Halfway between Tucson and the Mexican border rises Mt. Wrightson at 9,453 feet. With my time in Arizona drawing short, I set out in drizzling rain, confident that the forecast, which called for clearing by noon, would for once be right. And there was the encouraging thought that new snow which must be falling on the final switchbacks, would soften them and render the ice less hazardous.
The trail began easy, and as it rose into the clouds, the ceiling seemed rising as I climbed, giving hope for a soon view of the summit. But as scrub trees yielded with elevation to grand ponderosas, the ceiling did not rise, and I entered a dark landscape where one might hear a foghorn if this were anywhere near the ocean. The place became more like the douglas fir rainforest of Oakridge, Oregon, than dry mountains just north of Mexico.
I made it to 7,000 feet, 2,000 short of the summit before cold and wind and icy trail convinced me this was not going to work. On the way down, the desert far below me opened in radiant sunlight through windows in the trees.