Snow Marks Onset Of Winter Season

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The snow that fell over the Rim country last weekend beckoned hoards of Valley revelers eager to enjoy the winter delights of the holiday season.

As visitors took to the backroads, snowmen were carefully constructed, Nordic skiers searched for trails, snowball fights were aplenty and makeshift sledding and tubing ramps went up in a matter of minutes.

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After telling his father and grandfather how to construct a snowman Sunday morning in Pine, Max Foster decided the snowman needed to ride on a sled. Max named the snowman "Buzz Lightyear."

For young visitors like Max Foster of Gilbert, a few hours in the cold crispy snow, sent them scurrying into the house for a cup of hot chocolate and a few cozy, warming minutes in front of the fireplace.

In the higher elevations, above 7,000 feet, snowshoers and snowmobilers found enough snow to frolic in their chosen winter sport.

According to U.S. Forest Service officials some of the most popular sites included near the Al Fulton Gravesite, Woods Canyon Lake, Willow Springs Lake and east Forest Lakes to Canyon Creek.

Donnie Walsh of Phoenix, said he eagerly anticipates the winter months because he can enjoy cross country skiing without spending much money. Also, he said, skiing is fairly easy to learn and the beginners he takes along with him can enjoy the sport on the first day without having to take lessons or pay for extensive practice sessions.

Another attraction for Walsh is that there are no long waiting lines or groomed trails.

At Uncle Tom's Kwik Stop in Pine, where Tom and Kathy Weeks operate a Shell station and cafe, and offer myriad winter play equipment. Business was brisk.

"We notice a huge increase when the snow falls," Kathy said. "People buy more than just gas -- gloves, hats, inner tubes, sun glasses and hot chocolate ... it's a big time for us."

If there was one glitch in the celebration of the first snowfall, it was that Cinch Hook Snow Play Area did not open.

Cinch Hook has long been one of the most popular snow recreation areas in the Coconino National Forest. However, it also has been the site of several serious accidents, which has officials worried about possible litigation.

National Forest Service officials said they open Cinch Hook only when there is an officer(s) available to supervise activities there.

No firm plans have been set when the area will open to the public.

For more information on snow conditions or the opening of Cinch Hook, call (928) 527-3600.

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