Early winter ice and snow in Pumphouse Wash

Not too far south of Flagstaff lies Pumphouse Wash, a beautiful and narrow canyon that cuts through the Kaibab limestone and Coconino sandstone. The canyon drains from the upper elevations of the Mogollon Rim into the headwaters of Oak Creek. Most of the time Pumphouse Wash is dry with occasional pools but it can run very full during the spring snow melt and after heavy summer thunderstorms.

Shortly after a light snowfall in late November I took a walk up the wash hoping for some interesting photographic possibilities with snow and ice. I wasn’t disappointed. The first image shows a small pothole scoured by the erosive actions of the occasional flood waters. It was filled nearly to the brim with rain and snow melt, perfectly blended with leaves and pine needles, and then frozen in time.

A mixture of rain and snow melt with leaves and pine needles all frozen in time.
A mixture of rain and snow melt with leaves and pine needles all frozen in time.

Elsewhere in the canyon a sycamore tree had shed its leaves among the boulders of the wash and upon these leaves some snow was still in place.

Snow atop fallen sycamore leaves in Pumphouse Wash.
Snow atop fallen sycamore leaves in Pumphouse Wash.

Although it was a sunny day in northern Arizona very little of that sun was able to penetrate into the confined narrows of Pumphouse Wash. And I had the canyon to myself that day.