When the first warming of late winter comes, the south-facing lower-elevation ridges melt first. Ridges dry off mostly quickly because gravity draws the meltwater away in 3 directions and the tops of ridges are also the most exposed to both wind and sun. Any slope that is at 90 degrees to the low winter sun also receives the most direct warming rays of the sun. The lower slopes of Mount Mara and of Dewdrop Ridge are often the best places to hike when everywhere else is snowy, icy, or muddy. From the level crossing at the short section of Ord Road, I went straight up the ridges as high as I could. There was snow near the summit so I looped down, rather than “posthole” my way in the sheltered upper slopes. there are no trails on the SE flank of Mara Mountain so I mostly followed the open ridges, choosing routes wherever the conditions seemed better for hiking.
Some old twisted sagebrush added character to the grassland and sagebrush ridge.
There are two parallel canyons on the front side of Mount Mara and there were a number of viewpoints into the wider (east) canyon. Eroded colorful ridges above the hoodoos canyon were also visible with Cooney Bay and Battle Bluff beyond.
This was a fun (but difficult) route to do in February. By now it will be drier yet, but there will be ticks out too. I managed to find some good cactus and a bit of mud, but on the whole it was a great route to explore. I will be back up Mara again at least twice in the next 3 months.