Wednesday, January 17, 2018

A Snowy Walk in the Park

A lovely winter day yesterday, light snow falling, temperature around 20 above.  A good day for a walk through Saratoga Spa State Park, tasting the mineral springs as I went.

The Ferndell Ravine is my favorite place to start a walk in this park.  It's quiet and woodsy, with tall pines towering overhead and a tiny brook tumbling along the trail.  Saratoga Spa State Park is better known for its golf courses, swimming pools, picnic areas, and a performing arts center than it is for wilderness trails, but this short woodland trail through a steep ravine gives me a little taste of deep forest right close to home.

These very green plants were thriving in the rushing water along the path.  I'm not sure what they are, and I did not feel like plunging my bare hands into that icy-cold water to obtain a specimen in order to find out.

I did recognize the spore stalks of Ostrich Fern protruding from a snowy bank.

When I reached the end of Ferndell Ravine, I turned and walked along the road that provides access to many of the springs that the Saratoga Spa is famous for. The first one I came to is called Tallulah, a word that in the Choctaw language is said to mean "leaping water."

And leap this little spring certainly does, spurting in a crystalline arc directly out of the ground.

The next spring, called Polaris, also leaps up from the ground.

I was struck by the blood-red color the spring's stone basin has taken on, the result of all the dissolved iron in the water.  I was also delighted by the filigree ice that has accumulated around the edge of the basin.

I continued along what is called "The Vale of Springs," which follows Geyser Creek, very full and rushing today because of recent rains.

The most immediately noticeable feature here is the Island Spouter Spring, a large dome of mineral accretions, called a "tufa," out of the center of which leaps a tall spout of mineral-rich water.  Although this spring is commonly called "The Geyser," the same name as the creek it inhabits, this spring is not technically a geyser, but rather a spouter.  Geysers are features of hot springs, and they gain their energy for spouting from the build-up of heat below ground.  The Island Spouter's waters are cold and highly carbonated, and it gains its energy for spouting from the pressure of built-up gasses.

I continued along the path that borders the Geyser Creek.

I was enchanted by these snow-capped starry bracts of a little wild aster.

And also amused by the texture of snow caught on the rough bark of a creekside tree.

Banks of many-layered shale rise steeply alongside the trail, and today those banks were decorated with dangling icicles.

Soon I reached this enormous tufa, a huge mound of mineral deposits created by generations upon generations of flow from the Orenda Spring, which springs from the earth high up on the bank.

The dissolved lime in Orenda's waters crystallizes to create this intricately textured mound, which today was further ornamented by frozen waters with a lovely blue coloration.

I soon came to the end of the creekside path and then climbed the banks to approach the Orenda Spring itself, flowing abundantly from this quaint little stone springhouse.  As the mineral-rich water spreads across the ground, the earth becomes colored with red oxides from the dissolved iron in the water.

The blood-red staining of the intricately-textured mineral deposits presented quite a colorful contrast to this otherwise rather gray day.


Uta said...

How wonderful, and you describe everything so beautifully. I enjoy your travels very much and learn from it.

Woody Meristem said...

Looks like a beautiful and interesting place.

The Furry Gnome said...

What a fascinating place! Must be a very interesting place to walk.

Jens Zorn said...

! ! ! !