This is at 6,000 vf feet, so my the total climb up was 1,500 feet and 5.25 miles up.
The view from here was terrific. A small amount of clouds added to the contrast of the hyper blue sky, while the snow line on the south aspect of the hill was wasn't far below me.
It had been years since I had strapped on the cross country skis, and I had forgot how light and easy going they were. Heading down was nice, as I clung to the track I put in during my ascent. Things got kinda sketchy below when I got back down to where the trucks and ATV's had created an ice rink. I ate it several times over the last two miles back to the car. The lack of boot rigidity, no edges on my skis, standing on a 2" wide plank and skidding down the ice makes for a very clumsy ride. The tire tracks left me with very few options of killing my speed as I swished down the hill. I landed pretty dang hard a number of times.
My 10.5 mile/7 hour tour wrapped up at 3:00, with me walking down the last 100 yards to my car, since the snow had melted out while I was out having the time of my life.
Heading up to Six Shooter Trail, I've pedaled up this miserable road road several times before, but today was a nice change to do something that doesn't get done very often this close to Phoenix. The next time I pedal up this beast I will remember what a great day this was.
Here's a vid of the day: