Most winter visitors to Tucson come here specifically to escape the cold; sunshine and temperatures in the 60's and 70's lure the 'snowbirds.'
But winter pays the occasional visit to the cactus-studded landscape. Although snow rarely falls all the way down to the desert floor, the mountains regularly turn white.
On this particular January morning, I thought that the storm might clear just in time for sunrise. I ran out the door with the camera, skipping breakfast. When the clouds lifted, there was the combination of cactus, snowcapped peaks, and rainbow: perfect.
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New Year's Day hike: pulvis et umbra sumus...
Sunny and 75 degrees on January 1st: a perfect day for a desert hike on Tucson's northeast edge, up to Blackett's Ridge. In the sky between Sabino and Bear canyons, the city feels a world away. No big cacti either; at this elevation, you're above the saguaro-line.
Words from the ancient Roman poet Horace come to mind: "pulvis et umbra sumus => we are but dust and shadow," echoing Job who earlier said: "man fleeth as a shadow..."
On Tucson's northeastern edge, reflective pools in Sabino Canyon offer a refuge from the urban and suburban sprawl. I often come in the early morning, or after work in the cooler months.
A historic road was built in the 1930s as a way to provide work and public improvements during the Great Depression; the road is now closed to traffic. This old path is an oasis for hikers, runners, and wildlife. For small kids, and those who aren't up to hiking, there's a park tram during limited hours.
Many people are surprised by the lushness of the desert canyons in southern Arizona. Here cottonwood and sycamore trees grow alongside the saguaro cacti.
Many who have not visited Arizona think that its saguaros grow in a Sahara-like setting...but the mountainous desert around Tucson hides many lush spots, like this riparian canyon on the NE edge of the city. Late fall paints the cottonwoods along the creek below cactus-studded slopes in Sabino Canyon. Hikers hike, runners run, and deer roam...