Mile 164, near Hirabayashi Campground

This morning I awoke not to the cheerful twitter of birds but to the patter of graupfel snow hitting my tarp. I quickly breakfasted, packed up, and gratefully made use of the Camp Manning pit toilet as the storm rose.

I had another mile or so and a 500 foot climb to the top of the Rincons, and by the time I got there the blizzard was in full force: horizontal snow driven by gale-force winds, zero visibility, the trail becoming obscured by accumulating inches of snow. It was cold enough that my drinking water froze.

Whiteout on Mica Mtn

I picked my way carefully down, avoiding icy rocks on the trail. The snow level extended down to 5000 feet. By the time I got there, the skies had begun to clear and soon all that was left of the storm was the cold Pacific wind that brought it.The rest of the day was spent hiking the hilly and undistinguished country between the Rincons and the Santa Catalinas.

Mica Mtn, looking pleasant and all innocent from below

I met up with a Dutchman who is hiking the AZT on his first ever trip to the US. He was carrying binoculars to facilitate birding and traveling at a deliberate and easy pace. Good for him. He has traveled to many parts of the world but found the saguaro forest on the south side of the Rincons to be one of the most memorable and distinct eco zones that he has seen.

I agree.