Monday, February 1, 2010
All Kinds of Ice
Bright sun, blue sky, temp in the mid-20s -- it felt almost balmy today as I set off across the snow-covered frozen expanse of Lake Moreau. A string of well-below-zero nights has set up the ice real thick, so I had no fear of falling through as I walked straight across the middle, despite the terrifying howls and roars and moans and rifle-shot cracks that echoed from lake to mountain all around.
The ice was noisy today. Sometimes it rumbled like a bowling alley, sometimes it sounded as if Hump-backed Whales were singing beneath my feet. Growing up on a lake in Michigan, I was told that these eerie sounds were made by the ice expanding, either because of freezing cold or of warming sun. Since today we had both, the ice let loose with every sound in its repertoire.
I headed straight across the lake to climb a ridge on the other side, taking a trail that follows a stream to porcupine dens near the top. I could hear the stream rushing along as it tumbled down its rocky course, but on the surface, it was frozen solid. This little waterfall looked as if it were carved out of Waterford crystal.
At one point the surface ice gave way to reveal the rushing stream beneath a scallop-edged opening.
Once again, the porcupines eluded me, although their trails continue to be well used, with evidence of recent activity. And today, I did find one quill. A very thin one and not very sharp, but a quill, nevertheless.
My next stop was the Sherman Island Boat Launch to see what the Hudson ice was up to. Today it was frozen solid, all the way across and halfway from here to Spier Falls Dam. But don't count on that ice being here tomorrow. The river flow is very dynamic here, and ice doesn't usually last long.
The stream that empties into the Hudson here by the boat launch was also frozen today. I followed its course way back into the woods, marveling at all the beautiful forms that ice can take on a flowing stream. There were ferns of ice so fragile they broke at a touch.
There were sheets of solid crystalline ice with bubbles captured in it.
There were delicate swirls that reminded me of the contour lines in a topographical map.
Some ice looked like the stylized wings and feathers on Pre-Columbian pottery.
Some looked like the coils of a spring.