Monday, December 19, 2016

Beautiful Ice

A beautiful day, at last!  The weather has not been conducive to outdoor adventures this past week, what with snowstorms and subzero temps and wind and then rain to ruin what had been a lovely heap of snow.  But today was just perfect for winter walking: sunshine, blue sky, no wind, and temps well into the 20s. Time to head up to Moreau Lake and see what was up with the ice.

Well, the first thing I learned was that the ice was still too thin to venture out on.

But at least the lake appeared frozen from shore to shore.  I pulled on my Yaktrax and set out to walk around the lake, keeping to where the ice appeared thick enough to bear my weight and the water no more than ankle deep should my foot plunge through.

Judging from what I could see of the cracks, most of the ice close to shore was plenty thick enough to walk on.  And most of it was spotted with these odd pockmarks, formed, no doubt, by rain falling on slushy snow-covered ice.  It all froze solid, then, when the temperature fell once more.  Today, all the snowed-on ice had smoothed to a hard slick surface.  If I hadn't worn grippers on my feet, I surely would have slipped and fallen.

Here and there it was evident that the ice-cover had opened up and refrozen with absolutely glass-clear ice, allowing me to clearly see the sandy lake bottom.

This looked like open water, but it was actually crystal-clear ice, allowing the sunlight to pass through its rippled structure.

Where the ice was opaque, it was frequently marked with clear black-ice "spiders," or in this case, black-ice "eyes."

Along the north shore, where the sun warmed the sand all day long, the ice had retreated from shore and then refrozen with much thinner, clearer ice.  I left the ice in these sections to make my way along the snow-covered shore.

I was careful to stay off the ice as I approached where I knew a stream emptied into the lake.  And today there was actually water rippling and splashing along the stream bed.  Since the stream had been dry for most of the autumn, this was quite a surprise.

Stream beds are wonderful places to look for beautiful ice formations, such as these sturdy crystalline pillars that formed from droplets splashing up onto an overhanging bank.  The feather was an added embellishment!

These delicate swirls in the thinnest plates of ice would shatter at a touch, they were so fragile. I've never figured out exactly how they form.  They are so exquisitely thin, it's almost as if they formed from vapor, rather than liquid water.

And here were some frozen bubbles! Such a marvel to behold!  Such beautiful treasures sure make it worth venturing out in the cold to see.

Yes, I was glad I ventured out into the cold, but I was also glad to step inside the warming hut and comfort my freezing face for a few moments.  This hut with its blazing fireplace is such a welcome addition to Moreau Lake State Park, offering a cozy retreat for chilled skiers, snowshoers, and winter hikers.  On weekends, I believe there is hot cocoa offered here, as well.

A big table and chairs provide a relaxing place for eating a lunch or a snack, as well as offering gorgeous views of the ice-covered lake.

This was my gorgeous view as I rounded the last bend of the shore toward home. Late afternoon light has touched the lakeshore trees with gold, and the mirroring ice reflects an abstract image of winter's beauty. Imagine how sweet it would be to glide across that smooth ice on skates.  Let's hope it stays this smooth as it thickens and hardens to depths safe enough to skate on.


Uta said...

How wonderful your pictures are. Wish I could have been there too.
Thank you for all your wonderful pictures you always make my day.
Happy Holidays to you and yours.

The Furry Gnome said...

You always manage to find such interesting patterns in the ice. Those frozen bubbles are amazing! And that is one very luxurious warming hut!

Raining Iguanas said...

I've missed my Moreau Lake and SWAW visits. With some vacation time ahead I hope to catch up with you both. You on the other hand have not skipped a beat. Thankfully.