Friday, February 19, 2016
Finally! One Nice Day!
It wasn't 20 below. Nor was rain coming down in buckets. No raging wind was tearing the limbs from trees. In fact, yesterday was a pretty nice day: temps in the 20s, bright sun, blue sky, and just a bit of a breeze. Yes, there was lots of ice everywhere, making for slippery, noisy walking on brittle snow, but, donning my microspikes, I ventured outdoors after what seemed an awfully long time hiding out at home. And the Hudson River along Spier Falls Road seemed a promising destination. It certainly was a beautiful one.
As I approached Spier Falls Dam, coming down Spier Falls Road from Corinth Mountain Road, I was surprised to see the catchment above the dam completely covered with ice. Usually, the current here will keep at least the center of the river open.
Driving along, watching the river for perching Bald Eagles (we often see them here), I noticed this array of converging animal tracks, all leading to one point on the river bank. Hmm, I mused, I'll bet there's something attracting coyotes down there.
Pulling over to the side of the road, I got out of my car and looked over the bank. Sure enough, there it was -- a deer carcass, nearly consumed. Most likely, naturalists from Moreau Lake State Park had deposited a road-killed deer there, as a feeding station for Bald Eagles, whose winter population the park monitors each winter. And of course, other carnivores join the feast as well. It would be interesting to hide here at night and see how many animals still arrive.
When I reached the Sherman Island Boat Launching Site, I parked my car and walked down to the river. Here below the dam, the center of the river was wide open, with only a shelf of ice lining the Saratoga County shore.
Again, I could see the traces of animal tracks on the ice, and just for a moment or two I thought about walking out there myself. But knowing how deceiving river ice can be, I thought better of it and headed into the woods instead. I weigh a whole lot more than a fox or coyote.
I didn't walk through the woods for long, for the constant crashing through icy crust was tiring, as well as painful to my still-recovering knee. But it was very pretty back here, the snow still deep beneath the trees and around the huge moss-carpeted boulders.
By this time of the winter, we often can find the seeds of Paper Birch scattered across the snow, their fleur-de-lis shapes appearing like the tracks of a a flock of miniature turkeys.
Some of the birches appeared to have streams of bright-red blood running down the bark,
but a closer look revealed that that "blood" was instead a fungus called Wrinkled Crust ( Phlebia radiata).
I walked along the course of a little stream, much of it frozen over completely, but here and there, where the water swirled with extra vigor, I could see and hear its rushing water and enjoy the lovely crystalline ice hanging over the turbulence.
Here was LOTS more crystalline ice, falling in tier upon tier of icicles coating the spring-watered boulders along Spier Falls Road. I was on my way home, but I decided to park and walk along the road for a closer view.
At one spot a tiny flowing rill had cut through the ice to drip and tinkle and splash with the musical sounds of Spring into a roadside pool. Enhancing that springlike effect were the cushions of bright-green mid-stream moss and the snowless banks covered with the wintering-over green leaves of Trailing Arbutus.
Yes, spring will come. And it might as well do so soon, since this winter has been such a bust. No sledding, no skiing, no snowshoeing, no animal tracking, no reliable lake ice, no fun at all. No matter how I try to make the best of it.