I spent most of yesterday editing all the photos, and categorizing them by subject, and I will be posting them over the next several days, in no particular order.
Here is the first set, taken outside of Flagstaff on my leisurely drive back to Tucson on Monday morning, along Lake Mary Rd. and state Hwy 83. The snow is not new; it is the product of the huge El Nino storm that deposited a whopping 50" on the area about 3 weeks ago. In many areas, more than 2 feet still remain. Most in the forest is still pristine, devoid of any intentional or happenstance disruption by man or forest creatures.
The snow has matured and seems to have found a balance with the surrounding elements of the land. The benefits of this precipitation will not be realized for months; the slow melt of the snowpack is far more influential on the underground aquifers that supply water to Flagstaff and surrounding communities than rain. The moisture will help the ponderosa pine forest fight off bark beetle infestations that wreak havoc on weakened trees during droughts, and reduces the chances of a forest fire becoming catastrophic. And finally, a wet winter begets a glorious wildflower display in the spring.
Any photographer will tell you that the best light is early morning or late afternoon/sunset. I didn't have the luxury of these lighting conditions during my drive back, but I think these photos managed to capture some of the winter beauty that AZ offers.
The Remains of the Day
Late afternoon light falls on these defiant plant spires from last season.
Gathering on Upper Lake Mary
A variety of waterfowl species cluster on the melted portion of the lake. Snow and ice cover the remainder.
Clouds over Mormon Lake
This forming cloud adds a sense of movment to an otherwise tranquil setting along the shore of Mormon Lake - also completely snow-covered.
Arrangement of Pine and Space
The snow-covered ground allows the ponderosa pines of this relatively open area of the forest to be more fully appreciated
North along Lake Mary Rd.
The token road photo, looking back the way I came, and leading up to a fiberous stratocumulus cloud and its icy virga.