Saturday, March 12, 2011
OK, I just had to go north today to check out that Hudson River ice. I'd heard that the flooding at North Creek had reached record levels: 12.19 feet, which is 2.19 feet above flood stage, surpassing the record of 12.14 feet set in 1948. As of noon, the ice jam causing the flood was still holding, so I jumped in my car and headed to Warrensburg, where I caught the road that follows the river north from there. A few miles north of Warrensburg, the Hudson was clogged with masses of ice that had risen well above the height of an island out in the middle of the river. This is a section of the river called the Ice Meadows, where heaps of ice typically reach heights of 10 feet or more.
A few miles north of there, at The Glen, the river was now wide open and flowing freely.
While I was observing the river from the bridge at The Glen, several cars pulled over and a group of fellow ice chasers got out. Some of the folks lived upstream at Riparius, where a big ice jam had just broken loose, so they hurried down to The Glen to watch the ice floes arrive.
After about 15 minutes, the first floes arrived, carried by rushing currents of cold black water. They would soon add to that jumble of ice I saw heaped up at the Ice Meadows.
Before long, the river was nearly covered over by roiling floes. Standing on the bridge, we could hear and feel them crashing into the piers of the bridge. Luckily, they kept on coursing downstream, and didn't jam up again under the bridge.
One of the men among the ice watchers told us he'd just received word that the jam at North Creek had let go, so we'd better get over to Riparius if we wanted to see those masses of ice charging down the river. So, of course, that's where I went next. It took me 20 minutes or so to get there. When I arrived, the river was running freely, with no floating ice that I could see.
I made myself comfortable on the bridge and watched the river for more than half an hour. It was all very peaceful and meditative, but no ice floes arrived and it started to get dark and spit rain. Time to go home. I guess that fellow got misinformation, or else the ice jam from North Creek had dammed up again between there and here. And now it was too late to drive further north to North Creek to see what was happening there.
I suppose some folks might find it curious that folks like me would chase all over the north country to catch the river doing its rivery things. It kind of puzzles me, too. There's a kind of excitement I get from big weather and dramatic waters. Not the terrible weathers and waters like those that just happened in Japan (God help those poor people!), just those extraordinary events that make us stop and pay attention but don't really hurt anybody. And maybe it's just cabin fever. I gotta do SOMEthing to get me through until spring!