Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Shivering Along the Towpath

Oh man!  For a day when the temperature rose as high as the upper 20s, it sure felt bitterly cold!  I forced  myself to go out for a walk today and regretted it almost instantly, as an icy wind turned my cheeks to stone and my lips all papery dry and crackly as onion skin.  I had chosen the old towpath trail along the Hudson River at Schuylerville, hoping that maybe the sight of some waterfowl on the open water might add some interest to this otherwise dreary day.  But not a single bird put in an appearance.  Not that I would have seen one if it did, with my eyes all full of tears from the wind-whipped cold.

I've been hiding out at home all week, so I really needed the exercise, but I sure wasn't able to pick up any aerobic speed on a trail that was pocked with hard, sharp ridges of slippery ice.  Mostly, I picked my way along the edges, grumbling that winter might just as well get over, if it's not going to get any better than this.

Well, it wasn't ALL miserable.  I was pleased to see some very nice improvements to this trail since I walked it last year, including this sitting deck perched over the water.  I wouldn't have wanted to linger there today, but I can imagine soft warm summer afternoons when this would be a very pleasant spot, indeed.

And here was a MAJOR improvement to this towpath trail, a project restoring access to this old iron bridge.  The bridge has been closed to automobile traffic for years and barricaded against foot traffic as well, as the deck turned to rust and the stone piers started to crumble.  But just this year, funds were found to strengthen the bridge for foot and bicycle traffic, and here was a crew hard at work on this blustery day doing exactly that.

Oh boy!  Here I was, complaining about the cold and I'd only been outdoors for maybe half an hour.   These guys are out here all day long in the unrelenting wind and frigid air.    Probably getting splashed with water, too.  It was really amazing, though,  to see how precisely they manipulated those huge iron tubes they were setting in place and then screwing down into the river bottom to prepare for bolstering the footings of the bridge's piers.

I was fascinated to see how carefully they set the tubes, using plumb lines and levels and tweaking the crane just so to get the tubes exactly into position, then attaching a rotating device to screw the tubes down until they reached the bedrock.   Be careful, guys!  One misstep, and you're in the drink!  I noticed that everyone was wearing a life preserver.

It's funny.  I bet I stood there for 45 minutes watching this work and forgot completely about how cold I felt.  Except for the fingers I used to operate my camera.


Elizabeth said...

It sounds like we both had some extremely cold days yesterday! I definitely do not envy those guys working so long in this weather... Quite an impressive feat!

Carolyn H said...

The weather wasn't any nicer down here in PA either. The dogs were glad when I turned back towards the cabin, a good bit sooner than i usually do.

Anonymous said...

I just found your blog and I just love it. I'm a nature girl but you are daring in this cold weather.