Arizona is probably best known for Saguaro Cacti and its wacky stance on Mexican immigrants. While it is true that this state is home to a lot of cacti and strange politics, what most people don’t know is that there is a huge mountain that is actually a dormant volcano.
The San Francisco peaks appear to be a bunch of mountains but they are actually the bottom 1/3 of a giant volcano that erupted and blew the top 2/3 off, scattering the huge chunks of volcanic rock everywhere. Not only is the ski hill located on the side of the dormant volcano but also the mountain is one of the four sacred mountains of the Navajo People. Along with the Navajo people, the Hopi also considers this mountain to be sacred.
Due to the elevation of Flagstaff (7000ft.) we have lovely winters with snow and a lot of sunshine and the bluest of skies. If it is not sunny it is snowing. We don’t really have overcast days.
Debate raged for years over whether or not to allow the people who run the ski hill to spray “reclaimed” water on the hill for the purpose of making snow. Essentially the water would be effluent that contained high levels of liquid excrement. Not surprisingly a lot of studies were done to see what type of impact the excrement water would have on the environment. Scientists proved that many samples of the poorly treated water had high doses of all the bad stuff that you wouldn’t want in your mouth if you wiped out on the hill. Economists proved that there was no economic difference for the region if there was more or less snow. All of the native groups were justifiably upset because they didn’t want excrement sprayed on their most sacred landmark.
Fortunately, for consistency purposes, the Arizona legislature ruled that it was perfectly OK to spray excrement water for the purpose of snow making on the sacred mountain beginning in 2012. Now, in 2011 the Snowbowl is still 100% natural snow so we have to get in as much riding as we can before the “poo-spritzer” machines come out.
When the lift lets you off you are at 11,500ft. The vertical drop total is 2,300 ft so it is not the biggest mountain in the world, but being only a 2hr drive away from the perpetual summertime of Phoenix, it is a nice getaway in Arizona.