Skiing Southern Style

mtlemmon2

The day was the kind that draws snowbirds to Arizona, warm, sunny and dry. The sort of mid-winter day that we could spend by a swimming pool, but we had a different idea… skiing.

No, not water, but snow. How could we do that on an eighty degree desert day? By driving the short stretch up Mount Lemmon to America’s southern most ski area, Ski Valley.

ta9Even though the slopes are high enough in the Santa Catalina Mountains to get several feet of snow each year, the ski area only opens when conditions are right.

They don’t make snow, usually it is not cold enough, so Mother Nature has to provide the flakes.

Fortunately for us a big storm had just dumped about three feet of the white stuff up on the mountains a few days ago. So much fell that the road up to the ski valley had to be closed, but we, and a bunch of other enthusiasts from nearby Tucson, finally did get a chance to get to the fresh trails.

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The drive up Mount Lemmon was gorgeous, going from sizzling arid desert to frigid alpine winter wonderland in less than an hour. At the top, the views were nothing short of spectacular. From this perch it seemed we could see  hundreds of miles stretching out before us.

ta8While that would have been worth the trip, Veronica could hardly wait to revisit her fear conquered skiing prowess. That is, until fate threw her a curve ball.

At 9,000 feet above sea level, it can be a little tough to breath.

Never having done too well with high altitude, before she could finish her first run down the bunny slope she was dizzy and seeing stars… in broad daylight. She decided that working the snow bunny angle, complete with a toddy by the fire, at the Iron Door lodge might be a better idea.

David, who grew up at over 8,000 feet high, didn’t seem to notice the altitude at all and took directly to running down the slopes. It’s a small area, just one main lift and a half dozen trails, so he had covered the entire mountain in time to join Veronica back at the lodge for a late lunch.

mtlemmon3The Iron Door takes its name from a legend that a stash of gold mined from the mountain was hidden by seventeenth century Jesuit missionaries somewhere in this vicinity. They supposedly buried it in an underground vault secured behind an iron door.

The treasure has never been found, but we did find some pretty good soup.

After our meal David took one more schuss down the slopes before we headed back down the mountain and returned to the summer-like climate.

It was like passing through all of the seasons in one day.

David & Veronica, GypsyNester.com


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