Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Icy Hiking

After yesterday's pouring rain and a temperature in the mid-50s, most of our snow has disappeared for sure. But freezing temps returned last night and today, and I wondered what the ice was like on Moreau Lake. So I drove to the park, stopping off at the office to check with the staff, who assured me the ice, although mushy in spots, was safe to walk on. Safe in the sense of thickness, that is, but slippery as . . . well, as ice! Yesterday's rain and warmth had melted the snow cover, and last night's and today's freezing temps had created a new glaze of ice that was slick and glassy.

Time to put on the Yaktrax. But even though I could then safely walk on the ice without slipping, the experience was really unnerving. In spots the new ice was very thin over a layer of water or mush, and each step went through this thin layer with sharp cracking sounds.

I also came across these dark shapes in the ice where it looked like it had melted all the way through. I kept a careful distance. I thought they were kind of cool to look at, anyway.

I don't think I would have dared to go out on the lake at all, if I hadn't seen this fellow way out there ice-fishing. His name is Dave, a fellow friend of the park, and he knows these woods and waters well. He reassured me the ice was thick enough to hold us up.

I still felt mighty uneasy out there, and soon headed in to walk along close to the shore. That's where I saw this disheveled heap among the phragmites and cattails. If this was a muskrat lodge, some critter -- coyote or bobcat? -- has rudely interrupted the muskrat's nap.

What a surprise to find these little mushrooms growing out of a rotten log! Is it possible they sprouted just yesterday, when the weather turned so warm?

Their flesh was tender and delicate, not woody or leathery like that of shelf fungi or Wood Ears, which I often find in winter. If they had sprouted last fall, how could they have stayed so intact through sub-zero temperatures?


catharus said...

Yeh, it's a shame when a mid-winter thaw takes with it so much of the snow. 'Gotta wait too long, often, to put back on the showshoes and skis.

Anonymous said...

That picture of the crack in the ice is really neat. Looks a little like the mandelbrot set for me. Evolution is not the only thing that has a bifurcal pattern.