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Ice in the Desert

It’s early February and we’re back on the road. Our first visit led us south and west to the far reaches of Arizona and the town of Sierra Vista. One might think that the further south you go in this part of the US, the warmer it’s supposed to be, right? Not so; we encountered the coldest temperature in Sierra Vista’s recorded history and found ice in the desert.

The story begins here:

Working with Dawn to Dust Mountain Bike Club, we partnered with the US Forest Service to make improvements to the much-loved Brown Canyon Trail. Starting early on Thursday morning we didn’t waste any time finding a project for Saturday. The single-digit temperatures quickly seeped through our clothes and motivated us to get our work done and get back inside.

On the way back to the car, we noticed a hummingbird, dangling from a pile of rocks, frozen and seemingly lifeless. We presumed that it had been trying to drink water from the trickle of a nearby stream. Zac, USFS Zone Trails/Wilderness Coordinator, quickly scooped the bird up and immediately began nursing it back to life. While cradling it in one hand, he gently massaged its beak with the other. Once thawed, he slipped the bird into his pocket to warm it up. We resumed the trek, chatting and chattering in the frigid air. Within minutes Zac felt the bird flutter in his pocket. He retrieved the little guy, opened his hand, and watched him zip away into the wide open blue sky.

Although a frozen hummingbird has little to do with our weekend events, it speaks volumes about the character of the person who manages a huge chunk of trails in this part of Arizona. Zac, passionate about his work, takes the same approach to being a strong and caring ally for everyone in the trails community. In return he’s developed productive relationships, like the one with Dawn to Dust, that will preserve and connect existing trails in addition to developing future opportunities.

We hope to return to this part of the world, not only to ride the trails, but to watch the birds on much warmer days…

BIG Thanks to Shane Stilwell, Sun ‘n Spoke Bike Shop, and Dawn to Dust Mountain Bike Club for bringing the TCC to Sierra Vista. Thanks to Zac and Brad for representing the USFS, and for working towards excellent trail opportunities in the Coronado Nat’l Forest. Thanks to Chili’s for lunch on Saturday. And finally, thanks to the volunteers who braved the cold to join us for a great trailbuilding school and field session on Saturday.

Photos from the weekend:

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