Monday, January 7, 2013

A Whole Week of REAL Winter!

Oh my, a whole week has gone by since I last posted an entry here!  That doesn't mean I haven't been out, it just means that there's something about winter hiking that puts me to sleep after dinner (when I should have been writing my blog).  And this was a week of REAL winter, snowy and cold and it stayed that way without a thaw or a rainstorm to ruin its wonderful wintery essence.   Here's a quick recap of some of the week's adventures.

January 3 :  Frazil Forms
Cold?  Oh boy was it cold last Thursday!  Ten below zero when I got up, and still just a few degrees above when I ventured out after lunch.  I didn't spend a lot of time outdoors, but drove up to Lake Luzerne to watch the frazil ice form in the Hudson below Rockwell FallsFrazil ice is a particular kind of slushy fluid ice that forms in turbulent water, an ice that can form hanging dams in the river and cause huge deposits to pile up along the banks by winter's end.  This photo shows a small patch of frazil pushed against the bank on the lower right.  As I stood and watched, rafts of this ice would be swept by the current downstream, but new deposits continued to form as the airborne water droplets promptly froze in the frigid air.

I followed the Hudson downstream to Moreau, where hydroelectric dams slow the river's current and cause the river to widen into calmer expanses.  At the Sherman Island boat launch this day, the river was completely frozen over, except for an open area just downstream from the Spier Falls Dam.

January 5 :  Moreau Lake Freezes Solid
By Saturday, the air had warmed to the 20s, and a bright sun tempted Sue and me to get out and celebrate the solidly frozen lake at Moreau Lake State Park.   And we sure weren't the only ones enjoying the park that day, with the cars of skiers and snowshoers and ice fishermen absolutely packing the parking lots.  Happily, the park is big enough to absorb all us winter-lovers without crowding one another.

One of the great pleasures of a solidly frozen lake is that we can proceed directly across the ice to some of our favorite spots on the far shore.  One such spot is Zen Brook (Sue's name for it), a delightful little stream that dances down the mountainside to create the most beautiful ice formations along its rocky course.

We like to stop and chat with the fishermen (and yes, they are almost always men) hunched over their augured holes.  I am always amazed at how cheerfully they endure the frigid vigil, even when the day ends with no fish to show for their patience.   But some lucky ones have their trophies laid out on the ice in a colorful array.  How beautiful they are!  These are (top to bottom) Yellow Perch, Rainbow Trout, and Pickerel.  Somebody's going to have a feast tonight!

This fellow named Brian was very proud to show us the splendid Rainbow Trout he had caught that day.  Sue and I were happy to inform him (and all other trout-catchers) that this year's stocking of trout in the lake was paid for by a gift from the Friends of Lake Moreau.  But I think this particular trout had been in the lake a good deal longer than since this past spring.

January 6:  Snowshoeing with the Pirate Paddlers

Sunday was the Feast of the Three Kings, the last day of Christmas, and what better way to celebrate than with a bunch of new friends?   My old pal Sue introduced me to a group of her friends known as the Adirondack Pirate Paddlers, a merry band of folks who enjoy all kinds of outdoor sports in addition to the paddling they are known for (see their site here).  True to their rascally reputation, they invited us to join them for a snowshoe hike at a spectacular wooded site solidly posted with No Trespassing signs.   Ignoring the threat of fines and/or imprisonment,  we set off for a two-hour trek through deep snow and hilly woods and a jolly good time.

We had no pirates' grog to warm our innards, but Sue brought along an even better replacement:  an ample supply of Baileys Irish Cream to be poured over little snowballs.  Trailside cocktail hour!

As we neared the end of our hike, we passed a serene expanse of iced-over pond and a view of mountains to the north.  Local readers of this blog will probably recognize this pond as the water supply for an area city and the very reason the surrounding woods has been placed off-limits to the general public (although many ski trails and snowshoe tracks would indicate the restriction is generally ignored).  I'm not telling where we were, but I can say we caused the place no harm.


Carolyn H said...

It was seasonably cold down here in PA, too. Ice on the lakes and ponds, and though I see people out on them, they aren't yet supposed to be there. I love the taste of yellow perch that's been pulled from the ice. It's so much better than in summer.

catharus said...

Wonderful winter fun! Cheers!