Heavy Summer Snow Atop the San Francisco Peaks

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 The highest of the San Franciscos is Humphreys at 12,633 feet. Photo by Richard F. Fleck

The highest of the San Franciscos is Humphreys at 12,633 feet. Photo by Richard F. Fleck

Two German climbers signed out on

the log writing that the snow was too

deep and they finally had to turn around.

“But that was yesterday,” remarked one of

my friends as we shouldered our packs

hit the trail where we rapidly gained a

view of the entire Snow Bowl with lesser

crests of the ancient volcano comprising

the sacred San Francisco Peaks that rose

forever skyward in glistening whiteness.

Patches of snow began to grow and soon

became connected, though sprinkled with

pine cones, and as we climbed, we sank

up to our knees in soft June snow, and

we quickly tired with scratched-up shins,

but onward we doggedly proceeded until

we spotted a bare black lava ridge leading

straight up to the crest. We scampered as

best we could on loose volcanic scree and

paused to drink some water, and by late

afternoon we stood on the rim looking down

at Agassiz Peak perched above the vast desert

and up at Humphreys perhaps three hundred

vertical feet above us where waist-deep snow

hampered the only way to go, but as the sun

sank low, we simply said a prayer for the Hopi

corn to grow and made our rapid descent from

this dwelling place of all the Kachina spirits.