When the weather starts to warm, the first areas to completely clear of snow and dry up are the south facing ridges. When the sun is low in the sky the angle of the sun’s rays are angled through the atmosphere so they are strongest at 90 degrees to the height of the sun at the time. In late February the sun is at about a 36 degree angle so any ridge that is at the opposite angle will receive the strongest melting rays. In addition, any of the steeper slope dry faster because gravity clears away the moisture and on ridges, the drainage is in 3 directions. Lastly, the tops of ridges are the most exposed to drying winds. To find the first dry routes climb up south-facing ridges at the lowest elevation available. The lower slopes of Mara Mountain offer some of the earliest “dry” hiking, but there are no trails. On this day in the third week of February, I just parked and started climbing ridges to the tops of the outlier hills, looking for the driest reasonable route for a modified loop hike.
A mysterious feature hidden from below are two spiral rock patterns. There is a similar feature called The Lytton Jellyroll, but that was created by a slide in sedimentary materials, whereas this seems to be volcanic in origin.